(CBS DETROIT/CNN) — Sticking to a plant-based diet could help lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, a new paper suggests.

That link between plant-based eating habits and type 2 diabetes is even more beneficial when only healthy plant-based foods — such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts — are included in your daily diet, as opposed to refined grains, starches and sugars, according to the study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday.

“We found that eating plant-based diets was associated with, on average, 23% reduction in diabetes risk,” said Dr. Qi Sun, an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston and senior author of the paper.

Doctors have long known that a healthy diet — along with regular exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight and not smoking — are among the ways to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

More than 30 million people in the United States, or about 1 in 10, have diabetes and up to 95% of them have type 2 diabetes, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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