Healthy Plant-Based Diets Tied to Lower Diabetes Risk
A systematic review and meta-analysis published recently in JAMA Internal Medicine found that diets rich in healthful plant-based foods may be beneficial for lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The researchers defined a “plant-based diet” as one which emphasizes foods derived from plant sources with low or no intake of animal products. The nine observational studies reviewed included a total of more than 307,000 participants. Higher adherence to a plant-based diet was associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, in comparison with poorer adherence. The association was stronger when healthy plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, were emphasized in the diet, as opposed to refined grains, starches (like white potatoes), or sugars (like sweets, desserts, and soda). A diet rich in healthy plant foods provides fiber, vitamins, minerals, phenolic compounds, and unsaturated fatty acids, and has been associated with maintaining a healthy body weight—all important factors in lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Such a dietary pattern also limits red and processed meats, which are linked to higher risk of type 2 diabetes.