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Plant Protein Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Major new Harvard School of Public Health study published in American Journal of Epidemiology shows consuming peanuts and peanut butter reduces Type 2 diabetes risk.

Powerful Plant Protein

Harvard researchers investigated over 20 years of data that followed over 200,000 people in the United States. Research centered on the relationship between plant and animal protein consumption and Type 2 diabetes risk. Investigators found:

Study participants who ate high levels of plant protein reduced their risk of Type 2 diabetes by 9%

In contrast, those participants with higher animal protein diets increased their risk of Type 2 diabetes by 13% (see graph below)

In the study, “whole grains and peanuts and peanut butter were the most commonly consumed major food sources of vegetable protein” (p. 9-10)

Healthy Substitutions Lead to Major Health Benefits in the Future

Substitution of 5% of energy from plant protein (legumes, peanuts, peanut butter, other nuts and whole grains) was made for an equal amount of total carbohydrate, refined carbohydrate, or animal protein. These substitutions resulted in a 19-23% reduced risk of diabetes:

Plant Protein Substitution For:


Total carbohydrate 22% lower risk of diabetes
Refined grains and sugar 19% lower risk
Animal protein 23% lower risk


Substituting peanuts and peanut butter for animal protein, refined grains or potatoes resulted in 7-21% reduced diabetes risk.

Substituting peanuts and peanut butter for processed meat resulted in the largest diabetes risk reduction (21%).

Peanuts and Peanut Butter are Healthy Food Choices for Type 2 Diabetes

Prevention Guidelines for preventing diabetes include maintaining an appropriate body weight, being physically active, and making healthy food choices.

Peanuts contain not only plant protein (in fact, they are higher in protein than other nuts), but they also contain fiber and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Protein, fiber and fat are important foods for maintaining satiety and supporting normal blood sugar levels; critical factors in weight management and preventing diabetes.

This study provides evidence that peanuts and peanut butter are healthy food choices and when substituted for meats and refined carbohydrates in the diet, can lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes.


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