Whole food approach for type 2 diabetes prevention

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016 Aug;60(8):1819-36. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201500963. Epub 2016 Jun 14.


Diet is intimately associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Recently, attention has focused on the contributions of individual nutrients, food groups and eating patterns to the outcome of T2D. High consumption of coffee, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nuts are each independently associated with the reduced risk of T2D in high risk, glucose intolerant individuals. Experimental and clinical trials have given insight to the diverse mechanisms that may be responsible for the observed protective effects of certain foods on T2D, including nutrients, phytochemicals and dietary fiber, weight control, enhanced satiety and improvement in glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in diabetic patients. Elevated consumption of refined grains and sugar-sweetened beverages has shown to significantly elevate the risk of incident T2D. An overall healthy diet primarily comprising whole plant-based foods, together with regular physical activity and weight manage, could significantly reduce the risk of T2D. The present review consolidates current research and delineates major food groups shown to significantly influence risk of T2D. Documenting and quantifying the effects of diet on the outcome of T2D are of great scientific and public health importance as there is urgent need to implement dietary strategies to prevent and manage the outcome of T2D.

Keywords: Coffee; Diabetics; Fruits and vegetables; Phytochemicals; Whole grains.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Coffee / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Edible Grain / metabolism
  • Food*
  • Fruit / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Vegetables / metabolism


  • Coffee
  • Dietary Fiber