Eating two daily servings of whole fruit lowers risk of diabetes by 36% compared to eating less than half a serving per day, according to a study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Researchers reviewed data from 7,675 people in the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute’s Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study. Participants provided information on their consumptions of fruit and fruit juice using a food frequency questionnaire. The review showed that those who ate more whole fruit lowered their risk of having type 2 diabetes five years later. Fruit lowers risk of diabetes due to an association between fruit intake and markers of insulin sensitivity: those who ate more fruit needed to produce less insulin to lower their blood glucose levels.

Researchers emphasize that high insulin levels in the blood not only impact diabetes development, but can also damage blood vessels and relate to high blood pressure, obesity and heart disease. Given that roughly 463 million adults worldwide were living with diabetes in 2019 and this number is expected to increase to 700 million by 2045, mitigating diabetes risk is a significant public health concern.

Study authors note that the same benefits of fruit did not apply when consuming fruit juice. They suggest that a healthy lifestyle and diet that includes whole fruits may play a meaningful role in lowering diabetes risk.

See also: 5 Ways to Eat to Beat Diabetes