Eating blueberries, apples may lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes

Eating higher amounts of blueberries, apples, pears and other fruits high in flavonoids may lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a Reuters article about a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

People in the study who ate two or more half-cup servings of blueberries per week had a 23 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with people who ate no blueberries, Reuters reports.

23% reduction

Participants who reported eating five or more apples a week had a 23 percent less chance of developing diabetes than people who did not consume the fruit.

The study analyzed data on more than 159,000 women and more than 41,000 men collected from various past studies. All participants did not have diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer at baseline, according to the research paper.

About 12,600 participants eventually developed type 2 diabetes. After adjusting for age, body mass index, lifestyle, family history and dietary factors, the researchers found that higher intakes of a type of flavonoid called anthocyanins were significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Anthocyanins correlate with lower risk

Anthocyanin is one of five subclasses of flavonoids, a natural compound found in certain fruits, vegetables and grains. The researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and other institutions found that blueberries, apples and pears in particular were associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes.

The findings show an association between people who ate a higher amount of blueberries or apples and their tendency to have a lower risk of diabetes. However, the study does not prove that those fruits in themselves prevent diabetes.

Reuters reports that while the sugar in fruit raises blood glucose levels, the fibers and pectin in whole fruit may tout beneficial health effects. It cites that consumption of whole fruits rather than fruit juices may be the healthier option.

About 25.8 million Americans, or 8.3 percent of the US population, lives with diabetes. Of those cases, 90 to 95 percent are type 2.

Type 2 diabetes can be controlled or even avoided with a healthy diet, physical activity and other lifestyle changes.

A prior study found that losing 5 to 7 percent of total body weight significantly lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Sources: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Reuters, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

photo by John Nyboer

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