For years, nutritionists have debated whether fruit — rich in natural sugars — has a net positive or net negative impact on type 2 diabetes risk. Now a Harvard School of Public Health finding suggests that overall, eating several servings of fruit a week offers slight protection against type 2 diabetes. But certain fruits — blueberries, grapes, and apples — offer greater benefits.
In the study, published online last Wednesday in the British Medical Journal, the Harvard researchers examined the dietary habits of more than 187,000 participants involved in three long-term studies and found that people who ate fruit at least three times a week had a 2 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with those who ate less fruit.
But those who ate three servings a week of blueberries had more than a 25 percent lower risk, while grapes were associated with an 11 percent reduced risk and apples with a 5 percent lower risk. Drinking fruit juice, on the other hand, slightly raised a person’s risk of developing the disease, and so did eating cantaloupes. Should these results lead us to change our eating habits, choosing, say, blueberries over melon? No, said study coauthor Qi Sun, an epidemiologist. “We don’t want to leave the impression that there’s any magical fruit,” he said, since the study doesn’t prove that eating blueberries actually helps people avoid diabetes.