Plant-based diets tied to 23% lower diabetes risk


 Plant-based diets tied to 23% lower diabetes risk


An extensive meta-analysis provides comprehensive evidence that consistently following a healthful, plant-based diet could help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

One of the main risk factors for type 2 diabetes is diet. In recent years, many studies have suggesed that vegan, vegetarian, or other plant-based diets could significantly reduce diabetes risk. Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have conducted a review and meta-analysis of nine studies of the association between diet and the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

In their analysis, the researchers first looked at how a predominantly plant-based diet of any kind related to diabetes risk - in this scenario, "predominantly plant-based" could mean a diet that centred on both healthful plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes, and less healthful ones such as potatoes and sugars. These diets could also include some products of animal origin. Then, the researchers assessed the association between diabetes risk and healthful plant-based diets that featured, primarily, a high amount of healthful fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts.



Results of the studies showed that participants who adhered more strictly to plant-based diets had a 23% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who less strictly adhered to these dietary patterns. However, researchers added that the association with lower risk of type 2 diabetes was even stronger in the case of participants who adhered to strictly healthful plant-based diets.

The team noted that healthful plant-based foods can improve both insulin sensitivity and blood pressure, each of which plays a role in the development of diabetes. Moreover, plant-based diets can prevent or reduce weight gain and reduce low grade inflammation, which also contribute to a person's risk of diabetes.

"Overall, these data highlighted the importance of adhering to plant-based diets to achieve or maintain good health, and people should choose fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, tofu, and other health[ful] plant foods as the cornerstone of such diets." - Senior author Dr. Qi Sun


While the current research only received grants from national research funding bodies (the National Institutes of Health), some of the authors involved in the review have disclosed potential conflicts of interest.

Thus, one co-author reported receiving individual research support from the California Walnut Commission, as well as honoraria from Metagenics and Standard Process, two companies that produce dietary supplements. Dr. Sun has reported receiving consultancy fees from Emavant Solutions GmbH, a healthcare facilities company.


Qian, F., Liu, G., Hu, F., Bhupathiraju, S. and Sun, Q. (2019). Association Between Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. JAMA Internal Medicine.

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