Eating dark chocolate and red wine could protect against the onset of diabetes, new research has found.
According to scientists at the University of East Anglia and Kings College London, eating high levels of flavonoids found in berries, tea, and chocolate could offer protection from type 2 diabetes.
Nearly 2,000 healthy women were asked to complete a food questionnaire to estimate their total flavonoid intake 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.
Results showed that those with high intakes of these foods had lower insulin resistance and better blood glucose regulation.
These foods were also found to lower inflammation which, when chronic, is associated with diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, according to results published today in the Journal of Nutrition.
Professor Aedin Cassidy, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School led the research, said: “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.”
Professor Tim Spector, research collaborator and director of the study from King’s College London, said: “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.”