Higher Habitual Flavonoid Intakes Are Associated With A Lower Incidence Of Diabetes

Nicola P Bondonno, Frederik Dalgaard, Kevin Murray, Raymond J Davey, Catherine P Bondonno, Aedin Cassidy, Joshua R Lewis, Cecilie Kyrø, Gunnar Gislason, Augustin Scalbert, Anne Tjønneland, Jonathan M Hodgson

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Abstract

Background: Higher flavonoid intakes are hypothesized to confer protection against type 2 diabetes mellitus. 
Objectives: We aimed to 1) investigate associations between flavonoid intakes and diabetes, 2) examine the mediating impact of body fat, and 3) identify subpopulations that may receive the greatest benefit from higher flavonoid intakes in participants of the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study followed up for 23 y. 
Methods: Cross-sectional associations between baseline flavonoid intake, estimated using FFQs and the Phenol Explorer database, and body fat, estimated by bioelectrical impedance, were assessed using multivariable-adjusted linear regression models. Nonlinear associations between flavonoid intake and incident diabetes were examined using restricted cubic splines with multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazards models. 
Results: Among 54,787 participants (median age: 56 y; IQR: 52–60 y; 47.3% men), 6700 individuals were diagnosed with diabetes. Participants in the highest total flavonoid intake quintile (median, 1202 mg/d) had a 1.52 kg lower body fat (95% CI: –1.74, –1.30 kg) and a 19% lower risk of diabetes (HR: 0.81; 95% CI: 0.75, 0.87) after multivariable adjustments and compared with participants in the lowest intake quintile (median: 174 mg/d). Body fat mediated 57% (95% CI: 42, 83%) of the association between flavonoid intake and incident diabetes. Of the flavonoid subclasses, moderate to high intakes of flavonols, flavanol monomers, flavanol oligo + polymers, and anthocyanins were significantly associated with a lower risk of diabetes. Although associations were not modified by sex, smoking status, BMI, or physical activity (Pinteraction > 0.05 for all), findings on an absolute scale suggest that those at a higher risk (those with obesity) may benefit the most from a higher flavonoid intake. 
Conclusions: The findings reported in this study suggest that a diet abundant in flavonoid-rich foods may help ameliorate diabetes risk, in part through a reduction in body fat.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Nutrition
Early online date06 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 06 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • diabetes
  • body fat
  • prospective cohort study
  • Flavonoids

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