Colorful Compounds that May Prevent Diabetes (recipe included)

A recent, large-scale research study validates what smaller studies have indicated: Certain dietary compounds are associated with increased blood glucose regulation, less insulin resistance, and reduced tissue inflammation.

Although scientists do not yet know how much of these compounds we must consume to reap the benefit, they are increasingly confident that regular intake can help prevent type 2 diabetes and influence glucose management.

The Dietary Compounds

The inflammation fighting bioactive compounds the study focused on are called flavones and anthocyanins. Both are a type of flavonoid—plant substances responsible for many dazzling plant pigments. Flavones are abundant in a variety of vegetables and herbs. Anthocyanins are found in blue or red-colored vegetables and fruits.

Colorless, crystalline, water-soluble flavones are comprised of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen rings (C15 H10 O2). The flavone compound is the parent substance of several yellow plant pigments. Slight alterations in bonding between the elements create flavone’s first, second, and third cousins called flavonals, flavanones, and anthocyanins.

The Flavone Influence

Researchers gathered nearly 2,000 female volunteers who completed a food questionnaire and provided samples of their blood. The questionnaire established each person’s flavonoid consumption. Their blood was assessed for inflammation indicators and insulin resistance.

The scientists found:

  1. Participants that ate plenty of flavones and anthocyanins (e.g., herbs, berries, red grapes/wine, dark chocolate) had lower insulin resistance, putting them at less risk for developing diabetes.
  2. Those least likely to have chronic inflammation were participants who consumed the most anthocyanins. Inflammation has been linked not only to diabetes onset, but to cardiovascular problems, obesity, and cancer.
  3. Participants with the highest flavone intake had the best levels of adiponectin, a protein important in metabolic processing that affects blood sugar levels.

The flavone researchers recommend caution in applying their results before randomized trials with people developing type 2 diabetes are completed. However, their work drives home the point that what we eat impacts our health, that of our partner, and other family.

Recipe: Berries with Custard Sauce

Treat your taste buds to this anthocyanin and flavone flavor festival.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sugar, or use a sugar substitute such as Splenda
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups nonfat milk
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 4 cups fresh red and blue-colored berries

Preparation:

  1. In a heavy, medium saucepan, combine sugar (if you use a sugar substitute it will be added later), cornstarch, and salt. Add milk. Cook and stir on medium heat until bubbly and thickened, then cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
  2. Slowly whisk half the hot mixture into a bowl containing the beaten egg yolks. Return the egg mixture to the saucepan. Cook and stir on medium heat only until bubbly; remove from heat.
  3. Place saucepan in a bowl half filled with ice water for three minutes—stirring the mixture continuously—to quickly cool it. Strain the custard into a medium bowl using a fine mesh sieve. Stir in vanilla, and the sugar substitute (if used).
  4. Cover surface with plastic wrap and chill for 2 to 24 hours. To serve, divide the berries between 6 dessert dishes and spoon the custard over them.

Sources: UEA News; Examine; Food (recipe)

Photo by John Nyboer

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