Vitamin E, Cryptoxanthin May Cut Diabetes Risk

Papaya halvesVitamin E and a carotenoid known as cryptoxanthin may both be effective in reducing type-2 diabetes risk according to a study published in the journal Diabetes Care in 2004.

The study, conducted by Finnish researchers at the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki, Finland, involved the analysis of 2,285 men and 2,019 women aged between 40 and 69 who were initially free of diabetes. During the 23 year study period, 164 males and 219 females developed type-2 diabetes.

The researchers found that those individuals who consumed diets rich in vitamin E and the carotenoid cryptoxanthin were less likely to develop type-2 diabetes. Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and lycopene on the other hand did not appear to reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes. Consumption of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxantin were associated with a modest reduction in type-2 diabetes risk however this was only marginally statistically significant.

After adjusting the results for potential confounding factors such as age, BMI, and a family history of diabetes, those in the highest quartile for Vitamin E intake were found to be 31% less likely to develop type-2 diabetes compared to those in the lowest quartile. For cryptoxanthin intake, those in the highest quartile were 42% less likely to develop type-2 diabetes than those in the lowest quartile.

Cryptoxanthin belongs to a group of chemicals known as carotenoids. Carotenoids are flavonoids that are responsible for the pigmentation of many fruits and vegetables. Cryptoxanthin is also an antioxidant and therefore may prevent oxidative damage to the body due to free radicals. Rich sources of cryptoxanthin include papaya (pawpaw), egg yolk, apples, oranges, peaches, watermelon, and corn.

Zeaxanthin and lutein are commonly found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as peaches, mangoes, prunes, papaya, tangerines, and oranges. Egg yolk is also a rich source of both lutein and zeaxanthin.

Vitamin E rich foods include almonds, spinach, olives, peanuts, avocado, blueberries, tomatoes, kiwifruit, and broccoli.