LOS ANGELES - Plant-based diets could help lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal.
In a new meta-analysis from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. researchers found that people with predominantly plant-based dietary patterns had a 23 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. The study also found that the association was stronger for those whose diets emphasized healthy plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
While previous studies have hinted that plant-based dietary patterns may help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, there has been a significant lack in epidemiological evidence for this association.
According to the researchers, the latest study provides the most systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies to properly assess the association between plant-based dietary patterns and the risk of type 2 diabetes. The report reviewed nine previously published studies on plant-based eating habits and Type 2 diabetes among adults. The meta-analysis looked at health data from 23,544 cases of Type 2 diabetes.
The researchers analyzed adherence to a predominantly plant-based diet, which could include a mix of healthy plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts, but also less healthy plant-based foods such as potatoes, white flour and sugar.
The results showed that a higher adherence to a plant-based diet was associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, consistent across all age groups and despite a person's body mass index.
According to the researchers, one explanation for the association between predominantly plant-based diets and reduced Type 2 diabetes risk is that healthy plant-based foods have been shown to have beneficial health impacts.
"Clinical trials and observational studies have shown that these foods individually and jointly improve insulin sensitivity and blood pressure, reduce long-term weight gain, and ameliorate systemic inflammation, pathways involved in the cause of Type 2 diabetes," the study reported.