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Help Prevent Diabetes by Eating Fruit—Not Drinking Juice

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Apples are among the fruit that helps prevent type 2 diabetes, according to a new Harvard School of Public Health study. PHOTO: Scott Bauer, USDA ARS

Here’s yet another reason to eat more fruit: A new, Harvard study finds that eating just two servings per week of fruit lowers risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 23 percent. Compare that to drinking fruit juice, which the study found actuallyincreasedthe risk of developing diabetes by 21 percent.

Published in the prestigiousBritish Medical Journal, the study of nearly 200,000 people underscores the many benefits of eating whole fruit versus sipping its juice.  Whole fruit provides more fiber. It has fewer calories than juice.  Also, the act of eating--rather than drinking--appears to increase satiety--or how full you feel after eating.

Best Fruit to Help Prevent Diabetes

What the scientists also discovered from analyzing data from some 187,000 men and women collected over more than a decade is that some types of fruit are better at protecting against type 2 diabetes better than others.

The fruit standouts? Blueberries, grapes and apples.

Why might these fruit varieties help prevent diabetes? The scientists theorized that it could have to do with the quality and amount of carbohydrates in the fruit, as measured by the glycemic index and glycemic load.  But neither of those measures explained the diabetes prevention benefits of fruit. What blueberries, apples and grapes have in common is that they are rich in anthocyanins and resveratrol, naturally occurring plant-based substances. Animal studies have shown that both types of substances help prevent diabetes. Other research suggests that these substances have a variety of other health benefits ranging from protecting vision, preserving memory to preventing cancer and heart disease.

Replace Juice with Whole Fruit Where Possible

Drinking fruit juice spikes blood sugar and insulin levels more than eating whole fruit--which are both linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. So, the Harvard team also calculated the effect of swapping juice with whole fruit. Their results? Eating whole fruit instead of drinking juice just three times a week cut diabetes risk by seven percent.

How will these new findings affect your fruit and juice consumption? Leave your comments here or e-mail me at.I love getting e-mails and respond to as many as time permits. Have a nutrition question that you'd like answered?. E-mail me and I'll research the answer and may use it as an upcoming blog post. 

Last Updated:9/3/2013
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Date: 19.12.2018, 07:10 / Views: 33131