PASS the berries - women who eat foods high in antioxidants may be at lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to new research.
The study, published in the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, found foods such as dark chocolate, tea, walnuts, prunes, blueberries, strawberries and hazelnuts could increase chances of avoiding the disease.
Using data from an existing study, researchers studied information relating to 64,223 women aged between 40 and 65 who had been recruited for studies between 1993 and 2008.
All participating women were free from diabetes and cardiovascular disease at the time they commenced participation and were asked to fill out a dietary questionnaire, including detailed information regarding consumption of more than 200 food items.
By cross referencing findings with data from an Italian database which provided the antioxidant capacity of different foods, researchers were able to determine a score for "total dietary antioxidant capacity" for each woman.
Results showed risk diminished with increased antioxidant intake in participants with blood glucose levels of up to 15 mmol/day.
Researcher Francesca Romana Mancini said a number of things, including sensitivity of cells to insulin could be contributing factors.
"We know that these molecules counterbalance the effect of free radicals, which are damaging to cells," she said.