Dietary flavonoids and the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases: review of recent findings

Curr Opin Lipidol. 2013 Feb;24(1):25-33. doi: 10.1097/MOL.0b013e32835bcdff.


Purpose of review: This review summarizes the results on flavonoid intakes and the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Recent findings: Recent advances in food composition databases have allowed the evaluation of a more comprehensive range of flavonoids in epidemiological studies. In addition, the number of randomized trials of flavonoid-rich foods has increased rapidly. Results from both cohort studies and randomized trials suggest that anthocyanidins from berries and flavan-3-ols from green tea and cocoa may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Meta-analyses of randomized trials indicate that the strongest evidence exists for a beneficial effect of green tea on LDL-cholesterol and a beneficial effect of flavan-3-ol-rich cocoa on endothelial function and insulin sensitivity. Few randomized trials had a long duration or evaluated pure flavonoid compounds.

Summary: Evidence from cohort studies and randomized trials suggest beneficial effects of food sources of anthocyanidins (berries) and flavan-3-ols (green tea and cocoa) on cardiovascular health. These findings need to be confirmed in long-term randomized trials, and evaluation of pure compounds will be important to establish what specific flavonoids and doses are effective.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins / administration & dosage*
  • Anthocyanins / metabolism
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Cacao / metabolism
  • Camellia sinensis / chemistry
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / pathology*
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology*
  • Eating
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Flavonoids / administration & dosage*
  • Flavonoids / metabolism
  • Flavonols / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Anthocyanins
  • Antioxidants
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Flavonoids
  • Flavonols
  • flavan-3-ol