A new study suggests that a combination of a Mediterranean and a low-carb diet plan can protect against type 2 diabetes.
Researchers from the Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacological Research in Mila, Italy, found that a low carb diet that also follows the principles of the traditional Mediterranean diet – one that involves eating plenty of fish, seafood, fruit, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and olive oil – reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by around 20%.
For the study, the researchers examined patients from Greece who are part of an ongoing study into cancer and nutrition. A total of 22,295 participants were followed up for just over 11 years, in which time 2330 cases of type 2 diabetes were recorded.
Participants’ dietary habits were assessed using questionnaires and the researchers constructed a 10-point Mediterranean diet score and a similar scale to measure the level of carbohydrates consumed.
They found that people with a score higher than six had a 12% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those with scores of three or below.
However, participants who had a high Mediterranean diet score combined with low intake of carbohydrates were 20% less likely to develop the disease compared to those with a low score and high carbohydrate intake.
“The role of the Mediterranean diet in weight control is still controversial, and in most studies from Mediterranean countries the adherence to the Mediterranean diet was unrelated to overweight,” said Dr. Carlo La Vecchia, lead author of the study
“This suggests that the protection of the Mediterranean diet against diabetes is not through weight control, but through several dietary characteristics of the Mediterranean diet. However, this issue is difficult to address in cohort studies because of the lack of information on weight changes during follow-up that are rarely recorded.”
The findings were published online in the journal Diabetologia.

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