Med Diet May Help Prevent Diabetes – Study Suggests

A study out this month suggests older people who eat a Mediterranean-style diet may face a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Moreover, the participants may not have to fret over counting calories or losing pounds, the study in  Diabetes Care indicates.

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“Mediterranean diets without calorie restriction appear to be effective in the prevention of diabetes in subjects at high cardiovascular risk,” the Spanish-led study concludes. It adds that the lower diabetes risk “occurred in the absence of significant changes in body weight or physical activity.”

The researchers say they found older people who ate a traditional Mediterranean diet — rich in nuts, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and olive oil — were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes after four years versus participants who stuck to a low-fat food regimen.

Separately, however, experts say the results don’t negate the importance of regular exercise.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It can trigger heart, eye, kidney, and other health problems.

The researchers — headed by Jordi Salas-Salvadó of Spain’s University of Rovira i Virgili — tracked 418 Spanish adults aged 55 to 80 over four years.  The subjects went into the study without diabetes. But they faced risk factors such as being overweight, smoking, and high blood pressure.

“At the outset, the men and women were randomly assigned to follow one of three diets: a traditional Mediterranean diet with added emphasis on boosting consumption of olive oil, a rich source of monounsaturated fat; the same diet, with a focus on getting polyunsaturated fats from nuts; or a low-fat diet that encouraged cutting down on all types of fat,” Reuters reports.

In addition, the olive oil group was given a free liter of olive oil a week while the nut group was given enough free nuts to eat 30 grams a day. None of the participants received exercise advice.

Researchers found that over the next four years 10% to 11% of the Mediterranean diet group developed diabetes versus 18% in the low-fat group.

“When the researchers accounted for a number of other factors  — such as participants’ weight, smoking history and reported exercise levels — the Mediterranean diet itself was linked to 52% reduction in diabetes risk compared with the low-fat diet,” Reuters said.

Claude S. Weiller
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