Upping fruit, veggies and grain intake can cut your diabetes risk by 25%

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  • New studies found that increasing fruit, vegetable and wholegrain consumption can prevent type 2 diabetes
  • For example, people with the highest levels of wholegrain consumption had a 29% lower rate of type 2 diabetes 
  • This conclusion is only observational as studies can't prove cause and effect


Eating more fruits, vegetables and wholegrain foods could lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, two new studies suggest.

In one study, researchers looked at more than 9 700 people who developed type 2 diabetes and over 13 600 who didn't. Participants were from eight European countries and part of a long-term cancer and nutrition study.

After adjusting for lifestyle, and social and dietary risk factors for diabetes, people with the highest levels of fruit and vegetable consumption were 50% less likely to develop diabetes than those with the lowest levels, the researchers found.

High levels of wholegrain

Every 66 grams a day (2.3 ounces) increase in total fruit and vegetable intake was associated with a 25% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, Nita Forouhi, of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues calculated.

The other study included more than 158 000 US women and over 36 000 US men.

After adjusting for lifestyle and dietary risk factors for diabetes, people with the highest levels of wholegrain consumption had a 29% lower rate of type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest levels, the findings showed.

In terms of specific wholegrain foods, one or more servings a day of wholegrain cold breakfast cereal or dark bread was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (19% and 21%, respectively) compared with less than one serving a month.

Results back up recommendations

Two or more servings a week compared with less than one serving a month was associated with a 21% lower risk for oatmeal, a 15% lower risk for added bran, and a 12% lower risk for brown rice and wheat germ.

The reductions in diabetes risk appeared to plateau at around two servings a day for total wholegrain intake, and at around half a serving a day for whole grain cereal and dark bread, according to Qi Sun, an associate professor of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues.

The studies can't prove cause and effect. Still, both research teams said their results back up recommendations to increase fruit, vegetable and wholegrain consumption as part of a healthy diet to prevent type 2 diabetes.

The studies were published on 8 July in the BMJ.

Image credit: iStock

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