Updated: Jul 24, 2019
Following a plant-based diet may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 23%, researchers have said.
The association was made following a study review by researchers at the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
The US review also suggested that emphasising vegetable intake and minimising intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and refined carbohydrates reduced type 2 diabetes risk by 30%.
"I would describe these risk reductions as being quite significant," said senior author Dr. Qi Sun. "Plant-based diets can promote metabolic health and reduce diabetes risk through many pathways, including preventing excess weight gain, improving insulin sensitivity, reducing inflammation, and other mechanisms."
Eating a healthy, real-food diet has been shown to have a variety of benefits for people either at risk of type 2 diabetes or with existing type 2. Last year, the one-year outcomes of Diabetes Digital Media's Low Carb Program reported that eating low carb foods led to one in four users experiencing type 2 diabetes remission.
The Harvard team looked at nine published studies that revolved around a plant-based, vegan diet and involved more than 23,500 cases of type 2 diabetes among more than 300,000 people.
The combined findings from all the research papers found an association between eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. This was the same across all ages and body weight.
It should be noted that whole grain and legumes often contain higher amounts of carbohydrate. While they contain lots of healthy fibre, the fibre derived from these foods can be attained from non-starchy vegetables such as spinach and kale, components of a plant-based diet.
The findings emphasise that it is the quality of the plant-based products that are being consumed. Dr Sun added: "It does matter what veggies people eat and how the veggies are processed. Therefore, consuming healthy plant foods that are not or minimally processed, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains, should be emphasised."