Taiwanese Vegetarians and Omnivores: Dietary Composition, Prevalence of Diabetes and IFG


The diabetes epidemic in Asia and particularly in China emerged simultaneously with increased meat consumption and higher proportion of energy intake from animal protein and fat [1]. Compared with Westerners, Asians tend to incur diabetes at a younger age and at a lower body mass index (BMI), possibly due to genetic susceptibility in combination with environmental exposures [2]. Vegetarian diets have been associated with a lower prevalence [3] and incidence [4] of diabetes among Seventh day Adventists. Previous clinical trials have shown vegetarian diets improve glycemic control [5] and insulin sensitivity [6]. Although several small studies reported lower glucose level and better insulin sensitivity in Taiwanese vegetarians than omnivores [7][9], no study thus far has examined whether a vegetarian diet protects against diabetes in Chinese ethnic Asian population, a high risk population that may incur diabetes despite having a normal BMI value [2]. Moreover, Asian diets tend to be lower in meat and higher in plant foods compared with Western diet. It remains unknown whether a diet completely avoiding meat and fish would further extend the protective effect of a plant-based diet. In addition, most studies on Asian vegetarians tend to compare vegetarians from religious groups with omnivores from the general population [7]. Religious and spiritual practices (a main determinant of vegetarian dietary practice in Asia) may be associated with social and emotional support which may confound health outcomes [10], [11].


We found a strong protective association between Taiwanese vegetarian diet and diabetes/IFG, after controlling for various potential confounders and risk factors.

The full study report can be found here.



Type of vegetarian diet, obesity and diabetes in adult Indian population

…vegetarianism in India is associated with unique characteristics. It is usually a lifelong pattern and adherence crosses multiple generations; it generally comprises high consumption of whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and dairy with spices and seasonings unique to the Indian diet. Hence, the combination/or the pattern of vegetarian diet may yield different findings than similar studies conducted in the West and it is thus possible to assess dietary associations with chronic diseases which have been difficult in the West due to low frequency. This study uses data from the third National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3, 2005–06), a survey of 109,041 Indian households which collected information on a wide range of dietary, societal, lifestyle, and environmental determinants of morbidity and chronic ailments including diabetes [16]. The NFHS-3 provides a unique opportunity to examine associations between types of vegetarian diet and diabetes and obesity in a large, nationally representative sample.

In this large, nationally representative sample of Indian adults, lacto-, lacto-ovo and semi-vegetarian diets were associated with a lower likelihood of diabetes. These findings may assist in the development of interventions to address the growing burden of overweight/obesity and diabetes in Indian population. However, prospective studies with better measures of dietary intake and clinical measures of diabetes are needed to clarify this relationship.

Interesting study with limitations as noted by the researchers.  Go here for the full study report.

Vegan Diet Rapidly Improves Type 2 Diabetes Markers in Adults

The 16-week randomized controlled trial in 73 adults showed that participants who ate a diet of vegetables, grains, legumes, and fruits significantly improved their overall metabolic condition, say Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, DC, and colleagues.

Small RCT study.  Source article here.

Heavy Drinking ‘Strongest’ Modifiable Risk Factor for Dementia

The retrospective analysis involving 30 million people in France shows that those with a history of alcohol use disorders had a threefold increased risk for dementia and that over half those with early-onset dementia had a history of alcohol problems. “This study used a phenomenally large database, and the result showing that half the cases of early-onset dementia were associated with alcohol use disorders is truly staggering,” Ballard told Medscape Medical News.

The researchers used diagnostic codes on hospital records to identify patients with dementia and those who had a history of alcohol use disorders. They found over a million cases of dementia, after excluding people with diseases that can lead to rare types of dementia and those with early-life mental disorders that can increase or confound dementia diagnosis. There were also 945,000 people with alcohol use disorders.

Results showed a strong association between a history of alcohol problems and dementia. This was especially noticeable in early-onset dementia, with 57% of the 57,000 patients who had developed dementia under the age of 65 years having a history of alcohol use disorders (66% of men and 37% of women).

In an analysis of just those patients in whom the first record of dementia occurred in 2011-2013 and adjusted for other risk factors found in the medical records, the risk for dementia was three times greater if the patient had a history of alcohol use disorders. The hazard ratio was 3.36 for men and 3.34 for women.

Read the Medscape article here.  Or get down and dirty with the full study here.

Be careful with interpreting these results.

France.  I’m not joking.  Here’s  a Global Consumption Map.



Vitamin D and Mortality Risk in People With CVD

Summary:     A normal intake of vitamin D can reduce the risk of early death substantially in people with cardiovascular disease, a new study shows. The study concludes that people who have suffered from cardiovascular disease, and have a normal intake of vitamin D, reduce their risk of morality as a consequence of the disease by 30 per cent.

Source article can be found here.

The World’s Healthiest Cuisines: What Five Countries Can Teach Us about Good Eating

“We’ve Americanized dishes to the extent that they don’t have their original health benefits,” says Dr. Daphne Miller, a family physician in the San Francisco Bay area and author of The Jungle Effect: The Healthiest Diets from Around the World—Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You.

When leaving the Y after a less than strenuous workout I did something I rarely do.  I picked up one of those advertiser supported magazines off one of many racks.  I’m glad I did because the latest issue of Natural Awakenings contained this article.  I found their website and read the article online because the print copy was not in

Large Print.

Eat More Hummus

The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus
Taylor C. Wallace 1,*, Robert Murray 2 and Kathleen M. Zelman 3
1. Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
2. Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
3. Atlanta Nutrition Communications, Atlanta, GA 30062, USACorrespondence: Tel.: +1-270-839-1776
Received: 18 August 2016 / Accepted: 22 November 2016 / Published: 29 November 2016


The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advocate for increasing vegetable intake and replacing energy-dense foods with those that are nutrient-dense. Most Americans do not eat enough vegetables, and particularly legumes, each day, despite their well-established benefits for health. Traditional hummus is a nutrient-dense dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices. Consumers of chickpeas and/or hummus have been shown to have higher nutrient intakes of dietary fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and iron as compared to non-consumers. Hummus consumers have also been shown to have higher Healthy Eating Index 2005 (HEI-2005) scores. This may be, in part, due to hummus’ higher Naturally Nutrient Rich (NNR) score as compared to other dips and spreads. Emerging research suggests that chickpeas and hummus may play a beneficial role in weight management and glucose and insulin regulation, as well as have a positive impact on some markers of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Raw or cooked chickpeas and hummus also contain dietary bioactives such as phytic acid, sterols, tannins, carotenoids, and other polyphenols such as isoflavones, whose benefits may extend beyond basic nutrition requirements of humans. With chickpeas as its primary ingredient, hummus—and especially when paired with vegetables and/or whole grains—is a nutritious way for Americans to obtain their recommended servings of legumes. This manuscript reviews the nutritional value and health benefits of chickpeas and hummus and explores how these foods may help improve the nutrient profiles of meals.

Health Outcomes Associated with Consumption of Chickpeas and Hummus

Traditional hummus contains a unique combination of chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices that may provide additional benefits beyond satisfying nutrient requirements. While the scientific literature is emerging, several studies support hummus/chickpea consumption in relation to weight control, glucose, and insulin response, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and/or GI health.
 This is not a bad overview despite the study’s funding source.

Conflicts of Interest

The funding sponsors had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; or in the decision to publish the results. R.M. and K.M.Z. are on the Scientific Advisory Board of Sabra Dipping Co., LLC.