New study: Eating foods rich in antioxidants corresponds to a reduced risk of diabetes type 2
Evidence from recent studies suggests that oxidative stress may play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease.
Oxidative stress is caused by the production of free oxygen radicals in the body, which cause damage to cell structures. Though the body has endogenous antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase, which neutralise free radicals, studies have shown that diets rich in antioxidants provide further protection against free radicals and help protect us from chronic illnesses.
In a recent study published in Diabetologia, women who consumed the highest amounts of antioxidants had a 27% lower chance of developing diabetes type 2.
The researchers measured the total antioxidant capacity, which is describes as a single estimate of antioxidant capacity from all dietary antioxidants.
According to the study, the foods which contributed the most to the total antioxidant capacity were “fruit (23%), vegetables (19%), alcoholic beverages (15%) and hot beverages such as tea, chicory and hot chocolate (12%)”.
Women who consumed more fruits, vegetables and tea hence had higher total antioxidant capacities.
The risk reduction for diabetes type 2 however only increased up till total antioxidant capacities of 15mmols/day.
This study adds to the already well-established evidence showing that healthy diets can go a long way in preventing chronic illnesses.
Other studies have looked at the molecules which exert antioxidative effects in plants, and polyphenols have been identified as one of the most potent antioxidants. In an article published on zonediet.com by Dr. Barry Sears, he identifies the polyphenol subgroup known as flavonoids as the most beneficial polyphenols to human health.
Among the fruits with the highest polyphenol content and the highest antioxidant capacities are Haschberg black elderberry, Aronia berries, blackcurrants, and blueberries. Blackcurrants and blueberries are very rich in the flavonoids known as delphinidin, while Haschberg black elderberries are rich in cyanidin.
These flavonoids help protect the body from free radicals, and hence reduce inflammation and the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Furthermore, flavonoids have shown benefits to athletic performance, as well as benefits to brain health, digestive health and immunity.
While fresh fruits present the most natural form for dietary intake of antioxidants, another effective method is to consume fruit extracts, which deliver highly concentrated amounts of antioxidants and can be standardizes so that the same amount of antioxidants is taken every time. Fruit extracts can be consumed as fruit bars, beverages and capsules. Care should be taken when choosing a fruit extract, since the extraction methods vary greatly in their ability to retain the healthy fruit nutrients. Extracts produced using mechanical, chemical-free extraction methods should be preferred. An example of such a mechanical extraction method is the membrane ultrafiltration method, which uses semipermeable membranes to separate fruit components by size and polarity. This method preserves much of the original fruit matrix, and maximizes the antioxidant capacity of the extract.
Whichever method of antioxidant intake you prefer, make sure to consume adequate amounts at regular intervals throughout the day. Your body will thank you.