Eating a diet rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin E, appears to ward off diabetes, new research reports. A group of Finnish researchers found that people who ate diets that contained the most vitamin E were 30 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, than people who consumed the least amount of vitamin E.
People who consumed large amounts of carotenoids, a group of plant compounds that produce the red, yellow, and orange colours found in many fruits and vegetables, were also less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Vitamin C intake, in contrast, appeared to exert no effect on diabetes risk.
The scientists noted that more studies are needed before researchers can recommend that people at risk of type 2 diabetes switch to an antioxidant-rich diet to ward off the disease.
Previous research has shown that vitamin E and other antioxidants may protect people from type 2 diabetes by mopping up free radicals, cell-damaging particles that are a by-product of normal metabolism.
During the study, the research team followed more than 4,000 people between the ages of 40 and 69 for 23 years, noting what they ate and who developed type 2 diabetes. The researchers linked type 2 diabetes risk to a number of different forms of vitamin E, carotenoids and vitamin C.
The researchers noted that people who are trying to reduce their risk of diabetes through diet should stick to fruits, vegetables and other antioxidant-rich foods, rather than vitamin supplements. At this time we do not know the beneficial amount or combination of the antioxidants. Vitamin supplements should not be recommended for prevention of type 2 diabetes, the researchers said.
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