Diabetes—specifically type 2 diabetes—is a growing health concern, with the CDC estimating that 10.5% of the U.S. population have a form of diabetes and an additional 34.5% of the adult U.S. population have prediabetes. With all that to consider, breakthroughs in small interventions that can help manage the risk of developing type 2 diabetes are critically important.
A new study, published today in the journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, added to evidence that a surprisingly sweet food group can help to decrease diabetes risk by as much as 36%.
Need another reason to eat more fruit this summer? Here you go.
The study used data from 7,675 Australians in the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute’s AusDiab Study. Researchers found that, based on the results, eating two daily servings of fruit could be linked to lower odds of developing type 2 diabetes—specifically, they report, the risk reduction can be up to 36%.
“We found an association between fruit intake and markers of insulin sensitivity,” explains Nicola Bondonno, Ph.D., from the Institute for Nutrition Research at Edith Cowan University, “suggesting that people who consumed more fruit had to produce less insulin to lower their blood glucose levels.”
According to Bondonno, “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.”
Focusing on whole, fresh fruit is best.
As the language from Bondonno makes clear, the study found an association, not a causal relationship: so it may be possible that people who ate more fruit had a lower risk in the long run: “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,” she says.
It’s also worth noting that the same benefits were not found when fruit juice was the source, only with fresh whole fruits. “As well as being high in vitamins and minerals, fruits are a great source of phytochemicals, which may increase insulin sensitivity,” she explains, “and fiber, which helps regulate the release of sugar into the blood and also helps people feel fuller for longer.” She also points out that most of the sugar in fruit has a lower glycemic index, meaning “the fruit’s sugar is digested and absorbed into the body more slowly.”
You probably don’t need advice for ways to enjoy fruit—but in case you do, here are a few of our favorite recipes that feature a variety of whole fruits: atop a vegan yogurt bowl, briefly tossed on the grill, or in a quinoa-filled take on fruit salad.