(HealthDay News) — Plant-based dietary patterns seem to be beneficial for the primary prevention of type 2 diabetes, especially when the diets are enriched with healthful plant-based foods, according to a review published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Frank Qian, MPH, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues conducted a systematic review to examine observational studies that assessed the correlation between adherence to plant-based dietary patterns and incidence of type 2 diabetes among adults. Data were included from 9 studies, with 307,099 participants and 23,544 cases of incident type 2 diabetes.

The researchers identified a significant inverse association between higher adherence to a plant-based dietary pattern and risk for type 2 diabetes compared with poorer adherence (relative risk, 0.77). There was modest heterogeneity across the studies. Using the fixed effects model, the researchers found similar results (relative risk, 0.80), and the associations were consistent across predefined subgroups. When healthy plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts were included in the definition of plant-based patterns, the association was strengthened (relative risk, 0.70).

“Overall, these data highlighted the importance of adhering to plant-based diets to achieve or maintain good health, and people should choose fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, tofu, and other healthy plant foods as the cornerstone of such diets,” a coauthor said in a statement.

One author disclosed financial ties to the California Walnut Commissions; one author disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Reference

Qian F, Liu G, Hu FB, et al. Association Between Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. Published online July 22, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.2195