Vegetarian Diets in the Prevention and Management of Diabetes and Its Complications

Diabetes Spectr. 2017 May;30(2):82-88. doi: 10.2337/ds16-0057.


IN BRIEF Epidemiological studies have found a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes among vegetarians compared to nonvegetarians. This reduced risk is likely a function of improved weight status, higher intake of dietary fiber, and the absence of animal protein and heme iron in the diet. Interventional studies have shown that vegetarian diets, especially a vegan diet, are effective tools in glycemic control and that these diets control plasma glucose to a greater level than do control diets, including diets traditionally recommended for patients with diabetes (e.g., diets based on carbohydrate counting). Vegetarian diets are associated with improvement in secondary outcomes such as weight reduction, serum lipid profile, and blood pressure. Studies indicate that vegetarian diets can be universally used in type 2 diabetes prevention and as tools to improve blood glucose management.