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Next time you are in the grocery store, or when you come back to eat safely at restaurants, look around. If your community matches the average in America, 1
Those with type 2 diabetes struggle with insulin resistance, a condition in which the body’s cells have trouble balancing blood sugar. Under normal circumstances, the pancreas pumps out insulin when we eat, which helps carry sugar into the cells and keeps blood sugar fairly stable throughout the day. Over time, some bodies have cells that stop responding to this insulin. The pancreas sprints to keep pace by releasing more insulin, but eventually it can become overwhelmed and the body needs to do something about this extra blood sugar. Its first plan of attack is often to store it as fat for later use.
Related: 4 Healthy Habits That Can Lower Your Risk Of Diabetes
Coincidentally, being overweight, having a family history of diabetes and a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of type 2. This means that extra pounds can happen as a result and contribute to the onset. Talk about a vicious, challenging cycle.
Consistently high blood sugar over a long period of time can lead to a wide range of health problems, including kidney disease, heart disease and vision loss.
While type 1 diabetes is not reversible (with current medical knowledge, although researchers are working on it), and those diagnosed with it take insulin for the rest of their lives, type 2 diabetes can often be managed by a well-balanced diet and exercise alone. It may even be possible to reverse type 2 with these healthy lifestyle habits.
Related: This type of diet can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes
When you think of eating too constant blood sugar to prevent or control diabetes, chances are you are thinking of a minimally processed, high-fiber diet that has low added sugar and sodium. With this “low sugar” recommendation, many people automatically lump in natural sugars – such as those found in fruit along with added sugar (eg cane sugar in a candy bar or cereal).
But new research just published in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism suggests that those who regularly eat moderate to large amounts of whole fruits are actually at lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. People who eat a high-fat diet also have better glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, two factors are also linked to type 2.
To determine this, researchers analyzed data from 7,675 participants involved in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, which started in 1999 and had follow-up in 2004 and 2005 as well as in 2011 and 2012. Using surveys, they tracked where a lot of fruit people ate at each of these three check-in times, what fruits they ate plus how much fruit juice they drank. As this was a long-term study, the researchers were able to see how many of the participants developed type 2 diabetes between the first and last study.
Those who ate 2 servings of fruit a day had a 36% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who ate less than ½ servings daily. People with high fruit also noticed healthier measurements of insulin sensitivity and glucose intolerance at the 5-year follow-up. (By the way, this 2-serving brand matches our recommendation on how much fruit to eat daily in a longer and stronger life.)
“Most fruits typically have a low glycemic load while being rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, all of which may play a contributing role,” the researchers explain.
So whole fruit is actually great for diabetes prevention – in moderation and as part of an overall healthy, balanced diet, of course. Fruit juice? Not so much, probably because the blood sugar balancing fiber is removed.
“We did not see the same patterns of fruit juices. These findings indicate that a healthy diet and lifestyle that includes consumption of whole fruits is a good strategy for lowering your diabetes risk,” says Nicola Bondonno, Ph.D., one of The study authors, who are also adjunct associate professors at Edith Cowan University’s Institute for Nutrition Research in Perth, Australia.
These results only suggest a link between fruit consumption and type 2 diabetes risk, and the authors hope that future research may delve into whether eating whole fruits can actually cause protective effects. Still, it’s sweet news for all of us fruit fans out there that eating our 2-a-day can help keep us healthy in many different ways. If you are struggling to hit the mark, try our EatingWell Dietitian Approved # 1 way to eat more fruit.
Do you already have type 2? Yes, you can also eat whole fruits while keeping your blood sugar in check. Check out the 5 best fruits to eat if you have diabetes.