The old adage of eating an apple a day to keep the doctor away could actually be partially true, researchers have said.

Two newly published research papers have found that eating a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 50 per cent.

The first study looked at blood levels of vitamin C and carotenoids, which is a plant pigment that gives fruit and vegetables their bright colour, to measure the person’s intake of fresh food.

Just under 10,000 people with type 2 diabetes and more than 13,000 people without the condition took part in the study.

The researchers found those who ate the most fruit and vegetables had up to a 50 per cent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to people who ate very little fresh food.

The international trial was led by Professor Nita Forouhi from the University of Cambridge.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, she said: “Though the benefits of fruit/veg consumption have been promoted for decades in the “five-a-day” message, in the past there has been uncertainty about their role for the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

“Our study, using objective blood markers of fruit/veg intake shows that even a small increase in the amount of fruit/veg in the diet can help to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.”

The second study was carried out in America and focussed on whole grain intake and the association it might have with the risk of type 2 diabetes. More than 158,000 females and more than 36,525 men took part in the research.

A high intake of grains was found to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 29 per cent, when compared to those who hardly ate any.

The research team from the Harvard School of Public Health said the link between a high intake of whole grains and the reduced diabetes risk was “stronger in individuals who were lean than in those who were overweight or obese”.

Both research papers have been published in the British Medical Journal.

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