Here’s another reason to add more veggies to your diet: new research touts the benefits of green leafy vegetables for lowering the risk of type-2 diabetes. Researchers performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of six studies involving over 223,000 adults. Based on the pooled data of all studies, the researchers found that each increase of 1.15 servings of green leafy vegetables per day was linked with a 14% reduction in the incidence of type-2 diabetes.
Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, which are thought to help prevent inflammation that may play a role in the development diabetes. Green leafy vegetables in particular may be especially helpful due to their magnesium and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid content.
The studies differed in the classification of green leafy vegetables. For example, spinach, kale, and lettuce were included in two studies, whereas Chinese greens, greens and spinach were included in another study. Other vegetables that some categorize in the green leafy category, such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and the herbs dill, parsley, and fennel were not included in any of the studies. More research is needed, therefore, to determine the beneficial intake levels of which specific vegetables are the healthiest.
Additionally, some studies looked at fruit and vegetable intakes combined, while others looked at these intakes separately. Four of the six studies included data on green leafy vegetable intakes, specifically. Only two studies that were reviewed and determined to be eligible for the meta-analysis included men, meaning that the vast majority of study participants were female.
While green leafy vegetables got a big nod of approval from the researchers, the meta-analysis did not point to a similarly significant reduction in risk with increased overall intake of fruits or vegetables, or with the intake of fruits and vegetables combined. Even so, the data did support some benefits of increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables in general. These findings could pave the way for more research to clarify the benefits of fruits and vegetables against chronic diseases.
Diabetes is a growing problem in the United States, so load up on the greens.