Fruit Consumption and Diabetes

By: Katie Wolf

Diabetes is a global problem. It affects more than 400 million people around the world, which equates to a quarter of diabetics living in China alone.1 In the quest for diabetes maintenance, one approach is to make dietary changes. Fresh fruits and vegetables are recommended to a person who is diabetic. However, there is limited data on the effects of fresh fruit recommended to diabetic individuals. Normally, in China, fruit is consumed raw and eaten as a snack. Additionally, if a person in China is diagnosed with diabetes, (or “sugar urine disease” in Chinese) it is believed they should avoid or restrict all sweet tasting, sugar containing foods.1 Consequently, this would include fresh fruits.

            The sugar content in fruit tends to be higher than the sugar content in vegetables. This high sugar content in fruit may have an effect on people who are diabetic. Fruit contains glucose and fructose, which may have negative impacts on glycemic control. Thus, natural sugar may be metabolized differently compared to refined sugar. Fresh fruit is a good source of fiber, minerals, antioxidants, which may reduce the risk of diabetes and vascular complications. This study intended to examine the impact of fresh fruit consumption and the incidence of diabetes as well as the risk for development of major vascular complications.

            This seven year study included 512,891 Chinese participants from ten diverse regions, with ages ranging from 35 to 74 years. Of these 512,891 participants, 30,300 (5.9%) had diabetes at baseline. Furthermore, 18.8% of the participants reported that they consumed fresh fruit daily and 6.4% of the participants claimed that they never or rarely ate fresh fruit. During the seven years, 9,504 new cases of diabetes were documented among the 482,591 participants that did not have diabetes at baseline.

            In conclusion, fruit consumption was inversely associated with risk of hospitalization due to diabetic vascular complications.1 The associations between fresh fruit consumption and diabetic complications were consistent. That is to say, high fresh fruit intake was significantly associated with a lowered risk for developing diabetes, lowered risk for vascular complications, and lowered risk for people who had already developed diabetes. Furthermore, fresh fruit consumption was not associated with elevated blood glucose levels. This study shows that it is important for China and other countries in Asia to understand the importance of fresh fruit and its implications to help prevent and manage diabetes.


References:

  1. Du H, Li L, Bennett D et al. Fresh fruit consumption in relation to incident diabetes and diabetic vascular complications: A 7-y prospective study of 0.5 million Chinese adults. PLOS Medicine. 2017; 14(4).
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