Chocolate, Wine, and Berries May Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Raspberries in Clear Glass BowlGood news for Valentine’s Day! Eating foods with high levels of flavonoids such as chocolate, tea, berries, wine, and herbs may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, says a new study published in The Journal of Nutrition.

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Of the total number of diabetes diagnoses, type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 percent of cases. Early symptoms of the illness include bladder, kidney, skin, or other infections that are more frequent or heal slowly; fatigue; hunger; increased thirst; increased urination; blurred vision; erectile dysfunction; and pain or numbness in the feet or hands. Without treatment, diabetes can lead to blindness, nerve damage, heart attack, stroke, and even death.

However, researchers from Kings College London and the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom recently concluded that that a high intake of flavonoids is linked to reduced insulin resistance and improved glucose regulation. Flavonoids are a class of plant secondary metabolites that have been shown to have a wide range of biological and pharmacological activities that can affect health.

To investigate the effects of flavonoids on health, the researchers analyzed 1,997 female volunteers between the ages of 18 and 76 years old from TwinsUK, the largest UK twin registry used for research into genetics, the environment, and common diseases. The women completed a food questionnaire that estimated a total dietary flavonoid intake and the intake from six flavonoid subclasses.

Explains Professor Aedin Cassidy, the lead researcher on the study:

“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.”

According to the study, women who consumed high levels of anthocyanins and flavones – flavonoids found in foods such as berries, herbs, red grapes, chocolate, and wine – had lower insulin resistance. The women who consumed the highest levels of flavones also had improved levels of a protein called adiponectin, which is a regulator of glucose levels among other metabolic mechanisms. Furthermore, the women who consumed the highest levels of anthocyanins exhibited lower levels of chronic inflammation, which is a condition linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer. This is just one of the many benefits that including berries in your diet does for you. If you would like to find out more about the benefits of berries and how to identify them then take a look at the article on There are more types of berries than many people realize so it’s worth looking into as research shows how beneficial they are.

Summarizes Professor Cassidy:

“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.”

The researchers do note that the research does not yet indicate the levels at which these compounds may protect against type 2 diabetes. However, commenting on the finding, Professor Cassidy told Medical News Today:

“We showed that the anthocyanins – compounds responsible for the red/blue color of berries and other fruits and vegetables – can improve the way we handle glucose and insulin and reduce inflammation, a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes.

“These data suggest we should be eating more of these flavonoid-rich foods in our diet.”

Concludes Professor Tim Spector, a co-author on the study:

“This is an exciting finding that shows that some components of foods that we consider unhealthy like chocolate or wine may contain some beneficial substances. If we can start to identify and separate these substances we can potentially improve healthy eating. There are many reasons including genetics why people prefer certain foods so we should be cautious until we test them properly in randomised trials and in people developing early diabetes.”

Although further research is needed on the link between flavonoids and an decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, consuming foods such as berries, herbs, red grapes, chocolate, and wine in moderation appears beneficial for health.


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