Monday, March 19, 2012

Apples may cut diabetes risk

I eat an apple a day (at least), but thankfully that has not kept away at least one doctor who is a regular reader and, sometimes, correspondent.

Today he points to a new analysis that adds to the already impressive list of health benefits from eating apples (and also, in this case, blueberries and pears): reduced risk of type-2 diabetes.

The analysis, forthcoming in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, finds a likely 23% reduction in adult-onset diabetes from eating at least 5 apples per week, based on a large data sample.

The conclusion is described in a news story (Reuters, March 16) that says,

researchers suggested that certain flavonoids especially high in those fruits might be behind their possibly beneficial effect on diabetes risk.... These results jibe with an earlier Finnish report related to consumption of berries and apples and diabetes risk.

Or, as the authors put it in their abstract, "A higher consumption of anthocyanins and anthocyanin-rich fruit was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes."

The data for this research are extracted from decades-long surveys of the diets and health of more than 200,000 health-care professionals. It's beyond the scope of Adam's Apples to peer review this research, but that is a hefty data set.

Meanwhile, the Doc prescribes a grain of salt: "my take, and I have not read the study, is people who eat lots of fruit do lots of other good things." In other words, "healthy-person bias."

Can't a survey like this control for some of that? In any case, I plan to play it safe and eat the apples. And only partly for health reasons.

Reference: Wedick, Nicole, An Pan, Aedín Cassidy, Eric Rimm, Laura Sampson, Bernard Rosner, Walter Willett, Frank Hu, Qi Sun, and Rob van Dam. "Dietary Flavonoid Intakes and Risk of Type-2 Diabetes in U.S. Men and Women" Am J Clin Nutr April 2012.

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