Although it is a difficult diet to follow faithfully, veganism has many health benefits. Not only are animal products avoided (meat, fish, poultry), but animal byproducts, such as honey and milk, are also not consumed. A recent study provides evidence that a vegan diet can help sufferers of type 2 diabetes. The study sought to investigate whether a low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factor.
Ninety-nine individuals with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to either a low-fat vegan diet or a diet following the American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines. The ADA suggests eating a wide variety of foods including vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nonfat dairy products, beans, and lean meats, poultry and fish. Forty-three percent of the vegan group and 26 percent of the ADA group reduced diabetes medications. Body weight decreased 14.3 pounds in the vegan group and 6.83 pounds in the ADA group. LDL cholesterol fell 21.2 percent in the vegan group and 10.7 percent in the ADA group for individuals continued taking their lipid-lowering medications.
The researchers concluded that both a low-fat vegan diet and a diet based on ADA guidelines improved glycemic and lipid control in type 2 diabetic patients, but that these improvements were greater with a low-fat vegan diet.
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Barnard, N, Cohen J, Jenkins D, et al. A low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in a randomized clinical trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2006;29:1777-1783.