Plant-based Diet for Prevention and Management of Type 2 Diabetes

  • 3 Minutes Read

Interested in preventing or treating type 2 diabetes? Find out why it is best to grab that apple instead of the beef jerky.

Plant-based Diet for Prevention and Management of Type 2 Diabetes

What is a plant-based diet and how does it impact diabetes?

First, before reading on, take a moment to think about the term "plant-based diet". What comes to mind? OK, so did you think about a vegan diet, vegetarian diet or perhaps a plate of food filled mainly with vegetables, fruits, grains and just a small amount of chicken or fish? Well, actually, they all fit. There are many variations of a plant-based diet, and there is no single definition of it.

In 2015, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (1) determined that "a healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat, and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks, and refined grains." The Committee also stated that "these dietary patterns can be achieved in many ways and should be tailored to the individual's biological and medical needs as well as socio-cultural preferences." In my mind, this could be a plant-based diet because it emphasizes the plant-based foods (above in bold).

In the research world, plant-based diets are vegetarian. The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (2) categorizes these diets as:

Diet choices are thought to be a key player in insulin resistance (when insulin does not effectively carry sugar out of the blood). Here is a small sample of research in favor of a plant-based diet for diabetes prevention and management.

How can you use this information on plant-based eating to help prevent or treat type 2 diabetes?

Resources for Vegetarian Eating

MyNetDiary blog posts on vegetarian eating
The Vegetarian Resource Group
Tips for Vegetarians:
Vegetarian Nutrition Information


  1. Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee
  2. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets
  3. Tonstad S, Stewart K, Oda K, Batech M, Herring RP, Fraser GE. Vegetarian diets and incidence of diabetes in the Adventist Health Study-2. Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases: NMCD. 2013;23(4):292-299. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2011.07.004.
  4. Satija A , Bhupathiraju SN, Rimm EB , et al. Plant-based dietary patterns and incidence of type 2 diabetes in US men and women: results from three prospective cohort studies. PLoS Med 016;13:e1002039. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002039
  5. Barnard ND, Cohen J, Jenkins DJ, et al. A low-fat vegan diet and a conventional diabetes diet in the treatment of type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled, 74-wk clinical trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009;89(5):1588S-1596S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736H.
  6. McMacken M, Shah S. A plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. Journal of Geriatric Cardiology: JGC. 2017;14(5):342-354. doi:10.11909/j.issn.1671-5411.2017.05.009.

Diabetes->Health Diabetes->Preventing Diabetes Meal Planning & Diets->Vegetarian
Mar 20, 2018
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

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