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Leafy vegetables lower diabetes risk

Leafy vegetables lower diabetes risk Alas, you must eat the spinach, not take supplements

Eating green leafy vegetables such as spinach can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to the latest research.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and is strongly associated with being overweight. It mainly affects people over the age of 40. The incidence of type 2 diabetes has risen sharply in the past two decades.

Researchers reviewed six studies covering 220,000 participants that focused on the links between fruit and vegetable consumption and type 2 diabetes.

They found that eating one and a half extra servings of green leafy vegetables a day reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14%. However, eating more fruit and vegetables combined does not significantly affect this risk.

The study said fruit and vegetables may prevent chronic diseases because of their antioxidant content, with vegetables like spinach possibly acting to reduce type 2 diabetes risk because of its high magnesium content.

However, the authors stressed that the results support evidence that the foods themselves, rather than their 'components', such as antioxidants, are beneficial to health. In other words, taking supplements does not compare to eating the spinach.

The study noted that 86% of UK adults eat less than the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, with 62% consuming less than three portions.

Commenting on the study, Professor Jim Mann from the University of Otago in New Zealand said that given the limited number of studies, “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.”

This article was published on Fri 20 August 2010

Image © LanaK - Fotolia.com

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