Recent research out of the UK suggests that eating a diet with a high variety of fruits and vegetables might lower the risk of diabetes by as much as 40 percent. The researchers followed more than 3,700 adults in the UK with a diet journal to compare their fruit and vegetable intake. Of participants on the lower end of the scale, at about two servings per day – which is about the same as the average American’s fruit and vegetable consumption — 21 percent were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. That compares to 16 percent in people with the highest consumption of about six servings per day.
What is probably the most interesting about this study is that it wasn’t just the number of servings that affected the rates of diabetes; it was also the number of different types of fruits and vegetables being eaten every week:
“People who averaged 16 different types of fruit and vegetables per week were about 40 percent less likely to develop diabetes than people who averaged eight types.”
So when they say “variety is the spice of life,” they also mean that variety is the key to health, it would seem.
I think this really coincides well with the way we used to eat – fruits and vegetables in season, instead of whatever can be shipped from across the world to fit on our supermarket shelves. I know in our family, we can stand to make some improvement. If you asked my kids, they would probably both say that fruit means apples and bananas, when they should be exposed to a wider variety of foods that can be locally produced.
While there are some fruits and vegetables that must be very limited on a low carb diet, there are many more that are low carb/low GI that can be eaten almost freely. There are 15 vegetables that score 15 on the Glycemic Index. Top picks, such as celery, broccoli, cauliflower and summer squash are great snacks that can help you get a variety of vegetables in your diet. For fruits, cherries, grapefruit and dried apricots are all low GI. Try a fruit bowl in cream for a sweet afternoon snack or a dessert, or have a half cup of sliced strawberries as part of a low carb breakfast.
This research clearly shows that we need to diversify our eating plan to include a wider variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. It makes good common sense, too.