When it comes to lowering your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, eating whole fruit -- and not the juice form -- could do you some good, according to a new study.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found an association between eating at least two servings of fruit a week and having a 23 percent lower risk of diabetes, compared with eating less than a serving of fruit a month. Blueberries, grapes and apples seemed to be especially linked with the reduced diabetes risk.
Meanwhile, people who drank one serving or more of juice a day had up to a 21 percent higher risk of diabetes.
"Our data further endorse current recommendations on increasing whole fruits, but not fruit juice, as a measure for diabetes prevention," study researcher Isao Muraki, a research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard, said in a statement. "And our novel findings may help refine this recommendation to facilitate diabetes prevention."
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, is based on data from 187,382 people who were part of the Nurses' Health Study, Nurses' Health Study II, and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. They were tracked between 1984 and 2008, a period during which 6.5 percent (or 12,198 people) developed Type 2 diabetes.
Researchers analyzed the study participants' consumption of fruit, as well as fruit juices. The kinds of fruit analyzed included apples and pears, prunes, apricots and peaches, grapes and raisins, bananas, oranges, blueberries, strawberries and grapefruit. The kinds of fruit juice analyzed included apple, grapefruit, orange, and "other" types of fruit juice.
They found that the biggest whole fruit consumers in the study had the lowest risk of developing diabetes over the study period, while the daily juice-drinkers had a higher risk of developing the condition. However, they also found that if people swapped out three servings juice for whole fruits a week, they could lower their diabetes risk 7 percent.
The researchers did not find a reason for why fruits seemed to protect against diabetes, though they noted that particular fruits -- such as blueberries and grapes -- have high levels of the flavonoids anthocyanins (that give the fruits their hue), which have antioxidant effects.
For more things that could affect your risk of diabetes, click through the slideshow: