A vegan diet may enhance weight loss and blood sugar control in people with Type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests. Photo by Derrick Brutel/Flickr
May 5 (UPI) -- Overweight adults with Type 2 diabetes who eat a vegan diet for 12 weeks may see healthy weight loss and improved blood sugar control, according to an analysis of previously published studies presented Thursday.
Based on data from 11 studies involving nearly 800 people ages 48 to 61, participants who adhered to a vegan diet for at least 12 weeks lost 11 pounds or more, the data, presented Thursday during the European Congress on Obesity in Maastricht, Netherlands, showed.
However, vegan diets that are rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and seeds, with no animal-derived foods such as beef, chicken or fish, did not affect blood pressure or triglycerides, or cholesterol levels, compared with other diets, the researchers said.
"Adhering to a vegan diet for at least 12 weeks may result in clinically meaningful weight loss and improve blood sugar levels," Anne-Ditte Termannsen, a study co-author, said in a press release.
"Therefore, [they] can be used in the management of [people who are] overweight and [have] Type 2 diabetes," said Termannsen, a doctoral student at the Steno Diabetes Center in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The findings are based on a review of data from 11 English-language studies comparing the effects of vegan diets to other types of diets on cardiometabolic risk factors such as body weight, blood sugar levels, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and total cholesterol, the researchers said.
Vegan diets were compared with participants' normal diets, as well as the Mediterranean diet, various diabetes diets and portion-controlled diets.
After at least 12 weeks, participants on vegan diets lost, on average, 5 more pounds than those on other diets, though drops in blood sugar and total cholesterol were smaller, at less than 1%, the data showed.
The vegan diets the studies included varied substantially by carbohydrate, protein and fat content, and none of the studies prescribed a control diet that exactly matched the intervention diet in all other aspects except veganism, the researchers said.
Previous studies have shown that vegan diets boost insulin production in people with diabetes.
"Vegan diets likely lead to weight loss because they are associated with a reduced calorie intake due to a lower content of fat and higher content of dietary fiber," Termannsen said.
"However, more evidence is needed regarding other cardiometabolic outcomes," she said.