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Eating more fruits, vegetables and grains may reduce risk of Type 2 diabetes

July 15, 2020

Hangzhou, China — Are you struggling to keep your diet as healthy as possible? Two recent studies might offer motivation to stay on track.

New research shows that eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may help lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes when combined with healthy lifestyle habits such as exercising regularly and not smoking.

In one study, led by Westlake University School of Life Sciences principal investigator Ju-Sheng Zheng, researchers analyzed the composite score of blood biomarkers of vitamin C and carotenoids for 9,754 individuals with Type 2 diabetes against that of 13,662 individuals without the condition.

Findings showed that consuming 66 additional grams of fruit and vegetables per day could reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 25%.

“Even a moderately increased amount of fruit and vegetables among populations who typically consume low levels could help to prevent Type 2 diabetes,” the researchers wrote.

Another study, led by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, examined questionnaire responses of 158,259 women and 36,525 men who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study, Nurses’ Health Study II, and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and did not have type 2 diabetes at the time of baseline testing.

Researchers identified numerous foods and ingredients as whole grains, including whole wheat and whole wheat flour, whole oats and whole oat flour, whole cornmeal and corn flour, brown rice, and popcorn. Overall, participants in the category of highest total whole grain consumption showed a 29% lower rate of Type 2 diabetes than counterparts in the lowest category after adjusting for lifestyle and dietary risk factors.

According to the International Diabetes Foundation, 463 million people ages 20-79 in 2019 had diabetes, a figure that is projected to reach 700 million by 2045.

The studies were published online July 8 in The BMJ.