- The prevalence of type 2 diabetes
among US South Asians is higher due to consumption of nutrient-deficient
- Diet of South Asians with type 2
diabetes lacked nutrients like dietary fiber, linoleic acid, vitamin A and
E, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and β-carotene.
- Dietary interventions are needed
to achieve healthy eating habits and reduce the
risk of diabetes.
South Asians who live in the US are at a
higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to poor dietary choices, finds a
study conducted at the UT Southwestern Medical Center.
According to the latest statistics from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, South Asian Americans are more
likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at an earlier age and a lower body
mass index (BMI) than Caucasians.
Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes among South Asians
More than four million South Asians from
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, live in the United States.
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes
among the South Asians is four
times higher when compared to the Caucasians. The risk increased by 8.1 percent
for men and 6.8 percent for women.
‘Diet of South Asians with type 2 diabetes lacked vital nutrients like dietary fiber, linoleic acid, vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and β-carotene.’
A research team led by Dr. Abhimanyu Garg,
Professor of Internal Medicine, recruited 77 US South Asians for the study.
Among the study population, 44 patients had diabetes, and 33 did not have
The participant's consumption of both
macronutrient and micronutrient were assessed using a three-day dietary recall
that included images of all the foods consumed. The research team found that
the diet of South Asians with type 2 diabetes was deficient in dietary
fiber, linoleic acid, vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, zinc,
potassium, and β-carotene.
They also found that participants with type 2
diabetes consumed fewer calories and less beneficial nutrients than healthy
The findings indicate that South Asians with
diabetes need to improve their dietary habits, said Dr. Garg, Chief of Internal
Medicine's Division of Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases and a senior member of
the Center for Human Nutrition.
"We recommend that South Asians with
Type 2 diabetes include in their diets more yellow and orange fruit and
vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds,
vegetable oils, fatty fish, and low-fat milk and dairy products. These
recommendations may also be helpful to improve their blood cholesterol and
levels," he added.
The findings of the study may also apply to
South Asians who live in other developed countries like the United Kingdom,
Europe, and Singapore. "Our findings may be less applicable to South
Asians living in their native countries because of the effect of acculturation
[assimilation] on dietary intake in South Asian migrants in the U.S. and
because of the economic disparity and its effect on food choices between the
two populations," said Dr. Meena Shah, Assistant Professor of Internal
The research team hopes to conduct further
studies that will compare and contrast the diets of healthy US-based South
Asians with those who have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.
"This study reveals the effects of diet
in these patients and how they can improve their diet to have better health
outcomes. But we also need to assess blood nutrient levels, daily energy
expenditures, stress levels, and other lifestyle behaviors to do a
comprehensive assessment of the factors that contribute to prediabetes or Type
2 diabetes among South Asians," said Dr. Garg, senior author of the study
in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.
Health Dietary Choices to Reduce the Risk of Type 2
- Whole Grains: Opt for whole grains and whole grain products, instead of highly processed carbohydrates. Swapping white rice
with whole-wheat bread and pasta, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, millets,
and oatmeal can help lower diabetes risk.
- Choose Healthy Fats: Good fats, such as the polyunsaturated
fats (PUFA) found in nuts, seeds, and vegetable oil can help
ward off type 2 diabetes. Avoid consumption of margarine, packaged baked
goods, fried foods.
- Skip Sweetened Beverages: Drinking sweetened beverages can increase the risk of diabetes
by 83 percent. Always opt for water, fresh juices, coffee and tea instead
of sugary drinks.
- Avoid Red Meat: Red meat like beef, pork, lamb and processed meat like bacon
and hot dogs can increase the risk of diabetes. Always opt for lean meat
or fish instead of red meat.
- Abhimanyu Garg, Beverley Adams-Huet, Chandna Vasandani, Meena Shah. "Comparison of nutrient intakes in South Asians with type 2 diabetes mellitus and controls living in the United States." Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, (2018) DOI: 10.1016/j.diabres.2018.01.016
- The Nutrition Source - (https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/disease-prevention/diabetes-prevention/preventing-diabetes-full-story/)