New research suggests that red wine and cacao, from which chocolate is made, can help prevent type 2 diabetes.
The study, which was conducted in the United Kingdom, involved 2,000 women and plant compounds called flavonoids which are present in some fruit and berries as well as red wine and chocolate. Researchers found that the flavonoids "protect against the disease of glucose metabolism," the Financial Times reported. Continuing, the paper said:
The research is likely to be seized upon by the sugar industry, which [recently] struck out against being "demonized" by pressure groups.
Researchers at the University of East Anglia conducted the study and published their results in the Journal of Nutrition. It was one of the largest scientific studies of the effects of flavonoids on type 2 diabetes conducted to date.
According to the 2011 figures from the Centers for Disease Control, type 2 diabetes affects 8.3 percent of the U.S. population, or about 25.8 million people; FT reported that about 2 million Brits are affected by the disease.
In conducting their study, East Anglia researchers collected and analyzed blood samples and monitored food consumption of 2,000 volunteer subjects.
'An exciting finding'
"We found that those who consumed plenty of anthocyanins and flavones [types of flavonoids] had lower insulin resistance," said Professor Aedin Cassidy, the research leader. "High insulin resistance is associated with type 2 diabetes, so what we are seeing is that people who eat foods rich in these two compounds - such as berries, herbs, red grapes, wine - are less likely to develop the disease."
As further reported by FT:
The biochemical mechanisms behind the findings are unclear, though the researchers suspect that flavonoids raise levels of a protein called adiponectin, which regulates glucose metabolism.
Tim Spector of King's College London, who was also involved in the research, called it "an exciting finding that shows that some components of foods that we consider unhealthy, like chocolate or wine, may contain some beneficial substances."
However, Alasdair Rankin - research director of the charity Diabetes UK - said the study's results should be taken with caution.
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