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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2017, Article ID 6723931, 16 pages
Review Article

Dietary Polyphenols, Mediterranean Diet, Prediabetes, and Type 2 Diabetes: A Narrative Review of the Evidence

1Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
2Diabetes Unit, Center for Genomic Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
3Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
4Cardiovascular Risk and Nutrition (Regicor Study Group), Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM), Barcelona, Spain
5CIBER de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN), Institute of Health Carlos III, Madrid, Spain
6Human Nutrition Unit, University Hospital of Sant Joan de Reus, Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, IISPV, Rovira I Virgili University, Reus, Spain

Correspondence should be addressed to Marta Guasch-Ferré; ude.dravrah.hpsh@hcsaugm

Received 28 March 2017; Revised 19 June 2017; Accepted 3 July 2017; Published 13 August 2017

Academic Editor: Giuseppe Cirillo

Copyright © 2017 Marta Guasch-Ferré et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Dietary polyphenols come mainly from plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, coffee, tea, and nuts. Polyphenols may influence glycemia and type 2 diabetes (T2D) through different mechanisms, such as promoting the uptake of glucose in tissues, and therefore improving insulin sensitivity. This review aims to summarize the evidence from clinical trials and observational prospective studies linking dietary polyphenols to prediabetes and T2D, with a focus on polyphenol-rich foods characteristic of the Mediterranean diet. We aimed to describe the metabolic biomarkers related to polyphenol intake and genotype-polyphenol interactions modulating the effects on T2D. Intakes of polyphenols, especially flavan-3-ols, and their food sources have demonstrated beneficial effects on insulin resistance and other cardiometabolic risk factors. Several prospective studies have shown inverse associations between polyphenol intake and T2D. The Mediterranean diet and its key components, olive oil, nuts, and red wine, have been inversely associated with insulin resistance and T2D. To some extent, these associations may be attributed to the high amount of polyphenols and bioactive compounds in typical foods conforming this traditional dietary pattern. Few studies have suggested that genetic predisposition can modulate the relationship between polyphenols and T2D risk. In conclusion, the intake of polyphenols may be beneficial for both insulin resistance and T2D risk.