Aug. 19, 2010 -- People who add more green leafy vegetables to their diet may significantly reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study says.
Patrice Carter, a research nutritionist at the University of Leicester, and colleagues reviewed six studies involving more than 220,000 people that focused on the links between fruits and vegetables and type 2 diabetes.
They conclude that eating one and one half servings of green leafy vegetables per day reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14%. However, they also found that eating more fruits and vegetables combined doesn’t seem to affect this risk.
86% of adults in the United Kingdom ate less than the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, according to a 2002 study.
62% ate fewer than three servings.
Eat More Vegetables
The authors say that fruits and vegetables can prevent several chronic diseases, likely because of their antioxidant content.
Spinach and other green leafy veggies may reduce type 2 diabetes risk because of their high concentrations of polyphenols and vitamin C, both of which have antioxidant properties. They also contain magnesium, which may further reduce risk.
They conclude that specific, tailored advice needs to be given to people to encourage them to eat more green leafy vegetables.
Despite mounting evidence, the Leicester researchers’ study has met some mild skepticism.
Jim Mann, PhD, of the University of Otago in New Zealand, and research assistant Dagfinn Aune from Imperial College London say they are cautious about the results. They say the message of eating more fruits and vegetables should not get lost “in a plethora of magic bullets.”
They say that given the limited number of studies that focused on fruits, vegetables, and type 2 diabetes risk, “it may be too early to dismiss a small reduction in risk for overall fruit and vegetable intake or other specific types of fruits and vegetables, and too early for a conclusion regarding green leafy vegetables.”
But Carter and colleagues seem to be saying that it’s better to err on the side of caution, and that some evidence suggests that green leafy vegetables reduce diabetes risk, even though “the exact mechanisms” are not known.
"The study adds to the evidence that a healthy lifestyle, and in particular green leafy vegetables, can help prevent type 2 diabetes," Carter tells WebMD.
The study is published in the BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal.
Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!
Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Thank you for signing up for the WebMD Diabetes Newsletter!
You'll find tips and tricks as well as the latest news and research on Diabetes.
Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?
Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.