Eating More Flavonoid-Rich Foods Linked to Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Jenn Hoskins
23rd May, 2024

Eating More Flavonoid-Rich Foods Linked to Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • A study by Queen's University Belfast found that a diet high in flavonoid-rich foods can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D)
  • Participants with a higher intake of flavonoid-rich foods had a 26% lower risk of T2D, partly due to lower body fat, reduced inflammation, and better kidney and liver function
  • Specific foods like black or green tea, berries, and apples were linked to a significantly lower risk of T2D
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a significant global health concern with substantial economic and social implications. The disease's prevalence is rising due to factors like urbanization and population aging[2], and it is crucial to identify dietary patterns that could mitigate this trend. A recent study conducted by Queen's University Belfast aimed to explore the associations between a diet high in flavonoid-rich foods and the risk of developing T2D[1]. Flavonoids are natural compounds found in various fruits, vegetables, tea, and wine, known for their health benefits, including anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties[3]. The study introduced a "Flavodiet Score" (FDS) to quantify the intake of flavonoid-rich foods among 113,097 participants from the UK Biobank cohort. The participants, aged around 56 years on average and 57% female, were followed for 12 years to monitor the incidence of T2D. The study found that a higher FDS, characterized by an average of six servings of flavonoid-rich foods per day, was associated with a 26% lower risk of developing T2D compared to those with a lower FDS. This association was partially explained by lower body fatness, reduced basal inflammation, and improved kidney and liver function among those with higher flavonoid intake. Specific foods contributing to this reduced risk included black or green tea, berries, and apples, which were associated with 21%, 15%, and 12% lower T2D risk, respectively. Additionally, higher intakes of individual flavonoid subclasses were linked to a 19-28% lower risk of T2D. These findings align with previous research indicating that plant-based dietary patterns can significantly reduce the risk of T2D[4]. A meta-analysis of observational studies involving over 307,000 participants found that higher adherence to plant-based diets, particularly those rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, was associated with a 23% lower risk of T2D[4]. The current study builds on this evidence by focusing specifically on flavonoid-rich foods and their potential to reduce T2D risk. The implications of these findings are significant for public health policy. Given the rising economic burden of diabetes, which is projected to reach up to $2.5 trillion by 2030 even if global targets are met[2], promoting diets rich in flavonoid-containing foods could be a cost-effective strategy to mitigate the disease's impact. Policymakers should consider incorporating dietary guidelines that emphasize the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods to help reduce the incidence of T2D. In conclusion, the study from Queen's University Belfast underscores the potential benefits of a flavonoid-rich diet in reducing the risk of T2D. By promoting the consumption of foods like tea, berries, and apples, individuals may improve their metabolic health and decrease their likelihood of developing T2D. This dietary approach offers a promising avenue for public health interventions aimed at curbing the growing diabetes epidemic.



Main Study

1) Higher habitual intakes of flavonoids and flavonoid-rich foods are associated with a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes in the UK Biobank cohort.

Published 22nd May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Global Economic Burden of Diabetes in Adults: Projections From 2015 to 2030.

3) Flavonoids: an overview.

4) Association Between Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.

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