Fruits and vegetables have always been a reliable source of important vitamins and minerals. Now, a new study published in the journal Diabetes Care is saying that fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes as well.

Studying over 3,700 adults in the UK, researchers tried to determine whether or not eating more fruits and vegetables gave people additional health benefits. Aged 40 to 79, the participants were asked to keep a week-long food diary to help them keep track of what they had eaten. Over 11 years, 653 of the participants went on to develop type 2 diabetes.

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Based on the study findings, however, those who consumed the most fruits and vegetables were least likely to suffer diabetes. Of the one-third who ate the most fruits and vegetables, only 16 percent was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes compared to the 21 percent of the one-third who ate the least. Even after accounting for possible influences like weight and lifestyle, the results persisted.

Interestingly, there was also a lowered risk of diabetes in participants who ate varied fruits and vegetables. According to researchers, people who consumed an average of 16 different fruits and vegetables per week were 40 percent less likely to get diabetes than those who simply consumed an average of eight.

While researchers say they still can’t directly credit fruits and vegetables for lowering the risk of diabetes, it’s not a bad idea to increase the variety of fruits and vegetables you eat. Eating more than just your usual apples and oranges also provides you with helpful nutrients like phytochemicals, which are believed to help protect cells from damage that might lead to chronic disease. So the next time you find yourself at the grocery, don’t be afraid to reach for the fruits and vegetables you don’t normally buy. Have fun trying something new!

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(Photo by marcella bona via Flickr Creative Commons)

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