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Reduce Type 2 Diabetes Risk with Fruit, Recipes Included

Fruit and type 2 diabetes

If you need a reason to eat more fruit, here’s one related to the results of a new study of type 2 diabetes. An international team found you can reduce type 2 diabetes risk if you eat three or more servings of certain fruit every week, but their advice is to pass on fruit juice.

Which fruits may help prevent type 2 diabetes?

The investigative group evaluated data from three studies: the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) 1984-2008 and the NHS II (1991-2009), and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2008), which involves 187,382 participants. All the men and women were free of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease when they entered the individual studies.

Based on an evaluation of food frequency questionnaire responses every four years concerning consumption of 10 different fruits or fruit groups (prunes, bananas, cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries, apples or pears, grapes or raisins, and peaches, plums, or apricots) and fruit juices (apple, orange, grapefruit), the authors reported the following findings:

  • When replacing each 3 servings per week of fruit juices with an equal amount of total whole fruits, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the pooled analysis was 7%
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes varied by individual fruit, with a 33% lower risk associated with blueberries, 19% for grapes and raisins, 18% for prunes, 14% for apples and pears, 13% for bananas, 12% for grapefruit, 11% for peaches, plums, and apricots, and 8% for oranges
  • Cantaloupe and strawberries were not associated with a reduced risk
  • The more fruit juice individuals consumed, the greater their risk for type 2 diabetes

The researchers noted in the study that “differences in the glycemic index/glycemic load values of fruits did not account for the association of specific fruits with risk of type 2 diabetes.” Why some fruits appear to be better at reducing risk may be due to the fact that “fruits have highly variable contents of fibre, antioxidants, other nutrients, and phytochemicals that jointly may influence the risk.”

How to enjoy more fruit
The best way to enjoy more fruit in your diet is to simply grab a fresh apple, some blueberries, or other fruit (organic if possible) whenever you want a refreshing snack or pick-me-up. However, if you want to spice up your fruit experiences, here are a few suggestions.

Apple Crisp
5 cups sliced, peeled cooking apples
2 Tbs sugar or sugar substitute equal to 2 Tbs sugar (optional)
1 tsp lemon juice
¾ tsp apple pie spice
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup sugar or sugar substitute equal to ¼ cup sugar
3 Tbs all-purpose flour
3 Tbs butter

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine apples, 2 TBs sugar or sugar substitute (optional), lemon juice, and ½ tsp apple pie spice. Place in 2-quart square baking dish. In another bowl, mix together oats, ¼ cup sugar or sugar substitute (option, or you can reduce amount of sugar), and ¼ tsp apple pie spice. Cut in the butter and stir until you have crumbs. Sprinkle topping over apples. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Serves 8.
Nutritional facts per serving: 2 g sat. fat; 12 g cholesterol; 5 g total fat; 24 g carbs; 1 g protein; 2 g fiber; 142 calories

Peaches, Basil and Cinnamon
1 ½ cups water
½ cup sugar or sugar substitute equal to ½ cup sugar
3 pieces of lemon zest (1-by-2 inch strips)
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 3-inch piece cinnamon stick
3 ripe, firm medium peaches, pitted and halved
½ cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped

Combine water, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a large saucepan and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Add the peaches and return to a brisk simmer. Cover the pot and simmer until the peaches are tender. Remove the peaches and bring the liquid to a boil. After about 10-12 minutes, the liquid should be reduced to ¾ cup. Remove from heat, stir in the basil, and allow to reach room temperature. Remove the skins from the peaches (unless you like them), place the peaches in a container and strain the liquid over them. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours. Serves 6.
Nutritional facts per serving: 0 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 22 g carbs; 0 g protein; 1 g fiber

Blueberry Smoothie
¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
½ large banana
6 ounces of light vanilla yogurt (no added sugar); you can reduce calories by using nonfat yogurt
2 tsp ground flax seeds
Combine all the ingredients and blend in a food processor or blender. Serves 1
Nutritional facts: 1.6 g total fat;

Overall, the results of the study support recommendations by health professionals to increase your intake of whole fruits (and don't forget vegetables). When it comes to helping prevent type 2 diabetes, it appears apples, blueberries, and grapes are among the best whole fruits to eat.

Muraki I et al. Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ 2013; 347:f5001

Image: Pixabay