October 13, 2017 By Elizabeth McCammon

When it comes to menu planning, fruits and vegetables are often lumped together. But no one knows for certain the long-term impact of eating fruit—which tends to contain more sugar than most vegetables—for people who have or are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

A new Chinese study offers some answers. Three times over the course of seven years, researchers interviewed half a million participants about their eating habits and other lifestyle behaviours, and also tested their blood sugar levels. The researchers found that people who said they ate fresh fruit daily were 12 per cent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes during the seven-year period than those who said they never or rarely ate fresh fruit.

Among people who already had diabetes at the start of the study, those who ate fresh fruit more than three days a week had a 17 per cent lower risk of dying from any cause, and 13 to 28 per cent lower risk of developing diabetes-related complications that affected small blood vessels (such as kidney, eye, and nerve diseases) and large blood vessels (such as heart disease and stroke) than those who ate fruit less than once a week.

The findings of this study, which were published in the April 2017 issue of PLOS Medicine, suggest that eating more fresh fruit is potentially beneficial for preventing and managing type 2 diabetes. However, the researchers cautioned that the effects of eating fruit can be difficult to distinguish from the effects of the participants’ other lifestyle behaviours and dietary habits.

Need help with meal planning? Visit “Basic Meal Planning” at diabetes.ca/basics for more information.

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