Even a small reduction in the intake of animal protein can have a positive impact on lowering type 2 diabetes risk.

Reduce animal protein to lower type 2 diabetes risk

Vegetarian Burrito

A recently released study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health confirms another benefit to a more plant-based diet: it can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes – the chronic disease that affects almost 30 million Americans. Approximately 200,000 men and women were followed for more than 20 years to assess their lifestyle habits, including food choices, and health issues as they aged.

It is known that losing weight and adding a daily walk can reduce diabetes risk, but actual food choices can be helpful too, according to these Harvard researchers.

In those folks who ate less animal protein (fish, poultry and red meat), there was a lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes. If mostly plant foods with very few refined carbohydrate foods comprised the diet, there was a 34 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Even if the diet was somewhat healthy, with less animal protein but some refined carbohydrates, researchers saw a 16 percent lower risk for heart disease.

The other interesting piece from this study to note is that even a small reduction in the intake of animal protein – in other words, NOT going completely vegetarian – still had a positive impact on lowering type 2 diabetes risk. It does not have to be all or nothing, so that is great news for those who want to slowly move in the direction of plant-based meals but not jump in with both feet.

Breakfast: Whole-grain hot and cold cereals with seasonal fruit; peanut butter on whole-grain toast or English muffin with seasonal fruit

Lunch: Almond butter sandwich; large veggie salad with pecans; hummus and grated carrots on whole-grain flour tortilla

Dinner: Begin to whittle down the amount of meat served to each person and fill up the plate with more whole-grains such as brown rice or barley, fruits, sweet and white potatoes and vegetables