Mediterranean Diet Lowers Diabetes Risk

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Following the traditional Mediterranean diet can lower diabetes risk even if a person doesn’t lose weight, restrict calories, or exercise, report researchers in Spain including the University of Barcelona. Men and women without diabetes (3,541 people, ages 55- to 80-years-old) at risk for heart disease were assigned to one of three groups: 1) a Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive oil (about 3 tablespoons a day), 2) a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts (1 ounce a day), or 3) a low-fat diet. They did not receive any special information on losing weight or increasing their physical activity. After four years, the olive oil group had reduced their diabetes risk by about 40% compared to the low-fat diet, while the group that included nuts in their diet reduced their diabetes risk by 18%. 

The Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia summarized the current dietary recommendations to lower diabetes risk, including: maintain a healthy body weight, engage in daily physical activity, and choose a diet that is low-carbohydrate, low-fat, low-glycemic index, or a Mediterranean diet. 

Researchers at Simmons College in Boston report that adherence to a Mediterranean-like diet lowers all-cause mortality in people with heart disease. 

The Mediterranean diet also improves cognitive function associated with aging, state researchers at the St. Louis University School of Medicine. 

In Perspective: The results of the Spanish study add further credence to the benefits of following a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish, besides olive oil and nuts. People should not take these results as an excuse not to exercise or lose weight, since maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in daily exercise would further reduce disease risk. 

Salas-Salvado J, Bullo M, Estruch R, et al: Prevention of diabetes with Mediterranean Diets. Annals of Internal Medicine 2014;160:1-10.

Vetter M, Amaro A, Volger S: Nutritional management of type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity and pharmacologic therapies to facilitate weight loss. Postgraduate Medicine 2014;126:139-152.

Lopez-Garcia E, Rodriquez-Artalejo F, Li T, et al: The Mediterranean-style dietary pattern and mortality among men and women with cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2014;99:172-180.

Morley J: Cognition and nutrition. Current Opinions in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care 2014;17:1-4.

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