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Can specific fruits and vegetables prevent diabetes?

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 19 August 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4395
  1. Jim Mann, professor1,
  2. Dagfinn Aune, research assistant2
  1. 1Edgar National Centre for Diabetes and Obesity Research, Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Imperial College, London W2 1PG
  1. jim.mann{at}

    Green leafy vegetables show promise, but increasing overall intake of fruit and vegetables is advisable

    The prevalence of type 2 diabetes continues to reach epidemic proportions worldwide, with no sign of abating.1 On a positive note, clinical trials show that lifestyle interventions can reduce the risk of progression from impaired glucose tolerance to type 2 diabetes by about 60%.2 Lifestyle interventions that reduce the risk of diabetes have emphasised reduced intake of total and saturated fat; increased intake of vegetables, fruit, and wholegrain cereals; and increased physical activity. All of these interventions contribute to weight loss, which is the major determinant of a successful outcome.3

    Given the potential of such a lifestyle package to reduce other illnesses associated with obesity it is hardly surprising that it forms the cornerstone of programmes worldwide aimed at reducing the risk of chronic diseases. However, surprisingly few dietary factors have been convincingly established as independent risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

    Because fruit and vegetables are rich in dietary fibre, antioxidant nutrients, and magnesium they are prime candidates for protecting …

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