Eating fresh fruit can significantly lower the risk of diabetes, according to a major new long-term study from Oxford University.
Researchers monitored 500,000 Chinese adults from diverse regions across a seven-year period. Participants completed a detailed questionnaire and underwent physical measurements and blood tests, with their health tracked subsequently during the study's time period.
Among those who did not have diabetes at the start of the study, daily consumption of fresh fruit was associated with a 12 per cent lower risk of developing diabetes, compared to never or rarely consuming fresh fruit.
In those who already had diabetes, consuming fresh fruit more than three days a week was associated with a 17 per cent lower risk of dying from any cause and were up to a third less likely to develop diabetes-related complications.
The study was done because fruit is often not considered as healthy as veg for those with diabetes, given the relatively higher sugar content, researchers said.
Results contradicted this, the study found, with higher levels of fruit intake likely to be beneficial to prevention of diabetes.
“To our knowledge, this is the first large prospective study demonstrating similar inverse associations of fruit consumption with both incident diabetes and diabetic complications,” researchers said.
“These findings suggest that a higher intake of fresh fruit is potentially beneficial for primary and secondary prevention of diabetes.”
Restricted consumption of fresh fruit, which is common in many parts of the world, e.g. China and other Asian countries, should not be encouraged, the study said.
It was published online in the PLOS Medicine journal.