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Bioactive compounds found in fruits and vegetables can have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic effects and can be protective against various diseases and metabolic disorders. These beneficial effects make them good candidates for the development of new functional foods with potential protective and preventive properties for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This review summarizes the most relevant results concerning the effects of various bioactive compounds such as flavonoids, vitamins, and carotenoids on several aspects of beta-cell functionality. Studies using animal models with induced diabetes and diabetic patients support the hypothesis that bioactive compounds could ameliorate diabetic phenotypes. Published data suggest that there might be direct effects of bioactive compounds on enhancing insulin secretion and preventing beta-cell apoptosis, and some compounds might modulate beta-cell proliferation. Further research is needed to establish any clinical effects of these compounds.
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