What are the benefits of a vegetarian diet for people with diabetes?

Laura Russell
Nutrition & Dietetics

Make sure if you decide to follow a vegetarian diet that the basis of your diet is vegetables and plant based foods. Many people just cut out meat and replace this with more carbs form breads, cereal, chips, crackers, french fries. This will likely not help with diabetes. Choose whole grains that also provide fiber and protein such as quinoa, lentils, beans, brown rice, flax, chia, etc. The focus of the meal should be on vegetables, so plan ahead to have an adequate supply ready for meals. Use fruits for snacks and choose low fat milk and yogurt for additional protein and nutrition at meals or for snacks. 

A vegetarian diet is a healthy option, even if you have diabetes. Research supports that following this type of diet can help prevent and manage diabetes. In fact, research on vegan diets has found that carb and calorie restrictions were not necessary and still promoted weight loss and lowered participants' A1C.

Vegetarian diets are naturally higher in fiber, much lower in saturated fat, and cholesterol-free when compared to a traditional American diet. The high fiber in this diet may help you feel full for a longer time after eating and may help you eat less over all. When fiber intake is greater than 50 grams per day on a vegan diet, it may help lower blood glucose levels.

This diet also tends to cost less. Meat, poultry, and fish are usually the most expensive foods we eat.

Continue Learning about Diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.