Scientists from the University of Toronto found that both low-carb vegan diets and vegetarian diets could benefit people with type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes, is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high.
Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes mainly from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose get into your cells to be used for energy.
In type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Too much glucose then stays in your blood, and not enough reaches your cells.
Managing your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and quitting smoking if you smoke, are important ways to manage your type 2 diabetes.
Lifestyle changes that include planning healthy meals, limiting calories if you are overweight, and being physically active are also part of managing your diabetes.
Low-carbohydrate, high animal fat, and protein diets have been promoted for weight loss and diabetes treatment.
In the current study, researchers tested the effect of a low-carbohydrate vegan diet on diabetes as a potentially healthier and more sustainable low-carbohydrate option.
They compared the effectiveness of a low-carb vegan diet with a moderate-carb vegetarian diet on weight loss and metabolic measures in people with type 2 diabetes.
The team tested 164 people with type 2 diabetes, who were assigned to advise on either a low-carb vegan diet, high in canola oil and plant proteins or a vegetarian therapeutic diet, for three months.
Both diets were recommended at 60% of calorie requirements.
The team measured body weight, fasting blood, blood pressure, and seven-day food records to estimate potential greenhouse gas emissions.
They found that both low-carb vegan and vegetarian diets similarly but markedly reduced body weight, blood sugar, systolic blood pressure, and potential greenhouse gas emissions.
But only for potential greenhouse gas emissions was there a strong difference favoring the low-carb vegan diet.
The researchers suggest that low-carb vegan and vegetarian diets could reduce body weight, and improve blood sugar control and blood pressure, but the vegan diet has a greater potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The research was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and conducted by David Jenkins et al.
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