New study shows how a healthy vegan diet can cut your risk of type 2 diabetes in half
This was the first study to distinguish not just between animal and plant-based diets but also between healthy and unhealthy plant-based diets. Healthy foods included wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, pulses, vegetable oils, tea and coffee; whilst unhealthy foods included animal products, fruit juices, sweetened beverages, refined grains (white bread, cornflakes etc.), potatoes, sweets and desserts.
The researchers followed more than 200,000 people for more than 20 years, evaluating their diets and health. The results revealed that predominantly plant-based diets were associated with a 20 per cent reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Eating a healthy plant-based diet was linked with an impressive 34 per cent lower risk but diets high in unhealthy, sugary plant-based foods actually increased the risk by 16 per cent.
People whose diets were almost entirely vegan and based on healthy foods had the lowest risk – as much as 50 per cent lower compared to the average diet. The researchers suggested that healthful plant-based diets could be reducing type 2 diabetes risk because they contain so many beneficial nutrients – fibre, antioxidants, unsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals – and contribute to healthy gut bacteria that promote overall health.
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Satija A et al., 2016. Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women: Results from Three Prospective Cohort Studies. PLoS Medicine. 13(6):e1002039.