Fruit May Have Benefits for Diabetes

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A large study has found that eating fresh fruit may reduce the risk for developing diabetes, and the risk for its complications.

Fresh fruit has well-known health benefits. But some experts, and some people with diabetes, question whether its high sugar content could pose risks.

The study, in PLoS Medicine, tracked diet and health in 512,891 Chinese men and women ages 30 to 79 for an average of seven years, controlling for smoking, alcohol intake, blood pressure and other factors.

Among those without diabetes at the start, eating fresh fruit daily was associated with a 12 percent lower risk of developing the disease compared with those who ate none. The more frequently they ate fruit, the lower their risk.

In people who were already diabetic, those who ate fruit three times a week had a 17 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality, and a lower risk for diabetic complications like heart and kidney disease, than those who didn’t eat fruit.

The study was observational and the reason for the effect remains unclear. But the lead author, Dr. Huaidong Du, a research fellow at the University of Oxford, said “the sugar in fruit is not the same as the sugar in manufactured foods and may be metabolized differently. And there are other nutrients in fruit that may benefit in other ways.”