A review published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that plant-based diets can help lower a person’s risk of Type 2 diabetes by as much as 23 percent. This result was associated not only with vegetarian and vegan diets, but also with more lenient eating patterns that allow the consumption of small amounts of animal-based foods.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three Americans have prediabetes — a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as Type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that about 84 percent of people with prediabetes are not aware that they have the condition.
Lower risk of diabetes
For their study, the researchers examined the effect of plant-based diets on Type 2 diabetes risk by looking at the results of nine trials involving more than 307,000 participants.
The participants were aged 36 to 65 years, with a mean body mass index (BMI) of 23 to 26.7 kg/m2. Some of the participants were of normal weight, while the others were overweight. They reported their food intake by answering a Food Frequency Questionnaire. The researchers defined a plant-based diet as any eating pattern that includes more plant-based foods than animal-based foods.
During the intervention, a total of 23,544 participants developed Type 2 diabetes. The researchers looked into the participants’ diets and the factors that may have contributed to the development of the disease.
They found that plant-based diets can lower Type 2 diabetes risk by 23 percent, regardless of whether the participant lost weight or not. However, the researchers noted that if weight loss was taken into account, the risk reduction could be greater.
“We essentially removed the benefits through weight control from the estimated reduction of diabetes risk for eating plant-based diets,” said study author Qi Sun of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (Related: How can a plant-based diet help diabetics? Study explains.)
According to Dr. Mladen Golubic, the medical director of the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, there are two important takeaways from the study: Eat more plant-based foods and make sure those foods are unrefined or unprocessed. Golubic was not involved in the study.
Tips for a greener diet
Despite the health benefits of plant-based diets, some people may find eating more plant-based foods difficult. But there are plenty of ways to make your diet greener. Here are some tips:
- Change your perception of meat – Instead of treating meat as a meal’s centerpiece, use it as a garnish.
- Choose good fats – Unsaturated fats are healthy fats. Opt for foods rich in these fats, such as sunflower oil, olive oil and nuts.
- Cook a vegetarian meal at least once a week – A great vegetarian meal can include beans, vegetables and whole grains.
- Add whole grains to breakfast meals – Start with oatmeal, quinoa, barley or buckwheat and add nuts or seeds along with fresh fruits.
- Choose greens – Leafy greens like kale, collards, Swiss chard and spinach are nutrient-dense foods. Try adding more of them to your meals.
- Build a meal out of a salad – A salad can be a meal in itself. Fill a bowl with leafy greens, such as romaine lettuce and spinach or try red leafy greens. Adding fruits, nuts, seeds and other vegetable varieties can enhance the taste of your salad.
- Eat fruit for dessert – Fruits are tasty and sweet, which makes them good and healthy substitutes for sugary foods.
Eating vegetables does not have to be a chore. There are simple steps you can take to add more plant-based foods to your diet and enjoy every meal.
Looking for great recipes that include different vegetables? Visit NaturalNewsRecipes.com.