Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Reduce Your Risk of Type-2 Diabetes By Eating Your Veggies

The antioxidants, magnesium, and fiber of vegetables may reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by up to 30 per cent, according to a new study coming from China.

The study, published in the March 2008 edition of the Journal of Nutrition, tracked the eating habits of 64,191 women aged 40 to 70 in China. Food choices were tracked at the beginning of the study and four-and-a-half years later, and rates of diabetes compared.

Researchers measured intakes of cruciferous vegetables (bok choi, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, and winter radish), other green leafy vegetables, yellow vegables, onions and garlic, tomatoes, and other vegetables. They also measured consumption of fruit.

The quintile of women eating the most vegetables--an average of 428 grams (nearly a pound) a day--was 28 less likely to become diabetic than the quntile of women eating the least--121.5 grams, or only about 1/4 pound a day. Eating more fruit did not reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

No particular vegetable stood out as diabetes-protective. The researchers believe that fiber, antioxidants, and magnesium in vegetables may all play an important role in preventing the disease. Generally speaking, vegetables are both relatively low-carb and low-fat, making them useful in almost any diet for weight loss or diabetes prevention.

The authors of the study also pointed out that vitamin C and vitamin E are also known to influence blood glucose levels. Even antioxidant like DHEA may play a role in the ongoing health of people with type-2 diabetes.

And because the study, jointly conducted by the Shanghai Cancer Institute and the Diabetes Research and Training Center in Nashville, Tennessee, only looked at diets of women in China, it is possible the results are not exactly applicable to other populations.

Still, this study is strong evidence that getting a full nine servings of vegetables a day may protect against developing diabetes type-2.

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Citation: Villegas R, Shu XO, Gao YT, Yang G, Elasy T, Li H, Zheng W. Vegetable but not fruit consumption reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes in Chinese women. J Nutr. 2008 Mar;138(3):574-80.


  1. Enjoyed your post. Actually, there are some vegetables that lower the risk of diabetes, nopal for one. Did this study consider nopal?

  2. Well, since nopal is primarily a food of Mexico and Texas and the desert southwest of the USA, no. But you are right, nopal is useful for diabetics. It just doesn't prevent diabetes. The "slimy" carbohydrates in nopal really slow down the absorption of glucose from carbs in the diet. Nopal will not, however, help you a whole lot if your diet is low-carb. But if you are a borderline-diabetic who eats a lot of beans and tortillas, it's great.

  3. I got my diabetes under control by eating kimchee. What do you think about kimchee?

  4. I think getting your diabetes under control is great no matter how you do it! Kimchee is tasty, although it's an acquired taste, and the habit of eating it at every meal certainly adds to your consumption of vegetables. I don't slurp up the liquid because of the salt, however.