Does a Mediterranean diet prevent type 2 diabetes? Past studies have demonstrated that a Mediterranean diet – one rich in olive oil, grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables and fish, but low in alcohol, dairy, and meat products – can protect against cardiovascular disease, but until now, little research has been conducted to investigate this healthy eating lifestyle in regards to type 2 diabetes prevention.
Spanish researchers recently concluded a study with roughly 13,000 University of Navarra graduates who had no prior history of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The participants’ eating habits and lifestyles were monitored periodically over nearly 4 and a half years.
A main finding of the study, published on bmj.com, was that subjects who ‘adhered highly’ to the Mediterranean lowered their relative risk of developing type 2 diabetes by an impressive 83%.
“The researchers also found it interesting that the participants who kept strict Mediterranean diets were the ones who were most susceptible to diabetes through risk factors such as older age, a family history of diabetes, and a history of smoking. Since this group was expected to have a higher incidence of diabetes, the authors suggest that their observed lower risk is indicative of the Mediterranean diet’s potentially substantial protective ability.” (Medical News Today)
Important protective aspects of the Mediterranean diet, in particular, are high fiber and vegetable fat intake, low trans-fatty acids, and moderate alcohol consumption. Also significant was the copious use of virgin olive oil in cooking, salad dressings, and accompanying bread.
Researchers are encouraged by these study results, but caution that “further larger cohorts and trials are needed to confirm [their] findings.” Diabetes and weight loss, however, is only part of the bigger picture of type 2 diabetes prevention .