Green leafy vegetables can cut risk of diabetes: study

Fri Aug 20, 2010 5:45pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Eating more green leafy vegetables can significantly cut the risk of developing diabetes, scientists said on Friday.

British researchers reviewed six earlier studies on links between diabetes and the consumption of fruits and vegetables and found eating an extra serving a day of vegetables like spinach, cabbage, and broccoli reduced adults' risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 14 percent.

The findings don't prove that the veggies themselves prevent type 2 diabetes which is often linked to poor diet and lack of exercise and is reaching epidemic levels as obesity rates rise.

People who eat more green leafy vegetables may also have a healthier diet overall, exercise more, or may be better off financially and any of those factors could affect how likely they are to get diabetes.

But, "the data suggest that green leafy vegetables are key," said researcher Patrice Carter of the diabetes research unit at Leicester University.

The review, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at six studies, which covered more than 200,000 people between 30 and 74 years old, in the United States, China and Finland.

"Fruit and vegetables are all good, but the data significantly show that green leafy vegetables are particularly interesting, so further investigation is warranted," Carter said in a telephone interview.

Green leafy vegetables contain antioxidants, magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids -- all of which have been shown to have health benefits, she added.

Each of the studies that Carter and her colleagues analyzed followed a group of adults over periods of 4-and-a-half to 23 years, recording how many servings of fruits and vegetables each participant ate on a daily basis then examining who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.   Continued...

<p>A farmer works in a cabbage field on the outskirts of Agartala, capital of India's northeastern state of Tripura, December 20, 2009. REUTERS/Jayanta Dey</p>