Enlist Fruits and Green Veggies in Battle Against Diabetes

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Green leafy vegetables and whole fruit may be the latest weapons against the diabetes epidemic. An 18-year epidemiological study of 71,346 women finds that each additional serving of green leafy vegetables such as kale or spinach was associated with a 9% reduction in risk of developing type 2 diabetes. An increase of three servings per day in fruit consumption was linked to an 18% lower risk of diabetes.

Researchers led by Lydia Bazzano, PhD, of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine examined data collected from healthy female nurses, ages 38 to 63, who filled out food-frequency questionnaires every four years. Over the span of the study, 4,529 of the women developed type 2 diabetes. Bazzano and colleagues then correlated the dietary data with the incidence of diabetes.

Overall consumption of vegetables, fruit and fruit juice was not associated with any protection against diabetes. When the researchers focused on green leafy vegetables and fruit, however, a "modest" benefit was observed, consistent with a small but growing body of evidence connecting vegetables in particular to diabetes prevention.

On the other hand, consumption of fruit juice-as opposed to whole fruits-was actually associated with an increased likelihood of developing diabetes among the women. Each additional serving of fruit juice boosted diabetes risk by 18%.

Bazzano and colleagues cautioned that the study can't prove causality, and that it was limited by reliance on self-reported data. Given the skyrocketing rates of diabetes, however, and other benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables, the study is yet another reason to take a fresh look at what's on your plate.

According to new estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes jumped by more than 3 million between 2005 and 2007, to almost 24 million. The CDC estimates that 8% of the population has diabetes, versus under 5% in 1994. Incidence of diabetes is highest among those age 60 and older-almost 25%, according to the CDC.

TO LEARN MORE Diabetes Care, online ahead of print, . 2007 National Diabetes Fact Sheet .

Did you know…
Scrub your cantaloupe before eating. Even though you don't eat the rind, bacteria from the outside can contaminate the inside when you cut cantaloupe.

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