The health benefits of eating fresh fruit and vegetables are well-established: fruit is a rich source of potassium, dietary fibre and antioxidants, contains little sodium or fat and relatively few calories. However, the sugar content of fruit has led to concerns about its potential harm for people with diabetes and consequently Chinese people diagnosed with diabetes tend to restrict their fruit intake.
The prevalence of diabetes is rising rapidly in China and many other East Asian countries, and worldwide evidence on the effects of fruit consumption on the development, progression and complications of diabetes is currently limited.
Researchers from the University of Oxford, Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences studied 500,000 adults aged 35-74 years from 10 urban and rural areas across China, tracking their health through hospital records of illness and death registries. During 7 years of follow-up, the study found nearly 10,000 new cases of diabetes among participants who did not have the condition at the start of the study. Among over 30,000 participants with pre-existing diabetes when they joined the study, there were 3,400 deaths and 11,000 cases of vascular diseases.
The study author, Dr Huaidong Du from the Nuffield Department of Population Health (NDPH), said “This is the first large prospective cohort study demonstrating clear beneficial associations of fresh fruit consumption with both development and progression of diabetes and the analyses have taken into account the potential impacts from a range of other socioeconomic and lifestyle factors.”
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