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Antioxidants may help lower diabetes rates

February 23, 2010

Higher consumption of antioxidants in the diet may decrease diabetes risk in healthy adults and diabetic patients, according to a new study.

The study based on a sub-sample from the well documented ATTICA study, with participants consisting of 551 men and 467 women from all parts of the Attica region in Greece. Dietary habits were evaluated using a validated food-frequency questionnaire, with participants reporting their daily or weekly average intake of several food items including fruit, vegetables, legumes, non-alcoholic beverages, chocolate, honey, jam, nuts, rice, pastas and grains (1).

The results indicated that higher total dietary antioxidant intake is correlated with lower levels of diabetes biomarkers in healthy individuals, as well as in pre-diabetic and diabetic ones. The observed protective association was independent of age, gender and physical activity status, but did not hold in obese individuals.

Recent studies suggested that oxidative stress is related to diabetes, possibly originating through increased free radical production, with the theory proposed that pancreatic cells are particularly susceptible to reactive oxygen species, due to their low free-radical quenching enzymes. Thus, by damaging mitochondria, oxidative stress could destroy pancreatic beta cells, blunt insulin secretion and dysregulate glucose levels.

The scientists also report that high dietary antioxidant capacity has been found to decrease markers of inflammation, suggesting that inflammation and oxidative stress are interrelated.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 150 million people have diabetes mellitus worldwide, and this number may double by the year 2025 due to population growth, ageing, unhealthy diet, obesity and sedentary lifestyle.

References

  1. Stefanadis C. et al. Dietary antioxidant capacity is inversely associated with diabetes biomarkers. Nutrition, Metablolism & Cardiovascular Diseases. 2010.