Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a prevailing global health metabolic disorder, with an alarming incidence rate and a huge burden on health care providers. DM is characterized by the elevation of blood glucose due either to a defect in insulin synthesis, secretion, binding to receptor, or an increase of insulin resistance. The internal and external factors such as obesity, urbanizations, and genetic mutations could increase the risk of developing DM. Flavonoids are phenolic compounds existing as secondary metabolites in fruits and vegetables as well as fungi. Their structure consists of 15 carbon skeletons and two aromatic rings (A and B) connected by three carbon chains. Flavonoids are furtherly classified into 6 subclasses: flavonols, flavones, flavanones, isoflavones, flavanols, and anthocyanidins. Naturally occurring flavonoids possess anti-diabetic effects. As in vitro and animal model’s studies demonstrate, they have the ability to prevent diabetes and its complications. The aim of this review is to summarize the current knowledge addressing the antidiabetic effects of dietary flavonoids and their underlying molecular mechanisms on selected pathways: Glucose transporter, hepatic enzymes, tyrosine kinase inhibitor, AMPK, PPAR, and NF-κB. Flavonoids improve the pathogenesis of diabetes and its complications through the regulation of glucose metabolism, hepatic enzymes activities, and a lipid profile. Most studies illustrate a positive role of specific dietary flavonoids on diabetes, but the mechanisms of action and the side effects need more clarification. Overall, more research is needed to provide a better understanding of the mechanisms of diabetes treatment using flavonoids.
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