Flavanoids refers to the name of compounds found in herbs and vegetables. New research published in the journal of Nutrition reveals that eating high levels of these compounds, also found naturally in berries, tea and chocolate, offers protection from type 2 diabetes and lowers the level of inflammation in the body linked to a number of health conditions. Flavanoids exhibit antioxidant activity protecting against a wide range of health conditions.
The study investigated the flavanoid response in almost 2000 women and found a lower inflammation rate which is associated with a higher risk of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. After a food questionnaire, blood samples were analysed for evidence of both glucose regulation and inflammation and level of insulin resistance, (high insulin resistance is associated with type 2 diabetes).
Prof Aedin Cassidy from UEA’s Norwich Medical School who led the research commented on the relevance:
“Our research looked at the benefits of eating certain sub-groups of flavanoids. We focused on flavones, which are found in herbs and vegetables such as parsley, thyme, and celery, and anthocyanins, found in berries, red grapes, wine and other red or blue-coloured fruits and vegetables.
“This is one of the first large-scale human studies to look at how these powerful bioactive compounds might reduce the risk of diabetes. Laboratory studies have shown these types of foods might modulate blood glucose regulation — affecting the risk of type 2 diabetes. But until now little has been know about how habitual intakes might affect insulin resistance, blood glucose regulation and inflammation in humans.”
“We found that those who consumed plenty of anthocyanins and flavones had lower insulin resistance. High insulin resistance is associated with Type 2 diabetes, so what we are seeing is that people who eat foods rich in these two compounds — such as berries, herbs, red grapes, wine- are less likely to develop the disease.
“We also found that those who ate the most anthocyanins were least likely to suffer chronic inflammation — which is associated with many of today’s most pressing health concerns including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
“And those who consumed the most flavone compounds had improved levels of a protein (adiponectin) which helps regulate a number of metabolic processes including glucose levels.
“What we don’t yet know is exactly how much of these compounds are necessary to potentially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes,” Prof. Cassidy added.
Jennings A, Welch AA, Spector T, Macgregor A, and Cassidy A. Intakes of Anthocyanins and Flavones Are Associated with Biomarkers of Insulin Resistance and Inflammation in Women. Journal of Nutrition, January 2014