An Australian study has suggested that eating plenty of fruit could lower your risk of diabetes.
The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, found that two servings a day lowered the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 36%.
Lead author Dr. Nicola Bondonno of the Institute for Nutrition Research at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup, Australia, said, “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.”
Dr. Bondonno and her team analyzed data from nearly 7,700 Australians to assess the association between the consumption of fruit and fruit juice and diabetes cases over five years.
The authors wrote, “People who ate at least two servings of fruit a day had higher measures of insulin sensitivity than those who ate less than half a serving a day.”
Insulin sensitivity is key to the body’s ability to use glucose for energy to perform bodily functions and store it for future use, according to Medicine Net.
Dr. Bondonno said, “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.”
“This is important because high levels of circulating insulin [hyperinsulinemia] can damage blood vessels and are related not only to diabetes,” she added, “but also to high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease.”
The authors also noted that drinking fruit juice did not boost insulin sensitivity or reduce diabetes risk. Dr. Bondonno explained that is probably because juice tends to be much higher in sugar and lower in fiber.
She said although it is unclear how fruit contributes to insulin sensitivity, there are probably several explanations.
Dr. Bondonno explained, “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.” She also explained that most fruits have a low glycemic index, which means that their sugar is digested and absorbed into the body more slowly, according to Medicine Net.