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Diabetes Health Center

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Diet Dos, Don'ts to Cut Diabetes Risk

Studies Suggest Eating Fruits, Vegetables and Cutting Down on Sugary Drinks

Fruits and Vegetables May Cut Diabetes Risk continued...

After controlling for multiple other lifestyle factors, including vitamin supplement intake, the diagnosis of diabetes was 62% less likely in people with the highest blood levels of vitamin C and 22% less likely in those with the highest intake of fruits and vegetables. Participants with the highest vitamin C levels ate five to six servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

"Because fruit and vegetables are the main sources of vitamin C, the findings suggest that eating even a small quantity of fruit and vegetables may be beneficial and that the protection against diabetes increases progressively with the quantity of fruits and vegetables consumed," write the researchers, who included Anne-Helen Harding, PhD, of Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, England.

Low-Fat Diet: No Impact?

The third study set out to see whether a low-fat diet would lower diabetes risk in healthy postmenopausal women. But that turned out to be a tall order.

The study included nearly 46,000 postmenopausal U.S. women. The researchers, who included Lesley Tinker, PhD, of Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, split the women into two groups.

One group was assigned to cut their dietary fat to 20% of their daily calories, down from about 38% at the study's start. Women in that group also got intensive nutritional and behavioral counseling and regular group meetings to help them meet the low-fat goal.

For comparison, women in the other group weren't told to cut back on their dietary fat. They got a pamphlet with the federal government's dietary guidelines, but no counseling or group meetings.

None of the women in either group was asked to lose weight or get more exercise.

The study lasted for about eight years, and during that time, women in both groups were equally likely to report being diagnosed with diabetes. So Tinker's team concludes that cutting back on fat without exercising or losing weight may not be enough to curb diabetes risk.

But there is a catch: The women in the low-fat group cut back on fat, but not as much as they were supposed to.

Diet surveys showed that a year after the study began, the women in the low-fat group got about 24% of their daily calories from fat (mostly from saturated fat), and that this percentage edged up to almost 29% (still mostly saturated fat) by the study's sixth year -- well over the 20% goal. Trends in body weight were similar, with the low-fat women initially showing an average 5.3-pound weight loss, but regaining most of that weight by the end of the study.

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