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Mediterranean Diet for Diabetes

The following article by health and medicine writer Nicholas Bakalar is reprinted from the New York Times, January 13, 2014

More good news on the Mediterranean diet. Sticking to a Mediterranean-style diet may help reduce the risk for Type 2 diabetes, even when people don’t lose weight or increase exercise levels.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil, nuts, fish, beans, fruits and vegetables, with few dairy products and moderate alcohol consumption.

The study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, randomly assigned 3,541 men and women, ages 55 to 80 and free of diabetes, to one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with either two ounces of extra-virgin olive oil, one supplemented with an ounce of mixed nuts a day, and a control group advised to eat a low-fat diet. They followed the participants for an average of about four years, with no intervention to increase physical activity or limit calories.

Compared with the control group, and after adjusting for health and socioeconomic factors, the risk for diabetes was 40 percent lower with the Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil and 18 percent lower with the diet supplemented with nuts.

“The strength of our study is that it has a large number of participants with a long followup and a randomized design,” said an author, Dr. Ramón Estruch, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Barcelona. “The diet works by itself without considering physical activity or changes in weight, which were insignificant between groups.”

The study in Annals of Internal Medicine referenced in the article above can be found here.