Eating a handful of blueberries could cut your risk for developing diabetes, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.
BBC reports that eating more fruit, particularly blueberries but also apples and grapes, reduces one’s risk of developing Type-2 diabetes. Researchers looked at the diets of more than 187,000 people in the U.S.
For the study, they used questionnaires to follow up with their participants every four years, asking how often they ate a standard portion of fruit. The fruits used in the study were grapes or raisins, peaches, plums, apricots, prunes, bananas, cantaloupe, apples, pears, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries and blueberries.
An analysis of the data showed that three servings of blueberries, grapes and raisins, apples and pears each week significantly reduced the risk of Type-2 diabetes.
Blueberries in particular reduced diabetes risk by 26 percent, a number that increased when the berries were substituted for juice. Swapping out juice, especially for blueberries, reduced risk by 33 percent.
Researchers believe that these fruits reduce risk because they contain high levels of anthocyanins, which enhance glucose uptake. They also contain naturally-occurring polyphenols, known to have beneficial effects. All of the fruits used in the study reduced risk, these were just particularly effective.
“Fruits have highly variable contents of fibre, antioxidants, other nutrients, and phytochemicals that jointly may influence the risk,” researchers wrote in the study paper.
Officials at Diabetes UK were skeptical of the findings. While diabetes experts agreed that eating fruit could potentially reduce the risk of develop diabetes, the found the study’s data collection unreliable.
“Some of the findings are based on a number of assumptions and models which may have distorted the results significantly,” said Dr. Matthew Hobbs of Diabetes UK.
“For example, the researchers used surveys to ask participants how often they ate certain foods. This type of survey can often be unreliable as people are more likely to remember certain types of food.”
Should you eat blueberries to reduce your diabetes risk? Couldn’t hurt, right?
187,000 people in the US.