Plant-based diets can have a host of positive health effects in people with type 2 diabetes, according to a new review published in the journal Clinical Nutrition.
More than 100 million Americans currently have diabetes or prediabetes - and those with the condition are two to four times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who do not have diabetes.
The study, which assessed the effectiveness of vegan and vegetarian diets for diabetes patients, concluded that ditching animal products can lead to improved glycemic control, weight loss, and lowered cholesterol levels - all cardiometabolic risk factors.
The study's authors reviewed nine randomized controlled trials that assessed the effectiveness of vegan and vegetarian diets for diabetes patients.
The results showed that those who ate a plant-based diet lowered their cholesterol, lost weight, lowered HbA1c levels, and improved other cardiometabolic risk factors when compared to those who ate a non-vegetarian diet.
Study co-author Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Clinical Research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, said: "The link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease is strong. 60 to 70 percent of people who have type 2 diabetes die of heart disease.
"The good news is that this study shows that the same simple prescription - eating a plant-based diet - can reduce our risk for heart problems and improve type 2 diabetes at the same time."
The study authors add that that plant-based diets, which center on fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, can benefit both glycemic control and cardiovascular health, because they are low in saturated fat, rich in phytochemicals, high in fiber, and often rich in low-glycemic fruits and vegetables.