Vegan diet high in foods like nuts, coffee may reduce diabetes risk

  • Plant-based diets high in whole grains, nuts, coffee, and vegetables are linked to a lower risk of diabetes.
  • Nutrients called polyphenols help explain why certain plant foods are so healthy, according to new research.
  • In contrast, processed plant-based foods like juices and refined grains do not have the same benefits.

There is even more evidence that a plant-based diet has major health benefits, especially when it comes to a healthy metabolism and stable blood sugar levels.

A plant-based diet rich in specific nutrients called polyphenols can help ward off type 2


according to a study published on April 8 in Diabetologythe journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

Researchers from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health looked at data from 10,684 participants, mostly middle-aged white healthcare professionals. The data the researchers focused on was metabolites, chemical compounds that are created when the human body breaks down food into energy, which can vary depending on the type of diet a person has. By comparing metabolites and health outcomes over the course of the study, the researchers were able to see which eating habits were associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes.

Specifically, people who ate diets high in plant-based foods like whole grains, vegetables, nuts, coffee, and legumes were less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than their peers who ate more foods. of animal origin or processed foods.

The findings are supported by a wealth of previous evidence suggesting that vegan and vegetarian diets are good for us, according to Dr. Frank Hu, the study’s lead author and chair of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition.

“The results are not surprising given that the health benefits of healthy plant-based foods have been well documented,” Hu told Insider.

Understanding the link between specific compounds and plant foods could help better determine which diets are the healthiest for preventing certain diseases like diabetes, he said.

Foods like grains, beans, vegetables, nuts, and coffee are rich in beneficial nutrients called polyphenols

Not all plant-based diets in the study were equally beneficial. Diets high in more processed plant-based foods like refined grains, fruit juices, potatoes and sweets were not linked to a lower risk of diabetes, the researchers found.

Based on metabolite data, the results suggest that specific nutrients in whole plant foods called polyphenols may explain the health benefits of certain plant-based diets.

Foods associated with the healthy plant-based diet in the study include whole grains, vegetables, nuts and legumes, and coffee, all of which are rich sources of polyphenols.

Coffee, for example, is high in trigonelline, a compound linked to improved insulin sensitivity in some research. Another compound linked to the consumption of coffee, as well as whole grains and fruits, is called hippureand it has been linked to more stable blood sugar levels.

Ultimately, further study of metabolites like hippurate and trigonellin could help experts understand how different plant-based diets influence disease risk and how certain diets may help prevent diabetes, Hu said. For now, the evidence suggests that your best bet for health is to eat plenty of unprocessed plants and cut back on processed foods and added sugars, even if they’re technically plant-based.

“When adopting a plant-based diet, we recommend consumers choose healthy plant foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts,” he said. declared. “Limit unhealthy plant foods, such as refined grains like white bread and pizza and high glycemic index foods like candy and sugary drinks.”