You are probably well-familiarized with my controversial stance on fructose. Compelling evidence shows that fructose is, by far, more harmful to your health than other sugars—especially when it is removed from whole fruits and highly processed and genetically modified, such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) found in most processed foods. I have also, as a general rule, warned you of eating too much fruit, as many fruits can be quite high in fructose.
Can You Reduce Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes with Your Fruit Choices?
According to a new analysis of three cohort studies, published in the British Medical Journal, whole fruits—particularly blueberries, grapes, prunes and apples—may, in fact, reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. Conversely, consumption of fruit juices was associated with greater risk. According to senior author Qi Sun, an assistant professor in the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health:
While fruits are recommended as a measure for diabetes prevention, previous studies have found mixed results for total fruit consumption. Our findings provide novel evidence suggesting that certain fruits may be especially beneficial for lowering diabetes risk.
The researchers analyzed the dietary records of nearly 190,000 people who had participated in three studies from 1984 to 2008. None of the participants were diagnosed with diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer at the outset of the studies.
They found that those who ate blueberries, grapes and apples at least twice a week were up to 23 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, compared to those who ate these fruits once a month or less.
I find this quite surprising, as grapes and apples are particularly high in fructose (as you can see in the chart below). It is unclear why the authors observed this benefit here but it is likely that the phytonutrients found in the apples and grapes are more than compensate for any potential fructose toxicity.
Antioxidants and other phytonutrients combat inflammation, which is a hallmark of diabetes and most other chronic diseases. Similarly, blueberries, which are much lower in fructose, have in other studies also been found to be of benefit for diabetics primarily due to their high antioxidant content.
One antioxidant, in particular, called quercetin, could potentially help explain some of the results. Apples for example, while high in fructose, contains this flavonoid, which actually blocks some of the fructose metabolism according to expert Dr. Richard Johnson. Red grapes, plums and many different berries, including blueberries. also, contain quercetin.