A new meta-analysis suggests that a serving or two of spinach or lettuce a day may help keep type 2 Diabetes away. Patrice Carter, a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester in England and colleagues looked at  3,446 previously published studies. Four of the studies specifically examined intake of green leafy vegetables – a trend was seen toward reduced diabetes risk. The researchers standardized the definition of a serving as 106 grams, or 3.73 ounces. In defining green leafy vegetables, the studies included kale, lettuce, and spinach. Carter also mentioned broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and herbs including parsley, dill and fennel as green vegetables. Green leafy vegetables in particular, and fruit and vegetables in general may help prevent chronic disease because of their antioxidant content. The researchers added that “green leafy vegetables also contain polyphenols, which are known for their antioxidant properties.”

In an accompanying editorial, Jim Mann, PhD, of the University of Otago in New Zealand and Dag-finn Aune, BSc. of Imperial College in London emphasized the importance of diet: “Although some studies have shown associations between individual vegetables and fruits and coronary heart disease, stroke and some cancers… most current recommendations focus on food groups as a whole rather than magic bullets. And, they added, “The findings are also a useful reminder to clinicians that giving dietary advice may be just as beneficial, if not more so, than prescribing drugs to patients at risk of chronic disease.”               www.tuftshealthletter.com     5/14/13

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