- Researchers say you can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by eating two servings of fruit per day.
- They say people who eat fruit can lower their blood glucose levels without producing as much insulin.
- They noted that fruit juice doesn't produce as many benefits as consuming whole fruits.
Eating at least two servings of fruit every day has been linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Western Australia said they found that study participants who ate two servings of fruit daily had a 36 percent lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
“We found an association between fruit intake and markers of insulin sensitivity, suggesting that people who consumed more fruit had to produce less insulin to lower their blood glucose levels,” Nicola Bondonno, PhD, lead author of the study and researcher at the ECU's Institute for Nutrition Research, said in a press release.
“This is important because high levels of circulating insulin (hyperinsulinemia) can damage blood vessels and are related not only to diabetes, but also to high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease,” she added.
In undertaking the research, Bondonno and colleagues analyzed data from 7,675 Australians who participated in the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute’s AusDiab Study to assess intake of fruit and fruit juice and the rate of diabetes after 5 years.
The researchers reported that the participants who had high intake of fruit had better measures for both glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.
Compared with participants who had the lowest intake of fruit, those with a moderate fruit intake had a lower risk of developing diabetes after 5 years.
The reaction from experts
Lauri Wright, PhD, RDN, LD/N, an assistant professor in public health at the University of North Florida, said the results aren’t surprising.
“The findings reinforce the power of nutrition and food in preventing and managing the development of chronic disease such as diabetes. The results are very important because many people falsely believe that fruit should not be consumed by people with diabetes,” she told Healthline.
“Fruits are a great choice for lowering diabetes risk because of their fiber content and natural sugar content. Dried fruits and juice are more concentrated sources of sugar, so limiting the portion size is important,” she added.
The researchers at ECU did not find the same benefit for preventing diabetes with intake of fruit juice.
“The most likely causal reason for this is that fruit juice is concentrated sugar without the fiber. This is not surprising at all, as I have seen other studies indicating that fruit juice reacts in the body just as potently as full-sugar sodas,” Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, senior dietitian at UCLA Medical Center and author of the upcoming book “Recipe for Survival,” told Healthline.
“Fruit juice is a little healthier than soda, however, in that it still has some vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients in it,” she added. “However, without the fiber or the chew factor, it is more akin to soda drinking than eating the fruit with all its fibrous goodness.”
More than 34 million people in the United States have diabetes, and more than 90 percent of those people have type 2 diabetes.
In addition, more than 88 million adults in the United States have prediabetes, although more than 84 percent don’t realize they have the condition.
Prediabetes can be reversed, and type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with lifestyle changes.
Wright recommends losing weight and increasing physical activity in particular.
“Not only does exercise help control your weight, but it also improves insulin activity,” she said.
“Emphasize whole grains, fruits, and vegetables,” she added. “Choose lean meats, including fish, and dairy. This is a meal pattern very similar to the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to improve blood sugar control in diabetics and prediabetics.”