Diabetes, The Bigger Concern: Glucose Levels or Heart Disease

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People with diabetes are concerned about blood glucose levels. However, a bigger concern is heart health. Heart disease, not diabetes, remains the leading cause of premature death in the U.S. Fortunately, the same whole food, high fiber, plant-based diet you’ve learned about through the Plant-Based Nutrition Support Group is very effective at lowering cholesterol and reducing this risk factor for heart disease.


Vegetarian, especially vegan, diets reduce cholesterol levels, according to a review and meta-analysis authored by Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine researchers and published in Nutrition Reviews. Researchers reviewed 49 observational and intervention studies that compared vegetarian and vegan diets with omnivorous diets and their effects on plasma lipids. Vegetarian diets lowered total cholesterol levels as well as LDL and HDL levels when compared to omnivorous diets. The greatest benefit on lipid levels was seen in those who followed vegan diets.


Plant-based diets typically reduce body weight and saturated fat intake, which may benefit cholesterol management. These findings support previous associations of decreased cholesterol levels and vegetarian, especially vegan, diets.



Yokoyama Y, Levin SM, Barnard ND. Association between plant-based diets and plasma lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Rev. Published online August 21, 2017.


Caroline Trapp, DNP, ANP-BC, CDE, FAANP

Director of Diabetes Education and Care

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

5100 Wisconsin Ave., NW. Suite 400

Washington, D.C. 20016

202-527-7349 (Direct)

Jim BallaComment