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Women are less likely to develop diabetes if they indulge in moderate amounts of red wine and dark chocolate.

A study of 64,000 women found those who consumed more antioxidants slashed their chances of getting the disease by 27 per cent.

The researchers found 15 per cent of the antioxidants participants consumed came from alcohol – principally red wine – although they are also common in dark chocolate, tea, fresh fruit and vegetables.

The study, published in the journal Diabetologia, concludes that the compounds in wine outweigh the damage of alcohol, provided women consume less than a glass a day. 

Researchers in France recruited women aged 40 to 65 who were diabetes-free, then followed them over 15 years. They were given a food questionnaire to work out an antioxidant ‘score'. 

Those with comparatively higher scores were shown to be 27 per cent less likely to develop diabetes.

Emma Elvin, of Diabetes UK, said: ‘Red wine and dark chocolate contain some antioxidants, but for overall health they should be consumed in much smaller amounts as part of a healthy balanced diet.

‘Making unhealthy food and drink choices can lead to weight gain, and in turn increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.'