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Leafy Vegetables Help Reduce Risk Of Diabetes

August 20, 2010

A study published on Friday by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) said that eating more spinach and other green leafy vegetables can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

The study steps into a controversial area, and the scientists say that more studies need to be performed to confirm the findings.

The team led by Patrice Carter at the University of Leicester, central England, reviewed six studies that involved 220,000 people that explored the link between fruit and vegetables consumption and Type 2 diabetes.

The scientists found that eating one and a half extra servings of green leafy vegetables reduced the risk of diabetes by 14 percent.  However, they also found that eating more fruit and vegetables combined had negligible impact.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and it has spread from rich countries to fast-developing economies as unhealthy lifestyles take hold.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 220 million people around the world are afflicted with the disease, which kills over one million people each year.  The WHO said that as obesity rates increase, the number of deaths could double between 2005 and 2020.

Nutrition and exercise are known factors to help prevent diabetes, but the foods that work best still remains disputed.

Carter’s team suggests that green leafy vegetables are useful because they are high in antioxidants and magnesium.

Chinese scientists performed a separate study that said a compound extracted from various Chinese herbs helped to reduce the impact of Type 2 diabetes in mice.

Emodin inhibits an enzyme called 11-Beta-HSD1, which plays a role in resistance to insulin.

The Chinese study, which was published on Wednesday in the British Journal of Pharmacology, said emodin can be extracted from Chinese rhubarb and Japanese knotweed.

“Researchers would need to develop chemicals that have similar effects as emodin, and see which if any of these could be used as a therapeutic drug,” Ying Leng of the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, told AFP news.

Diabetes is controlled by injections of insulin to try and maintain a proper blood-sugar level.  If the disease goes unchecked then it can lead to heart disease, vision loss, limb amputation and kidney failure.

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