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Vegetarian Diet for Prediabetes and Diabetes

Vegetarian Diet for Prediabetes

Prediabetes requires more consistent dietary changes because it’s the intermediate stage where you can still turn back towards a healthy body.

Eating a well-balanced vegetarian diet can be beneficial for prediabetes because it supplies ample amounts of fiber and beneficial nutrients.

People who focus on plant-based proteins have better blood sugars, lower body weights, better heart health, and even a lower risk of certain cancers, which is likely due to increased fiber intake

There are different types of a vegetarian diets but a generally vegetarian diet is one in which animal protein foods are replaced with plant proteins

A healthy vegan diet may help you manage your blood sugar better if you have diabetes. A vegan diet may control your glucose levels better than other diabetes diets, according to research.

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Health Benefits of a Vegetarian diet for prediabetes

The advantages vary among the different types of vegetarian diets but all have the same effects eventually. Some health benefits of a vegetarian diet for prediabetes are:

  • Encourages a healthy weight.

Weight loss is a very important component of prediabetes management and vegetarian diets typically have fewer calories than non-vegetarian diets. This can help with weight loss.

People who follow a vegetarian diet also have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than those who follow other diets.

A healthy body weight can help you control your blood sugar and lower your risk of diabetes complications.

  • Improves insulin response and blood sugar control.

A vegetarian diet is rich in fiber that greatly helps in blood sugar control by increasing satiety this can improve blood sugar control and make your body more responsive to insulin.

However, even a vegetarian diet can be harmful to blood sugar if it is high in simple carbohydrates, particularly starches like potatoes, pasta, white rice, and white bread.

  • Reduces your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.

A strict vegan diet is free of cholesterol, low in saturated fat, and high in soluble fiber.

A low-fat vegetarian diet can lower your chances of developing cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Diabetes is frequently associated with cardiovascular disease.

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Scientific evidence about the effect of vegetarian diets on prediabetes

Although multiple food groups appear to influence diabetes risk, we do not typically consume single food items or food groups, and the role of diet in health may be better described by overall dietary patterns.

A vegetarian diet has been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, which suggests that it is good to avoid the prediabetic stage and it can also help in its management.

A large population-based study suggests that a diet higher in plant-based foods lowers the risk of prediabetes.

The study suggests that plant-based dietary patterns such as vegan and vegetarian diets have a protective role against diabetes development and insulin resistance as compared to animal-based foods or diets. [Ref]

Another study suggests that plant-based diets high in fiber, potassium, and unsaturated fatty acids and low in saturated fatty acids, cholesterol, and sodium are beneficial and reduce the expression of risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These dietary patterns include the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, a low-carbohydrate diet, and a vegan-vegetarian diet. [Ref]

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What to Eat on a Vegetarian diet

On a vegetarian diet, you can possibly eat anything plant-based. But this isn’t true if you have prediabetes. If you are prediabetic you need to shortlist some foods to keep your blood sugar level maintained.

For example, you need to skip bad carbs, high GI goods, processed and refined food products, and so on.

Here are some foods good for prediabetes that you can have on a vegetarian diet.


Being a vegetarian doesn’t mean you load up on processed and refined stuff. The first step towards better glycemic control is eating more vegetables, especially non-starchy vegetables.

Non-starchy veggies provide a higher amount of fiber as compared to starchy vegetables and they have a low glycemic index.

Some vegetables that must be included in the vegetarian diet for prediabetes are:

  • Beet greens
  • Bell peppers
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Lettuce
  • Green onions
  • Turnip greens
  • Radish
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Artichokes
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Vegetable proteins

You might not be aware of the hidden protein that is present in plant-based foods.

Good sources of protein include:

  • Nuts and nut bitters
  • Seeds (sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds)
  • Soy products like tofu, tempeh, etc.
  • Whey protein
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Legumes

But as a prediabetic, you must be cautious of your beans and lentil intake because although rich in fiber and protein, these foods are carbohydrates and can result in an increase in glucose levels.

Healthy fats

Eating healthy fats is beneficial for optimal health because the body needs fats, especially essential fats for proper functioning.

Some good fat sources on a vegetarian diet include the following

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Skip High GI foods

Two ways that can ultimately put vegetarians at an even higher risk of prediabetes include:

  • Eating too many carbs in a single meal
  • Consuming high GI goods

So, to be on the safe side, you need to focus on the portion size and carb content of your meals.

Some high-GI foods include:

  • Potatoes
  • White bread
  • Noodles
  • Pasta
  • Fruit juices
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Possible risks

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, a healthy vegan diet is safe. Plant-based foods indeed contain fewer nutrients than animal products.

However, a vegan diet can provide your body with everything it requires but some nutrients should be present in adequate amounts otherwise deficiency can occur.

  • Protein:

There are plenty of plant-based protein sources but if not taken in adequate amounts, vegetarians can suffer from protein deficiency and tissue catabolism.

The average daily protein requirement ranges from 45-55 g/day. This goal can be achieved by eating a variety of legumes, nuts, and seeds throughout the day.

  • Vitamin D and calcium:

Vitamin D and calcium deficiency are also common among vegetarians. This can be managed by consuming plant-based milk that is vitamin and mineral fortified. Aim for two servings per day.

  • B12 vitamin:

This is the primary vitamin that vegans must supplement. This is because it is mostly found in animal-protein foods such as meat etc. and most plant foods lack it.

Nutritional yeast and fermented foods like tempeh are good sources for vegetarians.

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What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

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