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Polyphenols May Reduce Risk of Diabetes

Powerful antioxidants found in grapes called polyphenols may help reduce the risk of developing diabetes according to a recent study by researchers from the University of Montpellier in the South of France.

Polyphenols are the powerful antioxidants found in plant foods, tea, coffee and chocolate. They have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-carcinogenic properties.

The findings of the study were published in the April 2011 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition.

Previous studies have shown that diets high in saturated fats worsen insulin resistance. This is believed to occur as a result of changes to the compositions of fat in muscle cell membranes. The researchers wanted to determine if a polyphenol-rich grape extract could reverse these changes.

Lab rats were divided into three groups for the study, and fed the following:

1. A standard diet

2. A diet containing high levels of fat and sugar

3. A diet containing high levels of fat and sugar and an extract of grape polyphenols.

The researchers found that the rats fed the high fat and sugar diet and the grape extract had lower levels of triglycerides than those fed the high fat and sugar diet alone. Elevated triglyceride levels are a known risk factor for heart disease and diabetes.

They also found that the high-sugar diet did alter gene expression in muscle cells, but these changes were reversed in the animals given the grape extract.

Finding more ways to prevent and treat diabetes is becoming ever more imperative as diabetes rates continue to spike in the western world. Currently 24 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes and those rates are only expected to reach epidemic proportions in the next couple decades.

Beyond their potential for diabetes prevention, previous studies have suggested that polyphenols may help lower cardiovascular disease risk and aid in weight management.

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