Mediterranean Diet Helps Prevent Diabetes

Originally written: May 2008
Updated April 2018

A diet based heavily on olive oil, fruits, fish, grains, nuts, and vegetables, and low in meat and dairy products, has been shown to be very beneficial in protecting against type 2 diabetes. This is known as a typical “Mediterranean diet.”

People adhering to this Mediterranean diet are known from past research to be at a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, but this most study here is the first to show the diets effectiveness in preventing diabetes. Mediterranean diets “include a high intake of fiber and vegetable fat, a low intake of trans fatty acids, and a moderate intake of alcohol. In addition, a key element of the diet is the abundant use of virgin oil for cooking, frying, spreading on bread, and dressing salads.”

13,000 individuals were considered during the study, and made to fill out extensive questionnaires related to their dietary habits. Participants were tracked for eight years (1999 to 2007), with follow-up visits every two years, monitoring changes in their eating habits, and development of health conditions.

According to the study, for those who initially consumed a Mediterranean diet, after eight years, “high adherence to the diet was associated with an 83% relative reduction in the risk of developing diabetes.” This correlation was even seen in those participants with naturally high risk factors for diabetes, such as a family history and smoking. This suggests that adhering to a Mediterranean diet provides a very substantial level of protection, overpowering even the most significant of risk factors.

Original Source: Davies, Rachael. BMJ news release. May 2008.

Update: A 2016 meta-analysis study validated the claims of the 2008 study that a Mediterranean diet helps limit risk of type 2 diabetes, as well as limiting risk of metabolic syndrome.

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