Oxidative stress contributes not only to the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes (T2D) but also to diabetic vascular complications. It follows that antioxidants might contribute to limiting the diabetes burden. In this review we focus on ellagic acid (EA), a compound that can be obtained upon intestinal hydrolysis of dietary ellagitannins, a family of polyphenols naturally found in several fruits and seeds. There is increasing research on cardiometabolic effects of ellagitannins, EA, and urolithins (EA metabolites). We updated research conducted on these compounds and (I) glucose metabolism; (II) inflammation, oxidation, and glycation; and (III) diabetic complications. We included studies testing EA in isolation, extracts or preparations enriched in EA, or EA-rich foods (mostly pomegranate juice). Animal research on the topic, entirely conducted in murine models, mostly reported glucose-lowering, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-glycation effects, along with prevention of micro- and macrovascular diabetic complications. Clinical research is incipient and mostly involved non-randomized and low-powered studies, which confirmed the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of EA-rich foods, but without conclusive results on glucose control. Overall, EA-related compounds might be potential agents to limit the diabetes burden, but well-designed human randomized controlled trials are needed to fill the existing gap between experimental and clinical research.
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