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NOT ALL PL ANT"BA SED FOODS PROVIDE EQUAL BENEFIT IN TERMS OF REDUCING RISK OF DIABE TES, A NE W HARVARD STUDY FINDS. to Lowering Type 2 Diabetes Risk BY BRITTAIN WHITESIDEGALLOWAY RE SE A RCHER S A SSE SSED THE link between plant-based dieta r y patterns a nd lower risk of Ty pe 2 diabetes. A tea m led by A mbika Satija , ScD, postdoctora l fellow in Nutrition at Ha r va rd T.H. Cha n School of Public Hea lth, a nd Fra nk Hu, MD, Ph D, Professor of Medicine at Ha r va rd Medica l School a nd Professor of Nutrition at the School of P ublic Hea lth, a na lyzed data from three prospective cohor t studies that followed more tha n 200,000 U.S. hea lth professiona ls for more tha n two decades. Published in PLOS Medicine, the study found that eating a predominantly plant-based diet reduced the risk of developing Ty pe 2 diabetes by roughly 20 percent. Consuming a version of this diet focused on hea lthful pla nt foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, leg umes a nd whole g ra ins was linked to a 34 percent lower risk of Ty pe 2 diabetes. However, a pla nt- based diet high in foods such as potatoes, ref ined gra ins, a nd suga r-sweetened beverages a nd fruit juices was linked to a 16 percent g reater risk. The study adds def inition to scientists' understa nding of food choices that may stave off diabetes a nd helps redirect that conversation, according to the resea rchers. "[Because] not a l l pla nt-ba sed foods a re created equa l, when we ta lk about a pla nt-based diet, we should put more empha sis on hig h-qua lit y or hea lt hy pla nt-ba sed foods," Dr. Hu adds. QUANTIFYING BENEFITS Reducing diabetes risk signifi cantly did not require a radical dietary overhaul. "It's important to emphasize we're not talking about drastic changes in people's diets," Dr. Hu says. " We're not ta lking about becoming vegetarian or vegan — we're talking about moderate changes." Participants reduced but did not eliminate meat from their diets, Satija notes. On average, participants who loosely adhered to a plant-based diet had fi ve to six servings of animal-based foods per day; stricter adherents had about four servings per day. "Though the di• erence between daily servings wasn't much, the di• erence in reduction of Type 2 diabetes risk between the two groups was substantial," Satija says. "You don't have to make extreme changes to see a substantial reduction in risk of Type 2 diabetes." A DISTINCTION As with plant foods, not all animal-based foods carry equal potential for greater risk of Type 2 diabetes. "Fish and seafood, for example, are healthy sources of protein that are not linked to increased risk of diabetes, ... unlike red and processed meats," says Christine McKinney, RD, CDE, clinical nutritionist and diabetes specialist with Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, who was not involved in the study. ■ Refining Diet-based Approaches Nine out of 10 A Gathering Storm Approximately 86 MILLION AMERICAN ADULTS have prediabetes, according to the CDC. Nine out of 10 of those do not realize they have the condition. SPECIAL CLINICAL SECTION: MEN'S HEALTH M D N E W S .C O M /// M D N E W S C E N T R A L O H I O S P E C I A L E D I T I O N ■ W I N T E R 2 016 / 2 017 0 7

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