Fruit may help diabetic complications

By Doug Bennett • Published: August 9th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Some people with diabetes shun fruit due to its high sugar content. Now, a study suggests fruit may actually reduce the risk of developing diabetes and could ward off complications from the disease. An observational study that tracked more than a half-million Chinese men and women for seven years found that eating fruit is associated with fewer cases of diabetes.

Among diabetics, eating fruit three times a week cut the risk of complications such as circulatory problems and kidney disease. For those without diabetes, fresh-fruit consumption was associated with a 12 percent lower risk of developing the disease. Eating fruit also appeared to have a cumulative effect: The risk of developing diabetes dropped as fruit consumption rose.

What isn’t clear from the study is a firm cause-and-effect relationship between fruit, diabetes development and its complications. However, researchers in China and England who conducted the study note that the sugar found in fruit is metabolized differently than the refined sugar found in processed foods. Both fruit sugar and processed sugar raise blood glucose levels, but the body’s rapid breakdown of refined sugar is what makes insulin levels spike.

The study did not ask participants which fruits they ate, though the researchers noted that oranges, pears and apples are the most commonly eaten fruits in China. Those fruits release sugar into the blood more slowly than grapes, bananas and tropical fruits.

Weight control, regular exercise and healthy eating remain the best way to reduce the risk of developing diabetes, but a modest serving of fruit may now be an option.