A Low-Fat Vegan Diet Improves Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in a Randomized Clinical Trial in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes

  1. Neal D. Barnard, MD12,
  2. Joshua Cohen, MD1,
  3. David J.A. Jenkins, MD, PHD3,
  4. Gabrielle Turner-McGrievy, MS, RD4,
  5. Lise Gloede, RD, CDE5,
  6. Brent Jaster, MD2,
  7. Kim Seidl, MS, RD2,
  8. Amber A. Green, RD2 and
  9. Stanley Talpers, MD1
  1. 1Department of Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC
  2. 2Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Washington, DC
  3. 3Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, and the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Center, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Canada
  4. 4Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  5. 5Private practice, Arlington, Virginia
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Neal D. Barnard, MD, 5100 Wisconsin Ave., Suite 400, Washington, DC 20016. E-mail: nbarnard{at}


OBJECTIVE—We sought to investigate whether a low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—Individuals with type 2 diabetes (n = 99) were randomly assigned to a low-fat vegan diet (n = 49) or a diet following the American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines (n = 50). Participants were evaluated at baseline and 22 weeks.

RESULTS—Forty-three percent (21 of 49) of the vegan group and 26% (13 of 50) of the ADA group participants reduced diabetes medications. Including all participants, HbA1c (A1C) decreased 0.96 percentage points in the vegan group and 0.56 points in the ADA group (P = 0.089). Excluding those who changed medications, A1C fell 1.23 points in the vegan group compared with 0.38 points in the ADA group (P = 0.01). Body weight decreased 6.5 kg in the vegan group and 3.1 kg in the ADA group (P < 0.001). Body weight change correlated with A1C change (r = 0.51, n = 57, P < 0.0001). Among those who did not change lipid-lowering medications, LDL cholesterol fell 21.2% in the vegan group and 10.7% in the ADA group (P = 0.02). After adjustment for baseline values, urinary albumin reductions were greater in the vegan group (15.9 mg/24h) than in the ADA group (10.9 mg/24 h) (P = 0.013).

CONCLUSIONS—Both a low-fat vegan diet and a diet based on ADA guidelines improved glycemic and lipid control in type 2 diabetic patients. These improvements were greater with a low-fat vegan diet.


  • A table elsewhere in this issue shows conventional and Système International (SI) units and conversion factors for many substances.

    Clinical trial reg. no. NCT00276939,

    The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked “ advertisement” in accordance with 18 U.S.C Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

    • Accepted May 15, 2006.
    • Received March 20, 2006.
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