Berry compound could help type 2 diabetes

Fri, 20 Feb 2015
Type 2 diabetes could be helped by eating more berries, according to new research. This is due to the presence of certain compounds, called anthocyanins, that have a beneficial effect on a number of factors associated with type 2 diabetes.

Good sources of anthocyanins include blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, red cabbage, and red grapes.

Previous anthocyanin research has focused mainly on animal models. This study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, focused on the benefits to humans, particularly those with type 2 diabetes.

The study

58 participants, all of whom had type 2 diabetes, were divided into two groups. One group took 160mg of anthocyanins twice a day, while the other took a placebo. The daily dose administered to the first dose is roughly equivalent to 100g of blueberries.

For people with type 2 diabetes, what are the benefits of anthocyanins?

The results were encouraging for people with type 2 diabetes. The anthocyanins reduced several factors associated with type 2 diabetes, including:
  • A 7.9 per cent reduction of "bad" cholesterol (also known as low-density lipoprotein, or LDL)
  • 19.4 per cent increase in "good" cholesterol (also known as high-density lipoprotein, or HDL)
  • 23 per cent reduction of triglyceride levels
  • 8.5 per cent reduction of fasting plasma glucose levels
  • 13 per cent less insulin resistance
  • 23.4 per cent increase in adiponectin levels, which is a hormone released by fat cells that determines insulin sensitivity
  • 42.4 per cent reduction in beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). People experiencing ketosis have increased levels of BHB. It can be used to detect diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) before its onset.

The significance of the findings

The research backs up the findings of previous studies, which were performed on animals. It provides a clear indication that anthocyanins offer significant benefits to people with type 2 diabetes. In short: it suggests that eating lots of berries could help with type 2 diabetes.

Of the numerous benefits to people with type 2 diabetes revealed by the study those affecting cholesterol are particularly significant. Generally, a one per cent reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad cholesterol") levels equates to a one per cent reduction in the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.

A one per cent increase in levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good cholesterol") also reduces the likelihood of cardiovascular disease by one per cent. The anthocyanins study group would have reduced their likelihood of cardiovascular disease by 27.3 per cent.

The authors wrote: "These findings demonstrate that anthocyanin supplementation exerts beneficial metabolic effects in subjects with type 2 diabetes by improving dyslipidemia, [an abnormal amount of lipids - that is, cholesterol and/or fat - in the blood] enhancing antioxidant capacity, and preventing insulin resistance."
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