In a study of 7,675 Australians, higher total fruit consumption was associated with better measures of glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity; furthermore, a moderate to high total fruit consumption was associated with lower odds of diabetes after 5 years of follow-up.
A healthy diet that includes the consumption of popular fruits, such as apples, bananas and oranges, but not fruit juice, may play a role in mitigating risk of type 2 diabetes. Image credit: Romanov.
Type 2 diabetes is a growing public health concern with an estimated 451 million people worldwide living with the condition.
A further 374 million people are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
“We found an association between fruit intake and markers of insulin sensitivity, suggesting that people who consumed more fruit had to produce less insulin to lower their blood glucose levels,” said Dr. Nicola Bondonno, a researcher in the School of Medical and health Sciences at Edith Cowan University and the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Western Australia.
“This is important because high levels of circulating insulin (hyperinsulinemia) can damage blood vessels and are related not only to diabetes, but also to high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease.”
“A healthy diet and lifestyle, which includes the consumption of whole fruits, is a great strategy to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”
Dr. Bondonno and her colleagues analyzed data from 7,675 participants of the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study and assessed fruit and fruit juice intake and the prevalence of diabetes after five years.
Compared to participants with the lowest intakes, participants with moderate total fruit intakes (at least two serves of fruit daily) had a 36% lower odds of having diabetes at 5 years.
“We did not observe the same beneficial relationship for fruit juice,” Dr. Bondonno said.
“Higher insulin sensitivity and a lower risk of diabetes were only observed for people who consumed whole fruit, not fruit juice. This is likely because juice tends to be much higher in sugar and lower in fiber.”
“It’s still unclear exactly how fruit contributes to insulin sensitivity, but it is likely to be multifaceted,” she added.
“As well as being high in vitamins and minerals, fruits are a great source of phytochemicals which may increase insulin sensitivity, and fiber which helps regulate the release of sugar into the blood and also helps people feel fuller for longer.”
“Furthermore, most fruits typically have a low glycemic index, which means the fruit’s sugar is digested and absorbed into the body more slowly.”
Nicola P. Bondonno et al. Associations between fruit intake and risk of diabetes in the AusDiab cohort. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & metabolism, published online June 2, 2021; doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgab335