Cutting out sugar is typically high on the list of healthy eating choices. It’s been linked to a number of health problems and can actually increase the risk of getting diabetes. So, it’s particularly surprising to find out that fruit can be one of the best choices for avoiding diabetes and its complications.
Benefits of Fruits
A study of over half a million Chinese adults found that people without diabetes who ate fresh fruit each day had a 12% lower risk of developing diabetes than people who didn’t eat fresh fruit regularly. The study also found that people who already had diabetes had a 17% lower risk of dying and 13-28% lower risk of complications like strokes, eye disease, and kidney disease.
The study didn’t look into why the sugar in fruit has these positive effects, but there are a few potential reasons. One reason might be that the sugars in fruit get processed differently in the body than the processed sugars found in sodas and candy, leading to beneficial health effects like a slightly lowered blood sugar level. Another reason could be that fruits have lots of fiber, minerals, and antioxidants that help your metabolism and gut microbiome function.
Types of Fruit to Eat
Any type of fruit helps, but some work slightly better than others. Fruits that your body can digest and absorb more slowly – like apples, oranges, pears, and berries – tend to have more beneficial effects and do a slightly better job of preventing diabetes. These are called “low glycaemic index” foods.
Fruits that have a higher glycaemic index are digested and absorbed by your body quicker. These fruits include bananas, grapes, and tropical fruits like pineapple. These aren’t quite as good at preventing diabetes or related complications, but studies have confirmed that they still do lower the risk of diabetes.
“Eating fresh fruit is key to getting the benefits related to diabetes prevention.”
Fresh or Processed Fruits?
Whether it is a piece of fruit or fresh juice, make sure that there isn’t added sugar and that the food hasn’t been processed. Processed fruits can include fruits that have been canned, frozen, dried, or pre-juiced.
Though it may seem counter-intuitive to add a sweet food into your diet when you’re looking to prevent diabetes, fruits actually have proven benefits to reducing the risk of diabetes and its complications. But, of course, be sure to keep fruit consumption in check and check with your doctor before starting any nutrition program. Eating too much fruit can result in weight gain, which does increase the risk of diabetes.