January 23, 2018
Homemade Autumn Apple Walnut Spinach Salad

Plant-Based Diet for Diabetes

by Berkeley Wellness  

Following a plant-based diet may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially if you choose more healthful plant foods. So suggested a recent study in PLOS Medicine, which followed 200,000 health professionals in the U.S. for nearly three decades. Using data collected every two to four years, the Harvard researchers ranked diets on three different scales:

  • An overall plant-based diet index, with higher scores given to those who consumed more plant-based foods and fewer animal foods.
  • A healthful plant-based diet index, with higher scores given to those who consumed higher amounts of healthful plant foods (whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, vegetable oils).
  • An unhealthful plant-based diet index, with higher scores given to those who ate higher amounts of less-healthful plant foods (such as fruit juices, refined grains, sweets, sweetened drinks).

High scores on the overall plant-based diet were associated with a 20 percent decreased risk of diabetes, with the healthier plant-based diet showing a 34 percent reduction. In contrast, an unhealthful plant-based diet was associated with a 16 percent increased diabetes risk.

Further analysis found that eating just one or two fewer servings of animal foods daily reduced diabetes risk “substantially,” but that yogurt and seafood, in particular, had little or no effect on risk, suggesting that some animal foods are better than others in a diabetes-friendly diet.

It’s not new news that plant-based diets help reduce diabetes risk—previous studies have found benefits, for example, of the plant-based Mediterranean diet. Such diets are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that help control blood sugar.

Also see 5 Foods that Help Fight Diabetes.