Green 'Leafy Vegetables' Reduce Diabetes Risk

Eating more green leafy vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, new research has claimed.

The authors, led by Patrice Carter at the University of Leicester, said there is a need for further investigation into the potential benefits of green leafy vegetables.

In the last two decades there has been a dramatic increase in the number of individuals developing type 2 diabetes worldwide.

Diets high in fruit and vegetables are known to help reduce both cancer and heart disease, but the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and diabetes remains unclear, say the authors.

The researchers also note that previous research found that in 2002, 86% of UK adults consumed less than the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, with 62% consuming less than three portions. The study said that "it was estimated that inadequate consumption of fruit and vegetables could have accounted for 2.6 million deaths worldwide in the year 2000."

Patrice Carter and colleagues reviewed six studies involving over 220,000 participants that focused on the links between fruit and vegetable consumption and type 2 diabetes.

The results reveal 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 as a whole for prevention of type 2 diabetes may have been obscured.

The authors believe that fruit and vegetables can prevent chronic diseases because of their antioxidant content. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach may also act to reduce type 2 diabetes risk due to their high magnesium content.

The authors argue that "our results support the evidence that 'foods' rather than isolated components such as antioxidants are beneficial for health... results from several supplement trials have produced disappointing results for prevention of disease."

In conclusion, they believe that offering tailored advice to encourage individuals to eat more green leafy vegetables should be investigated further.

In an accompanying editorial, Professor Jim Mann from the University of Otago in New Zealand and Research Assistant Dagfinn Aune from Imperial College London, are cautious about the results and say the message of increasing overall fruit and vegetable intake must not be lost "in a plethora of magic bullets", even though green leafy vegetables clearly can be included as one of the five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

They argue 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 fruit and vegetables and too early for a conclusion regarding green leafy vegetables."


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

01 April 2014
Five-A-Day Fruit And Veg Is Not Enough - UCL Report
Eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day reduces your risk of death at any point in time by 42% compared to eating less than one portion, according to a report by the University College London UCL.
21 September 2005
‘More pesticides’ found in school fruit
Fruit and vegetables given to children in schools contain over 25% more pesticides than those sold in shops, research has revealed.
06 April 2011
Disadvantaged Families Get Healthy Boost
Low-income families now have the choice to buy frozen fruit and vegetables as part of the Healthy Start scheme, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced today. The scheme supports over half a million pregnant women and low-income families by giving them vouchers that until now could only be spent on fresh fruit, vegetables and milk.
21 October 2009
Healthy Food 'Task Force' Launched
A new Task Force will help England to grow and eat more fruit and vegetables and improve the nation's health, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced today.
27 January 2006
Eating fruit and vegetables could prevent strokes
Eating more fruit and vegetables could help reduce the risk of suffering a stroke, new research has suggested. In a study published in 'The Lancet', researchers at the University of London analysed results from eight studies from Europe, Japan and the US, involving over 257,000 participants.