Fresh fruits are loaded with fiber, antioxidants and other great nutrients. And studies show that eating fruit whole gives you the most of this food group’s potential benefits, like helping to prevent heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.
While drinking smoothies can be convenient and healthy if they’re not loaded with added sugar, you lose some of the fruits’ fiber during the blending. It’s also easy to drink a lot more calories than you’d get in one or even two pieces of whole fruit.
Research published in the British journal BMJ suggests that eating certain whole fruits in particular may significantly lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. Since type 2 diabetes is epidemic in the United States, finding ways to prevent it is critical to continued good health.
For the study, researchers looked at decades of diet and health records for thousands of people. They saw — but did not prove — that those who ate 2 or more servings each week of fruits like blueberries, grapes, raisins, prunes, apples and pears reduced their likelihood of getting type 2 diabetes by 23 percent.
Conversely, drinking fruit juice every day had the opposite effect, increasing the chances of diabetes by 21 percent. One possible reason: the spikes in blood sugar that the concentrated sugars in juice can cause.
It’s not yet clear which nutrients in those good-for-you fruits may offer diabetes protection. But one thing seems certain: An apple a day might keep the blood sugar disease away.
And don’t forget to eat a fruit’s peel or skin when edible — it’s a powerhouse of nutrients.
For ideas on shopping for and planning meals with fruits in mind, go to Fruits and Veggies — More Matters.