Broccoli and co may protect women from diabetes

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Diabetes, Vegetable

An increased intake of green leafy vegetables may reduce the risk
of women developing type-2 diabetes, suggests a new study from New
Orleans.

For every additional serving of green leafy vegetables, the risk of developing diabetes may be reduced by almost 10 per cent, according to results of an epidemiological study published in the journal Diabetes Care​. The study, led by Lydia Bazzano from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, adds to a growing body of science supporting the intake of vegetables for diabetes risk reduction. The researchers recruited 71,346 female nurses aged between 38 and 63, and asked them to complete a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) in order to establish dietary habits. Questionnaires were completed every four years and the women followed for 18 years. None of the women had diabetes, heart disease or cancer at the start of the study. Over the course of the study, 4,529 women developed diabetes. Correlating diabetes with dietary habits, Bazzano and co-workers calculated that the total consumption of all fruit and vegetables was not associated with diabetes risk. However, when they looked only at whole fruit consumption, an 18 per cent reduction in diabetes risk was observed. Moreover, an increase of one serving per day of green leafy vegetables reduced the risk of diabetes by nine per cent, they said. This reduction was described by the researchers as "modest". Worryingly, they did report an increase in the risk of developing diabetes amongst women with high fruit juice consumption. The study does have several limitations, most notably the use of FFQs that are subjects to some errors with regards to recalling dietary intakes, and the possibility that subjects changed their diets when pre-type-2 diabetes began to manifest itself. In addition, the women were asked to self-diagnose their diabetes. Despite these limitations, the study adds to the small but growing body of evidence linking vegetable intake to a reduced risk of diabetes, although it does not prove causality. An estimated 19 million people are affected by diabetes in the EU 25, equal to four per cent of the total population. This figure is projected to increase to 26 million by 2030. In the US, there are over 20 million people with diabetes, equal to seven per cent of the population. The total costs are thought to be as much as $132 billion, with $92 billion being direct costs from medication, according to 2002 American Diabetes Association figures. Source: Diabetes Care ​Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.2337/dc08-0080 "Intake of Fruit, Vegetables, and Fruit Juices and Risk of Diabetes in Women" ​Authors: L.A. Bazzano, T.Y. Li, K.J. Joshipura, F.B. Hu

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