A Vegan Diet Might Help Prevent Diabetes

It's all about prevention—and adopting a low-fat, vegan diet might help prevent type 2 diabetes.

healthy vegan lunch bowl. Avocado, quinoa, tomato, cucumber, red cabbage, green peas and radish vegetables saladShutterstock/Anna Shepulova

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, it’s all about prevention. Unlike type 1 diabetes (which is an autoimmune condition), type 2 diabetes is largely influenced by diet and lifestyle choices. Looking at the statistics, it doesn’t seem like we’re doing the best job at preventing it—the number of people with the disease has risen from 108 million in the early 1980s to 422 million people just three decades later.

The good news for type 2 diabetes prevention

Switching to a low-fat, vegan diet (where you’d eat recipes like these) may reduce your diabetes risk. Doctors once believed that a high-sugar, high-carbohydrate diet caused the disease, but new studies suggest that diets high in saturated fat increase insulin resistance. Since animal-rich diets are notoriously high in saturated fat, more research has started to focus on the role that a vegan diet can help play in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

Earlier this year, a study published in the journal Nutrients honed in on fat’s contribution to diabetes. Half of the participants followed a low-fat, plant-based diet while the other half made no changes to their existing diet. After 16 weeks, they found significant improvements in the beta-cell function and insulin sensitivity of those following the vegan diet. These results suggest that low-fat, vegan diets might not only help reduce diabetes symptoms, but they may also aid its prevention, too.

Even more benefits

Combined with the findings of older studies, these recent results come together to create a solid link between following a low-fat, plant-based diet and managing (or preventing) type 2 diabetes. By eating and cooking whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds and omitting (or greatly reducing) animal-based products, including these non-vegan surprises, study participants are seeing improved blood sugar control. More than that, they’re experiencing benefits like reduced body weight, improved cardiovascular health, and increased fiber and nutrient intake.

I can already hear your objection—meat is delicious and I’ll always be starving on a vegan diet! You might be surprised to learn that plant-based recipes are not only flavorful, but they’re also rich in fiber and can be high in protein, so they’ll keep you feeling full (just like meat).

Try These Vegan Recipes Even Meat Eaters Will Love
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Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.