Patients with diabetes who consumed fruit have a reduced risk of mortality.
Consuming multiple portions of fruits and vegetables has been proven beneficial to overall health. However, the health benefits of consuming fruit for patients with diabetes has not been well-established, especially in lower-income countries.
Although fruit contains natural sugar, rather than added sugar or sugar substitutes, this type of food can raise blood glucose levels. Therefore, the sugar content may cause some patients with diabetes to avoid consumption of fruit.
Despite these concerns, a higher intake of fresh fruit was linked to a lower incidence of diabetes and disease-related complications, according to a study published by PLOS Medicine.
Included in the study were nearly 500,000 patients with and without diabetes who were followed for 7 years as part of the China Kadoorie Biobank, which included information about new cases of diabetes, and vascular disease and death among patients with diabetes.
Interestingly, the authors discovered that patients who reported high consumption of fresh fruit had lower rates of developing diabetes compared with other patients. Individuals who consumed high amounts of fruits experienced a 0.2% reduction in the absolute risk of diabetes over 5 years, according to the study.
Among patients who have already developed diabetes, high consumption of fresh fruit was observed to reduce the risk of mortality. These patients had a 1.9% decrease in absolute risk of mortality, while also having a lower risk of experiencing microvascular and macrovascular complications.
The authors believe that these findings are especially important for patients living in Asian countries, where fruit consumption among patients with diabetes is restricted, according to the study.
“In many developed countries, diabetes patients usually have higher fruit consumption than individuals without diabetes due to targeted health promotion and nutrition education,” the authors wrote. “However, in China, people with previously diagnosed diabetes have a much lower level of fruit consumption, as observed in the present study, because of the incorrect belief that diabetes… will be better controlled if all sweet-tasting (or sugar-containing) foods, including fresh fruit, are restricted or avoided.”
The authors note that since the study is observational, they were unable to determine the impact of overall diet and other factors on diabetes development and complication.
These findings support the consumption of fresh fruit among patients with diabetes for overall health benefits. The study also underscores the need for public health initiatives to improve nutritional education for patients living in countries that currently restrict consumption of fruit for those with diabetes.
Additional studies are needed to explore the consumption of natural sugars in fresh fruit among these patients.
“This situation emphasizes [sic] the importance, given the present study findings, of better health promotion to improve public understanding of the role of fresh fruit in diabetes prevention and management,” the authors concluded.