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Plant-Based Eating May Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

June 11, 2019

New research presented at Nutrition 2019 suggests that adopting plant-centered diets may play a key role in helping prevent type 2 diabetes, which currently affects 30.3 million people in the United States.1,2

These findings emerged from an analysis of 2717 participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) cohort, which currently has 30 years of available follow-up data.

In the present analysis, participants were a mean age of 25 years at baseline and did not have diabetes through year 20 of the CARDIA Study. Follow-up for incident type 2 diabetes was conducted through year 30. Dietary intake through year 20 was also assessed via interviews that took 46 food groups into account.

Ultimately, the authors of the study found that participants with the greatest increase in diet quality over 20 years – as measured by the A Priori Diet Quality Score (APDQS) – had a 60% lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared with a small decrease in diet quality (hazard ratio 0.40). Furthermore, each increase of 10 points on APDQS scores over 20 years was associated with a 23% decrease in type 2 diabetes risk.

Generally, better APDQS scores are largely attributable to increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, and plant-derived fats and proteins, including:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Vegetable oils
  • Avocados
  • Legumes
  • Soy

In addition to embracing plant-centered eating patterns, weight loss and adequate levels of physical activity can also help prevent type 2 diabetes.3

—Christina Vogt


1. Choi Y, Jacobs Jr. D, Hirahatake K, et al. Life course change towards a plant-centered diet and incidence of type 2 diabetes: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study. Paper presented at: Nutrition 2019; June 8-11, 2019; Baltimore, MD.

2. National diabetes statistics report. Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Page last reviewed February 24, 2018. Accessed June 10, 2019.

3. Preventing type 2 diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Page last reviewed November 2016. Accessed June 10, 2019.

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