Any Healthy Diet Helps Prevent Diabetes

| April 26, 2017

Not long ago, official advice was telling us diet, including sugar consumption, was not a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Of course, now we know better – but with more knowledge has come diet after diet… all claiming to reduce diabetes risk. So, to stay healthy, should you go for the low-carb, low glycaemic load, high-fat, DASH, Paleo or Mediterranean eating plan?

A recent review study has concluded that it doesn’t matter, so long as your diet is “healthy”.1 According to the study authors, that means plenty of fruit, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, lean meats and good oils, with little or moderate alcohol, and low intake of processed meats, junk foods and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Researchers at the University of Naples looked at all the studies carried out so far linking diet with type 2 diabetes. They found no significant differences in the benefits of different types of healthy eating patterns on diabetes incidence. All cut the risk of type 2 diabetes by around a quarter to a third. And these diets worked all over the world, in studies conducted in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia.

The review also confirmed that people at greatest risk of developing diabetes get the biggest benefits from a healthy diet. For instance, a Mediterranean diet was linked to a 35 per cent risk reduction in those with multiple metabolic or cardiovascular risk factors, compared with a 17 per cent risk reduction in healthy participants. While none of this comes as a big surprise, it is helpful to see all the research pulled together in one place.

Don’t forget the fruit (including avocados)

Fruit is often a confusing class of food for people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome, due to its natural sugar content and the fact that different fruits can affect blood sugar levels differently. But including fresh fruit in your diet could reduce your risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and death, according to a study carried out in China.2

Researchers analysed the diet and health records of half a million people who took part in a major project investigating risk factors for chronic diseases, over a seven-year period. The records documented new cases of diabetes and recorded cardiovascular complications and death in people with pre-existing diabetes.

They found people who ate more fresh fruit had a slightly lower risk of developing diabetes. And in people with diabetes, fruit consumption was linked to lower rates of cardiovascular problems and death. To get the biggest benefits, go for fruits that are low in sugar and high in healthy polyphenols – like summer berries, apples, pears and plums.

Another great fruit is the avocado, which contains high amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids. Eating avocados regularly can help lower cholesterol levels and promote a healthy blood fat profile. A new review of scientific studies on avocados and health shows that this nutrient-dense superfood can also help to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels, prevent obesity, blood clots and arterial plaque, and protect against heart disease.3

As well as eating a healthy diet, regular physical activity is another important factor in diabetes prevention. But if you find it hard to get off the sofa and into your exercise gear, the kind of fats you are eating may be to blame. I’ll tell you why in my next blog post.

Wishing you the best of health,

Martin Hum
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth

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Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone’s personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


1. Maiorino MI, Bellastella G, Giugliano D, Esposi K. Can diet prevent diabetes? J Diabetes Complications. 2017; 31(1):288-290. 

2. Du H, Li L, Bennett D et al. Fresh fruit consumption in relation to incident diabetes and diabetic vascular complications: A 7-yr prospective study of 0.5 million Chinese adults. PLoS Med. 2017;14(4):e1002279. 

3. Tabeshpour J, Razavi BM, Hosseinzadeh H. Effects of avocado (Persea americana) on metabolic syndrome: a comprehensive systematic review. Phytother Res. 2017 Apr 10 (Online ahead of print).

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