Adding about a third of a cup of fruit or vegetables to your daily diet could cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 25%, while higher consumptions of whole grains such as brown bread and oatmeal could cut the risk by 29%, according to two new studies published Wednesday in the journal BMJ.
The studies add to the growing database of literature that shows a healthier diet of whole grains, fruits and veggies — along with regular physical activity, no smoking and maintaining a healthy weight — can significantly impact your risk of developing the deadly disease.
Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in 2016, according to the World Health Organization, and is a “major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.”
Some 463 million adults between the ages of 20 and 79 years were living with diabetes in 2019, according to the International Diabetes Federation. That number is expected to rise to 700 million by 2045.
Most studies use questionnaires to quiz study participants about what they ate and when, which leaves most nutritional studies subject to the vagaries of human recall.
But a group of European researchers used an objective measurement — a composite score of blood biomarkers of vitamin C and carotenoids (the richly colored pigments of yellow, red and green on fruits and vegetables) — to measure the amount of fruits and veggies eaten.
The study compared nearly 10,000 adults with new-onset type 2 diabetes to a group of nearly 14,000 adults who remained free of diabetes. All were participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-InterAct study that took place in eight European countries.
There was a 25% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes for every 66 extra grams of fruit and vegetables eaten each day, the study found.
That’s not much — just over 1/3 cup of either fruits or veggies.
“The public health implication of this observation is that the consumption of even a moderately increased amount of fruit and vegetables among populations who typically consume low levels could help to prevent type 2 diabetes,” the study said.
“It should be noted that these findings and other available evidence suggest that fruit and vegetable intake, rather than vitamin supplements, is potentially beneficial for the prevention of type 2 diabetes.”
Medical reference: CNN Health