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Can Eating Fruit Lower Risk of Diabetes?

Can eating fruit lower your risk of type 2 diabetes? Can drinking fruit juice raise your risk of diabetes? November is National Diabetes Month. If you are trying to clean up your diet and prevent this “lifestyle” disease, recent research offers some exciting advice, especially for you fruit lovers.

A new study led by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that eating more whole fruits significantly lowers risk of diabetes. This study was published in August 2013 in the online version of the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The researchers looked at overall fruit consumption, as well as individual fruits including grapes or raisins; peaches, plums or apricots; prunes; bananas; cantaloupe; apples or pears; oranges; grapefruit; strawberries and blueberries. They also examined consumption of apple, orange, grapefruit and “other” fruit juices.

They found that consuming two servings a week of certain fruits, specifically blueberries, grapes, and apples, reduced participants’ risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 23% compared to consuming less than one serving per month. On the flip side, drinking one or more servings of fruit juice each day increased risk of diabetes by as much as 21%. Researchers also discovered that replacing three servings of juice per week with whole fruits would result in a 7% reduction of diabetes.

From a nutritional standpoint, whole fruits are nutrient-dense high fiber carbohydrates. Like other healthy carbohydrate sources in wholegrains, starchy vegetables and milk and yogurt, fruit influences blood sugar levels by raising them. If you already have diabetes or pre-diabetes, it is important to consume the right amount and types of carbohydrates. Speak with a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator to learn more about what you can eat to manage your blood sugars.

Diabetes is not inevitable. It is a lifestyle disease that can largely be prevented through healthy and consistent nutrition and exercise choices. This study shows that you can enjoy a variety of fruits as one means of prevention.

Bottom line, eat whole fruits and skip the juice! Diabetes prevention is in your hands!

For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services or to schedule a nutrition consultation, click here or call 972.560.2655.

  1. doye bayird jr
    November 1, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I have noticed that foods closer to there natural state do not spike my blood glucose as those that have been refined . For example 22 grams of carbohydrates from ( steel cut oats) barely seems to raise my readings in a 1 hour window . Where as 22 gram carbohydrate serving of biscotti embassies me to say how high it goes .

    • Elana Zimelman
      November 4, 2013 at 9:38 am

      Thanks for your comment. Carbohydrates in their more natural state, in other words less processed, tend to have more fiber and therefore break down more slowly. The blood sugar rise is buffered and will usually not rise as sharply as compared to foods that are more processed. You have listed an excellent example comparing whole grain steel cut oats to a biscotti cookie. Another example, as described in the blog, is a whole fruit such as an apple versus apple jucie.

  2. Jack Courtney
    November 4, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Elana – your comment that starchy carbs raise blood sugar levels makes me wonder if you can consume too many apples, etc. I, for example, follow my mother’s sage advice about an apple a day. What to you think? Jack

    • Elana Zimelman
      November 4, 2013 at 9:42 am

      Hi Jack, thanks for your question. It is true that eating too much of any food, even fruit, can raise one’s blood sugars. Try to be cognizant of portions. For example a snack size apple counts as one carbohydrate choice or 15 g of carbohydrate as compared to a large apple that counts as a double portion or about 30 g carbohydrates. If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, it is especially important to watch your carbohydrate intake for healthy blood sugars. Please follow up with an RD (Registered Dietitian) and CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) to learn how many carbohydrates will be appropriate for your specific needs.

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