Eat Purple, Red, and Blue to Lower Diabetes Risk
Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and red cabbage are examples of flavonoid-rich foods
Diet and nutrition play an important role in type 2 diabetes risk, but less is known about how phytonutrients--nonvitamin, nonmineral substances in plants--may protect against the disease. A new piece of the puzzle has fallen into place, with flavonoids emerging as one possible way to reduce type 2 diabetes risk.
Factoring in flavonoids
Flavonoids are a group of nutrients that give many plant foods their bright purple, red, and blue colors. Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and red cabbage are examples of flavonoid-rich foods.
To study how these nutrients affect type 2 diabetes risk, researchers collected diet and lifestyle information approximately every four years beginning in 1980, and continuing through 2003, from more than 200,000 adult men and women. They looked at five sub-groups of flavonoids:
Other factors that can affect diabetes risk were assessed and accounted for, including age, body weight, ethnicity, physical activity, multivitamin use, smoking, alcohol use, family history of diabetes, menopausal status, and hormone use in females. Dietary patterns were also reviewed, including caloric intake and the amounts and types of certain foods in participants' diets, including dietary fats, red meat, fish, high-calorie soda and punch, and coffee.
Anthocyanins, the favorite flavonoid
After analyzing data collected over nearly a quarter century, the researchers found:
Finding flavonoid-rich food choices
While this study is observational and cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship, it agrees with previous research suggesting anthocyanins and foods that contain these flavonoids may protect against chronic disease. Our tips will help you work more healthy anthocyanin-rich foods into your daily diet, as well as other flavonoids, which have been found to enhance health in other studies.
(Am J Clin Nutr 2012;95:925-33)
Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.