Will vegetable prescriptions for Latinos with type 2 diabetes improve health? The “Farming for Life” team at Sansum Diabetes Research Institute created a pilot study to answer this question.

More about vegetable prescriptions for health

In the United States today, diabetes is more common in the Latino population than in non-Latinos. The American Diabetes Association tells us that one of the greatest challenges for people with diabetes is deciding what to eat. We know that eating a diet high in plant foods can improve health for people with diabetes. For low-income populations with type 2 diabetes, access to these healthy foods can oftentimes be a problem.

Sansum Diabetes Research Institute created a program called Farming for Life. Farming for Life researchers conducted a study to test whether prescribing organic vegetables to Latino individuals with type 2 diabetes would in fact improve their health. The most common vegetables prescribed included carrots, zucchini, beets, cilantro, and cabbage. The study lasted a total of 12 weeks, and organic vegetables were provided weekly at no cost to participants. Because of the evidence that links pesticides and type 2 diabetes risk, the team chose to use organic vegetables because they have more antioxidants and less pesticides.

Researchers measured weight, waist size, blood pressure, and HbA1c before and after participants received vegetables. After 12 weeks, participants’ blood pressure decreased. Also, 14 participants lost weight (average was 1.9 pounds). The waist size decreased in 9 participants by an average of 1.5 inches. However, HbA1c level stayed the same.

In conclusion, medical prescriptions of organic vegetables may have health benefits for Latinos with type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, this study did not teach health lessons to participants. Rather, they just prescribed vegetables. This shows the benefit of increasing access to vegetables without other educational interventions.

See our resource page for more information about Latinos and Diabetes

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Photo courtesy of  Mil Familias © 2018