Diabetes is on the rise in Australia and around the world, but adding more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet may help protect against it, new research shows.
Diets high in fruits, vegetables and wholegrain foods are associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to two international studies published in The British Medical Journal this week.
Both studies were observational, and therefore unable to establish a direct cause, but the researchers said the findings suggest that even a modest increase in consumption of these foods as part of a healthy diet could help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Fruits and vegetables
The first study came from the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine in the UK.
Researchers measured the levels of vitamin C and carotenoid (pigments found in colourful fruits and vegetables) in the blood of participants at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The results showed that every 66 grams per day increase in total fruit and vegetable intake was associated with a 25 per cent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The findings were based on 9754 adults who developed new-onset type 2 diabetes and a comparison group of 13,662 adults who remained free of diabetes.
The second study came from Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health in the United States.
Researchers examined the links between total and individual whole grain food intake and type 2 diabetes, and the findings were based on 158,259 women and 36,525 men who were free from diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
After adjusting for lifestyle and dietary risk factors for diabetes, participants in the highest category for total whole grain consumption had a 29 per cent lower rate of type 2 diabetes compared with those in the lowest category.
For individual whole grain foods, the researchers found that consuming one or more servings a day of whole grain cold breakfast cereal or dark bread was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (19 per cent and 21 per cent respectively) compared with consuming less than one serving a month.
For other whole grains with lower average intake levels, consumption of two or more servings a week compared with less than one serving a month was associated with a 21 per cent lower risk for oatmeal, a 15 per cent lower risk for added bran, and a 12 per cent lower risk for brown rice and wheat germ.
These reductions in risk seemed to plateau around two servings a day for total whole grain intake, and around half a serving a day for whole grain cold breakfast cereal and dark bread.