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Flavonoids are a group of nutrients that give many plant foods their bright purple, red, and blue colors. Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and red cabbage are examples of flavonoid-rich foods.
To study how these nutrients affect type 2 diabetes risk, researchers collected diet and lifestyle information approximately every four years beginning in 1980, and continuing through 2003, from more than 200,000 adult men and women. They looked at five sub-groups of flavonoids:
Other factors that can affect diabetes risk were assessed and accounted for, including age, body weight, ethnicity, physical activity, multivitamin use, smoking, alcohol use, family history of diabetes, menopausal status, and hormone use in females. Dietary patterns were also reviewed, including caloric intake and the amounts and types of certain foods in participants' diets, including dietary fats, red meat, fish, high-calorie soda and punch, and coffee.
After analyzing data collected over nearly a quarter century, the researchers found:
While this study is observational and cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship, it agrees with previous research suggesting anthocyanins and foods that contain these flavonoids may protect against chronic disease. Our tips will help you work more healthy anthocyanin-rich foods into your daily diet, as well as other flavonoids, which have been found to enhance health in other studies.
(Am J Clin Nutr 2012;95:925–33)