TheBUZZ: Anthocyanins protect against type 2 diabetes?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Anthocyanin, an antioxidant in fruits and vegetables, decreases your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
WHAT WE KNOW
Researchers don’t fully understand why some people develop type 2 diabetes and others don’t; however, it is clear that certain factors increase the risk …
- Weight. Being overweight is a primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes. The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin.
- Fat Distribution. If your body stores fat primarily in your abdomen, your risk of type 2 diabetes is greater than if your body stores fat elsewhere, such as your hips and thighs.
- Inactivity. A low activity level is exercising less than 3 times a week. The less active you are, the greater your risk of type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps control your weight, uses up glucose as energy, and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
- Family History. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases if your parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
- Race. Although it’s unclear why, people of certain races — including African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans — are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
- Age. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases as you get older, especially after age 45, but type 2 diabetes is also increasing dramatically among children, adolescents and younger adults.
- Gestational Diabetes. If you developed gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later increases.
Of all the risk factors listed above, over two-thirds of them can be minimized by making healthy eating decisions and exercising! Several studies have shown a balanced eating plan that’s low in fat, saturated fat, simple sugars and cholesterol, combined with an active lifestyle can decreased your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. New studies are assessing the effect of specific antioxidants (anthocyanins) and their benefits against type 2 diabetes.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that individuals who consumed more than two (2) servings of blueberries per week as well as individuals who consumed more than five (5) servings of apples/pears per week, had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. The study concluded that a higher consumption of anthocyanin and anthocyanin-rich fruit was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. The findings showed an association but do not prove the fruits, themselves, prevent diabetes.*
The good news? Type 2 diabetes can usually be controlled and prevented with exercise and diet changes! One of the leading risk factors for type 2 diabetes can be controlled by your diet—being overweight or obese! Eating a diet low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and rich in fruits and veggies is an easy way to maintain a healthy weight.
- Phytochemicals? Evidence shows that the antioxidant qualities provided by phytochemicals are best acquired through whole food consumption (e.g. fruits and vegetables). In fact, some vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, are more readily available for the body when consumed in the presence of other nutrients (i.e. when consuming a balanced meal), suggesting that supplementation as not as effective.
- Managing Your Blood Sugar. Another great thing about fruits and veggies is that they help to maintain your blood glucose levels. So whether you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or not, fruits and vegetables are a great option for any snack or meal!
The bottom line? Continue filling half your plate with beautiful, tasty, nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables … with space on the plate for grains and protein, too. This will give your body all of its vitamins, minerals, and the added benefits of phytochemicals too!
*Wedick, N., A. Pan, A. Cassidy, et al. “Dietary Flavonoid Intakes and Risk for Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2012), doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.028894