Antioxidants Combat Type 2 Diabetes

By: Robert M. Blair, Ph.D.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, type 2 diabetes is a chronic health condition characterized by high blood sugar levels that usually develops slowly over time. Some of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes include low levels of exercise, poor diet, and excess body weight.

More recently, it has been reported that oxidative stress can increase one’s risk for type 2 diabetes possibly by altering enzymatic systems, increasing lipid peroxidation, negatively affecting glutathione metabolism, and decreasing vitamin C levels [1]. Because of this link between oxidative stress and type 2 diabetes, a team of researchers decided to explore the potential benefit of an antioxidant-rich diet on the risk for type 2 diabetes.

The Study:

For this study, over 64,000 women from the French E3N-European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study were followed for 15 years. During this 15-year follow-up period, 1,751 women developed type 2 diabetes. Total antioxidant capacity, an index derived from antioxidant intake, was estimated from dietary intake questionnaires and associations between type 2 diabetes risk and total antioxidant capacity was calculated.


The Results:

The results of this study demonstrated that compared to women in the group with the lowest total antioxidant capacity, women in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th highest groups of total antioxidant capacity had a 26%, 30%, and 27% reduced risk for type 2 diabetes. According to the study, women with higher total antioxidant capacity values also consumed higher levels of fruits, vegetables, and tea.


What it Means:

Overall, the results of this study suggest that a diet rich in antioxidants may contribute to a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes. While the study summary did not mention antioxidant supplements, these might be a good way to increase your total antioxidant capacity if you find it difficult to get the fruits and vegetables you should be eating each day. One unrelated study reported that antioxidant supplement users had a 1.6-fold higher total antioxidant capacity compared to those not taking antioxidant supplements [3].




  1. Asmat U, Abad K, Ismail K. Diabetes mellitus and oxidative stress – A concise review. Saudi Pharm J 2016; 24(5):547-553.
  2. Mancini FR, Affret A, Dow C, Balkau B, Bonnet F, Boutron-Ruault MC, Fagherazzi G. Dietary antioxidant capacity and risk of type 2 diabetes in the large prospective E3N-EPIC cohort. Diabetologia 2017 Nov 9. doi:10.1007/s00125-017-4489-7. [Epub ahead of print]
  3. Kim K, Vance TM, Chun OK. Greater Total Antioxidant Capacity from Diet and Supplements Is Associated with a Less Atherogenic Blood Profile in U.S. Adults. Nutrients. 2016 Jan 4;8(1). pii: E15. doi: 10.3390/nu8010015.