Eat fruit, avoid diabetes

You might eat an orange, but I doubt you'd ever sit down and eat five or six in a row -- yet that's exactly what you do when you drink a tall glass of OJ: You drink the equivalent of five or six oranges.

And if you pour yourself a second glass, you're drinking enough oranges to open your own farm stand.

That's why it's always better to eat a piece of fruit than to drink fruit juice, because even 100 percent all-natural juice contains more fruit per glass than you'd ever eat.

More fruit means more calories and more sugar -- and when they come in liquid form, they pass more quickly through your stomach and cause bigger spikes in blood sugar.

So it's no surprise to me at all that new research confirms that people who eat fruit have a lower risk of diabetes, while people who drink fruit juice have a higher risk of the disease.

The best fruit for beating diabetes -- and one of the best fruits for your overall health, period -- is the humble blueberry. Eat just three servings of these antioxidant-rich little gems a week, and your diabetes risk will plunge by more than a quarter, according to the study in BMJ.

It's not the only fruit that can help fight disease. Grapes and raisins will cut your risk by 12 percent, while prunes will reduce it by 11 percent, according to the study.

On the other hand, drinking fruit juice will increase your diabetes risk by 8 percent.

But don't worry... if you have a juice habit right now, the study also shows it's not too late to turn it around. Swap that juice for fruit -- any fruit at all -- and your 8 percent increase in risk will become a 7 percent drop.

Not bad... but you can do even better if you replace your juice with the blueberries I just mentioned. That one little change to your diet can cut your diabetes risk by a third.

Trade your juice for grapes and raisins, and your disease risk will fall by 19 percent, with a 14 percent dip for apples and pears, 13 percent for bananas and 12 percent for grapefruit.

But why pick just one? Whole fruits are both delicious and healthy -- so eat plenty of them, ideally local in-season organic fruits.

Just remember that the real key to avoiding diabetes isn't a matter of "eat this, not that."

It's about your entire lifestyle -- a lifestyle of healthy food and drink choices and regular exercise. And if you can make that lifestyle yours, your diabetes risk will drop to nearly zero.

I'm not done with the benefits of fruit just yet. Keep reading!