Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

About The Buzz: Fruit Enhances Eye Health in Those with Type 2 Diabetes?

TheBUZZ Fruit enhances eye health in those with type 2 diabetes?

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Including about 2 pieces of fruit a day ( 253 grams or about 1 ½ cups) in a type 2 diabetic diet may protect against the development of retinopathy for diabetic individuals.

WHAT WE KNOW

Diabetic retinopathy is a serious eye condition that may develop in people who have diabetes resulting in blurred vision with spots or even blindness.1 Retinopathy is the breakdown of fragile blood vessels in the retina which will eventually cut off blood flow to the entire retina and vision will be lost. Often, diabetic retinopathy is brought on by continuous high blood sugar values, but high cholesterol and blood pressure, length of period a person has been diabetic, age, and even tobacco use can also be a cause.2

Most type 2 diabetic diets encourage limiting fruit because of sugar value and type of sugar, which may spike blood glucose values possibly leading to diabetic retinopathy over time. However, fruits are very high in vitamin C, carotene, and fiber which offer protective effects against damage caused by diabetes. Both vitamin C and carotene work in the body as antioxidants that fight against cell damage, including cells in the eye.3 Fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains helps keep blood sugar levels consistent, preventing large spikes in values.4 Therefore, including fruits in a type 2 diabetic diet may offer preventive effects against the development of diabetic retinopathy.

HOW WE KNOW THIS

Researchers analyzed food frequency questionnaires and 24-hour diet recalls for 978 patients that were involved in the Japan Diabetes Complication Study.5Participants were between 40 and 70 years of age with an A1c value of 6.5% or greater and no signs of diabetic retinopathy at the beginning of the study. Fruit intake was investigated along with vitamin C, carotene, vitamin E, fiber, potassium, and sodium to examine a potential relationship with diabetic retinopathy.

The authors found that participants who ate close to 253 grams a day (about 1 ½ cups or 2 pieces) of fruit had fewer incidences in the onset of diabetic retinopathy compared to individuals with a lower intake of fruit over an eight-year period. Study participants had the best outcome with fruits that were high in vitamin C, carotene, and fiber as part of a typical type 2 diabetic diet plan that is low in fat and calories. Fruits that contain vitamin C and carotene as well as fiber include: papayas, cantaloupe, apricots, watermelon, mango, tangerines. Nutrients in Half Cup of the Most Common Fruits

WHY THIS MATTERS

The protective effects of fruit against diabetic retinopathy may span beyond just the eyes for diabetic individuals. People with diabetes are at risk for many health complications including infection, organ damage, nerve damage, and skin conditions. Fruit might offer some protection against all of these complications.6

OUR ADVICE

Fruit should be included in diabetic diets for individuals that have well managed blood sugar values. Work with your doctor or dietitian to ensure that you are getting just the right amount of fruit in your diet and incorporating it correctly.

Related
Fruit Nutrition Database
Recipes with Lots of Fruits & Veggies

 

1 “Facts about diabetic retinopathy.” National Eye Institute. Last modified June 2012. View

2 “Diabetic retinopathy.” Mayo Clinic. Last modified March 27, 2012. View

3 “Antioxidants.” Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Accessed November 4, 2014. View

4 “Fiber.” Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Last modified April of 2012. View

5 Shiro Tanaka, et al. “Fruit intake and incident diabetic retinopathy with type 2 diabetes.” Epidemiology 24(2) (2013): 204-210, doi:10.1097/EDE.0b013e318281725e. View

6 “Type 2 diabetes: diabetic complications.” Mayo Clinic. Last modified June 24, 2014. View

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