Health

An apple a day could help keep the diabetes away

March 21, 2012, 2:45 p.m.

Apples and other fruits rich in anthocyanins may reduce a person's risk of diabetes. (Credit: Doug Wheller/Flickr Creative Commons)


Reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes may be as simple as eating more apples, blueberries and pears, a new study has found.

A report by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that "a higher consumption of anthocyanins and anthocyanin-rich fruit was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes." Anthocyanins are pigments that are nearly odorless and flavorless that may appear red, purple or blue, and can be found in fruits like apples, blueberries, pears, certain kinds of grapes and peaches and cherries.

Nutritionist Leslie Beck wrote that people in the study who ate a higher amount of blueberries or apples were found to be 23 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. More than 200,000 people were evaluated by the research team for up to 24 years, and none had diabetes at the beginning of the study.

The findings could be good news for South Los Angeles. In late 2010, the L.A. County Department of Public Health released a report that said between 1997 and 2007, the rate of adults in the county with diabetes rose from 6.6 percent to 9.1 percent. And when the numbers were broken down further to more closely reflect the southside's demographics, things got worse.

For example, Latinos and blacks, who account for all but 5.3 percent of South L.A.'s population, both had diabetes rates (12.8 percent of Latinos and 11.4 percent of blacks) at least twice that of whites (5.7 percent) in 2007. Socioeconomically speaking, 14.7 of those living below the poverty line in 2007 had diabetes.

The report also listed the diabetes rates for all the county's service planning areas for the years 1997, 1999, 2002, 2005 and 2007. South L.A.'s planning area had the highest rate of adult diabetes in the county for every one of those years.

The bad news is that South L.A. doesn't have all that much access to fruit – or produce in general. Central Avenue's farmers market is one of southside Angelenos' only options, and one of the vendors there told OnCentral that most of the other produce available in the area is "junk."

"The food options in South L.A. – there's not a lot of selection," said Laura Gonzales earlier in March. She runs that farmers market.

Unless you include fast food – of which there is plenty in the area (71.8 percent of area eateries, to be precise) and which, despite a growing list of healthy menu options, can still compound a person's risk for diabetes.

Photo by Doug Wheller via Flickr Creative Commons.

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