Regular consumption of antioxidant-rich foods such as tea, walnuts and blueberries can help to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, researchers say.
A French study published in the journal Diabetologia has reported that women with higher antioxidant scores had a 27 per cent reduced risk of type 2 diabetes compared to those with the lowest scores.
Scientists analysed total antioxidant capacity in 64,223 women between 1993 and 2008 to see whether overall diet was associated with type 2 diabetes risk.
At the beginning of the study the participants completed a dietary questionnaire, which included information on more than 200 food items. This enabled researchers to assess the ‘total dietary antioxidant capacity’ for each participant. None of the women had diabetes before the study began.
A total of 1,751 women developed type 2 diabetes during the 15-year follow-up period. When the associations between antioxidant score and diabetes risk were analysed, the risk was diminished with increased antioxidant consumption.
“This link persists after taking into account all the other principal diabetes risk factors: smoking, education level, hypertensio, high cholesterol levels, family history of diabetes and, above all, BMI, the most important factor,” said first author Francesca Romana Mancini, who is part of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research.
The foods and drink that contributed most to a higher dietary antioxidant score were fruits and vegetables, tea and red wine (in moderation), while coffee was excluded from the analysis because it has already been linked to reduced type 2 diabetes risk.
The research builds on existing studies that have shown certain antioxidants such as vitamins C and E can reduce type 2 diabetes risk, but the mechanisms behind this action are unclear.
Mancini said: “We know that these molecules counterbalance the effect of free radicals, which are damaging to cells, but there are likely to be more specific actions in addition to this, for example an effect on the sensitivity of cells to insulin. This will need to be confirmed in future studies.”
Increasing your antioxidant score can be achieved through eating a variety of low-carb foods such as strawberries, hazelnuts and vegetables. For more information visit our award-winning Low Carb Program.

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