According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 26 million Americans have diabetes. It is a common misconception that people who have diabetes cannot eat carbohydrates. Everyone needs carbohydrates, but not all carbohydrates are created equally. When I educate clients or future dietitians about nutrition therapy for diabetes, I focus on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk to healthfully meet carbohydrate needs. And now there is even more research to support this guidance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition just released findings that eating more flavonoids from blueberries, apples, and pears may reduce risk for type 2 diabetes.
Flavonoids are classes of pigments in plant foods known to have strong antioxidant activity against chronic diseases. The current study followed over 200,000 U.S. men and women for upwards of 24 years, and dietary intakes and risk for diabetes were monitored. Of the 200,000 participants, 12,611 developed type 2 diabetes during the study period. Using dietary intake patterns, it was noted that participants with the highest flavonoid intake, particularly anthocyanins – the red and purple pigments found in blueberries, apples, and pears – were least likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Indeed, those who consumed two servings of blueberries and five servings of apples and pears per week had a 23% decrease in risk for diabetes! So, what are you waiting for? Start munching!