A healthy plant-based diet can significantly lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Plant-based diets mainly considered as “vegetarian” diet have shown to improve the health outcomes, including lowering the Type 2 Diabetes. Vegetarian diet also includes less healthy plant foods, such as sweetened foods and beverages, but note that they are detrimental to health. It is important to understand that increasing healthy plant foods and gradually reducing animal foods can cut down the diabetes risk.
The researchers surveyed 200,000 health professionals for more than two decades in the recent study published online in the journal PLOS Medicine and funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Senior study author Professor Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard Chan School said, “A shift to a Vegan-based diet higher in healthy plant based foods including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in animal based foods, especially red and processed meats, can confer substantial health benefits in reducing risk of type 2 diabetes.”
These high-quality plant foods are linked to substantially lower risk of developing T2D, since the diet is rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, and micro nutrients, and is low in saturated fats. When researchers used the diet index, the plant based foods that are healthy earned the positive scores, while the animal foods and less healthy plant foods (sweet beverages, refined grains) received the negative scores.
The healthy plant-rich diet which includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts, and low animals foods was linked to 34 percent reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, the less healthy plant based diet which includes more refined and processed foods and sugary drinks was associated with 16% increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Also, slight reduction in animal-based foods (from 5-6 servings to 4 servings per day) has been found to reduced risk of Diabetes.
Study author Ambika Satija, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Nutrition said, “This study highlights that even moderate dietary changes in the direction of a healthful plant-based diet can play a significant role in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.”