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Caution advised over new flavonoid study

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A study in to the actions of a group of chemicals known as flavonoids has found an association with a reduction in the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Flavonoids are found in a wide range of foods, including berries, apples, pears and onions. They are also found in both red wine and dark chocolate, which has led to widespread reporting in the press that consuming either of these could lead to a reduced risk of developing the condition.

The study, which is published in the Journal of Nutrition, looked at nearly 2,000 women, and found that those with a higher intake of flavonoids tended to have a lower rate of insulin resistance and better blood glucose regulation. However, the researchers were unable to find a causal link between the two, and called for further study of the subject. Diabetes UK is also concerned that any health benefit from the flavonoids would be outweighed by the calories in the chocolate and the alcohol in the wine.

Findings should be "interpreted with caution"

Dr Alasdair Rankin, Director of Research for Diabetes UK, said, "While this study does suggest an association between flavonoids and lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, we need to interpret the findings with caution. There have been contradictory findings from other studies and, also, even if high flavonoid consumption and lower Type 2 diabetes risk do tend to happen together, it does not necessarily mean that one is causing the other. So while interesting, this study is not the smoking gun that would finally persuade us that flavonoids really do help prevent Type 2 diabetes.

Healthy lifestyle

"From the point of view of what people should do to reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes, we already recommend a healthy lifestyle that involves doing regular physical activity as well as eating a healthy diet to help maintain a healthy weight. This includes eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, some of which, such as berries, apples and pears, are rich in flavonoids.

But for red wine and chocolate, which also contain them, our advice is to limit your consumption of these and this advice would be very unlikely to change even if further research did demonstrate that flavonoids reduce Type 2 diabetes risk. This is because any health benefit from the flavonoids would be dramatically outweighed by the calories in the chocolate and the alcohol in the wine."

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