Recent advances in understanding the anti-diabetic actions of dietary flavonoids.J Nutr Biochem. 2013 Nov; 24(11):1777-89.JN
Flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds that are abundant in fruits and vegetables, and increasing evidence demonstrates a positive relationship between consumption of flavonoid-rich foods and disease prevention. Epidemiological, in vitro and animal studies support the beneficial effects of dietary flavonoids on glucose and lipid homeostasis. It is encouraging that the beneficial effects of some flavonoids are at physiological concentrations and comparable to clinically-used anti-diabetic drugs; however, clinical research in this field and studies on the anti-diabetic effects of flavonoid metabolites are limited. Flavonoids act on various molecular targets and regulate different signaling pathways in pancreatic β-cells, hepatocytes, adipocytes and skeletal myofibers. Flavonoids may exert beneficial effects in diabetes by (i) enhancing insulin secretion and reducing apoptosis and promoting proliferation of pancreatic β-cells; (ii) improving hyperglycemia through regulation of glucose metabolism in hepatocytes; (iii) reducing insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress in muscle and fat and (iv) increasing glucose uptake in skeletal muscle and white adipose tissue. This review highlights recent findings on the anti-diabetic effects of dietary flavonoids, including flavan-3-ols, flavanones, flavonols, anthocyanidins, flavones and isoflavones, with particular emphasis on the studies that investigated the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the beneficial effects of the compounds.