JOONDALUP, Australia — It’s no secret that fruit is an important part of a healthy diet. However, a new study finds the right amount of your favorite berries and melons can also stop diabetes in its tracks. Researchers from Edith Cowan University say eating at least two daily servings of fruit each day can cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 36 percent.
Their findings reveal people consuming that much fruit regularly display higher levels of insulin sensitivity in comparison to those eating less than half a serving of fruit each day. Type 2 diabetes is growing problem around the world, with around 450 million people currently living with the condition. Researchers add another 374 million are at risk of eventually being unable to control their blood sugar levels.
“We found an association between fruit intake and markers of insulin sensitivity, suggesting that people who consumed more fruit had to produce less insulin to lower their blood glucose levels,” says Dr. Nicola Bondonno from ECU’s Institute for Nutrition Research in a media release.
“This is important because high levels of circulating insulin (hyperinsulinemia) can damage blood vessels and are related not only to diabetes, but also to high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease. A healthy diet and lifestyle, which includes the consumption of whole fruits, is a great strategy to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”
Pick fresh fruit over juice
Researchers analyzed health data from over 7,600 Australians in the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute’s AusDiab Study during this project. They looked at the impact of both fresh fruit and fruit juice consumption on diabetes risk over five years. Unfortunately, the results reveal substituting more juice for eating fruit doesn’t carry the same healthy benefits.
“Higher insulin sensitivity and a lower risk of diabetes was only observed for people who consumed whole fruit, not fruit juice,” Bondonno reports. “This is likely because juice tends to be much higher in sugar and lower in fiber.”
So what exactly causes fruit to be so good for insulin sensitivity? Study authors say their findings could not find one specific reason, adding that all of fruit’s healthy properties likely play a role.
“As well as being high in vitamins and minerals, fruits are a great source of phytochemicals which may increase insulin sensitivity, and fiber which helps regulate the release of sugar into the blood and also helps people feel fuller for longer,” Bondonno explains. “Furthermore, most fruits typically have a low glycemic index, which means the fruit’s sugar is digested and absorbed into the body more slowly.”
Previous studies show getting enough fruit each day is vital for both the body and mind. One report discovered that at least three servings of fruit appears to slow memory loss in men. Meanwhile, another study finds a healthy balance of two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables can help people live longer.
The study appears in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.