Meat-free diet could cut diabetes risk for black people in the US

A black couple unpack vegetable shoppingAfrican-Americans could significantly reduce their risk of developing diabetes if they limited the amount of meat they ate or cut it out of their diets entirely.

A new report from Loma Linda University in California has revealed that adopting a vegetarian diet could help protect a population that is twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to develop the disease.

Published in last month’s online edition of Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, the report says African-Americans who are vegetarian could cut their risk by 53 per cent, and vegans by 70 per cent.

“These findings are encouraging for preventing type-2 diabetes in the black population, which is more susceptible to the disease than other populations,” said study leader Dr Serena Tonstad.

The report – which reviewed data taken from a study of 7,172 black Seventh Day Adventist (who are vegetarian, teetotal and non-smokers on religious grounds) – also found that exercising three or more times a week decreases the risk of diabetes by 35 per cent.

Tonstad and her team also analysed data from a further 34,215 white Seventh Day Adventists, and found further indication that a meat-free diet was linked to a lower risk of diabetes.

Fruit and vegetables are high in fibre, while whole grains and beans slow the rate at which the body absorbs carbohydrates, both known factors in reducing the risk of diabetes.

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