Traditional Mediterranean diet helps lower risk of diabetes

Fri, 15 Oct 2010
It has been reported that a traditional Mediterranean diet of olive oil and vegetables can help prevent the onset of diabetes . Researchers in Spain have found that the traditional Mediterranean diet, which is generally high in vegetables, fibre and grains, legumes, fish and plant-based sources of unsaturated fat such as olive oil and nuts, and is low in red meat and high-fat dairy, could help lower their risk of adult-onset diabetes in older people.

The study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, examined over 400 adults between the ages of 55 and 80 who had at least three risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure or smoking . It was found that those who followed a traditional diet were less likely to develop diabetes over four years than those instructed to follow a low-fat diet .

The patients were randomly assigned one of three diets, a Mediterranean diet with a focus on the consumption of olive oil, the same diet with a focus on unsaturated fats from nuts and, thirdly, a diet that cut out all types of fat. None of the patients had to limit their calorie intake or told to take more exercise .

At the end of the four-year period, 10 to 11 per cent of those in the two Mediterranean groups had developed diabetes, compared to 18 per cent in the group with the low-fat diet. Taking into account other risk factors, the Mediterranean diet was linked to a 52 per cent reduction in diabetes risk compared to the low-fat diet.

However, it was argued that these findings didn't mean you shouldn't exercise, or think of olive oil as a panacea. As Constance Brown-Riggs, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, said "Sometimes individuals can get hung up on one item, like olive oil. But what we're talking about here is an overall eating pattern, and an overall lifestyle."
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