Diet is one of the pillars in the prevention and management of diabetes mellitus. Particularly, eating patterns characterized by a high consumption of foods such as fruits or vegetables and beverages such as coffee and tea could influence the development and progression of type 2 diabetes. Flavonoids, whose intake has been inversely associated with numerous negative health outcomes in the last few years, are a common constituent of these food items. Therefore, they could contribute to the observed positive effects of certain dietary habits in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Of all the different flavonoid subclasses, flavan-3-ols are consumed the most in the European region. However, a large proportion of the ingested flavan-3-ols is not absorbed. Therefore, the flavan-3-ols enter the large intestine where they become available to the colonic bacteria and are metabolized by the microbiota. For this reason, in addition to the parent compounds, the colonic metabolites of flavan-3-ols could take part in the prevention and management of diabetes. The aim of this review is to present the available literature on the effect of both the parent flavan-3-ol compounds found in different food sources as well as the specific microbial metabolites of diabetes in order to better understand their potential role in the prevention and treatment of the disease.
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