London: Eating green leafy vegetables could help cut the risk of Type 2 diabetes, a new research suggests.
The study, led by Patrice Carter at the University of Leicester, say there is a need for further investigation into the potential benefits of green leafy vegetables.
In the last two decades there has been a dramatic increase in the number of individuals developing type 2 diabetes worldwide.
Diets high in fruit and vegetables are known to help reduce both cancer and heart disease, but the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and diabetes remains unclear, say the authors.
The researchers also note that previous research found that in 2002, 86pc of UK adults consumed less than the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, with 62pc consuming less than three portions.
The study says "it was estimated that inadequate consumption of fruit and vegetables could have accounted for 2.6 million deaths worldwide in the year 2000."
Patrice Carter and colleagues reviewed six studies involving over 220,000 participants that focused on the links between fruit and vegetable consumption and type 2 diabetes.
The results reveal that eating one and a half extra servings of green leafy vegetables a day reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14pc.
However, eating more fruit and vegetables combined does not significantly affect this risk. Only a small number of studies were included in the meta-analysis and the benefit of fruit and vegetables as a whole for prevention of type 2 diabetes may have been obscured.
The authors believe that fruit and vegetables can prevent chronic diseases because of their antioxidant content. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach may also act to reduce type 2 diabetes risk due to their high magnesium content.
The authors argue "our results support the evidence that ``foods`` rather than isolated components such as antioxidants are beneficial for health … results from several supplement trials have produced disappointing results for prevention of disease."
The study has been published on bmj.com.