Low-carb, Mediterranean diet protects against Type 2 diabetes

Eating a Mediterranean diet – along with cutting carbs – can help protect against Type 2 diabetes, a new Italian study reveals.

Voted as one of the best diabetes diets of 2013 by U.S. News, the eating plan emphasizes whole grains, fresh fruits, legumes and healthy oils to promote heart health, blood sugar control and weight loss.

The study

Dr. Carlo La Vecchia of the Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacological Research in Milan and colleagues studied patients from an ongoing project called the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). A total of 22,295 participants are a part of the research and 2,330 of them have Type 2 diabetes. The subjects were questioned about their dietary habits, which were then compared against a 10-point Mediterranean diet score (MDS) and another scale that measured the carbohydrate or glycemic load (GL) of their diets.

Results

Participants who had an MDS of more than 6 were 12 percent less likely to develop diabetes than people with MDS scores of 3 or fewer, the research found. Patients who ate the most carbohydrates were 21 percent more likely to develop the blood sugar condition than people who ate the least amount of carbs. Overall, a high MDS combined with a low GL score reduced the chances of developing diabetes by 20 percent when compared to a diet low in MDS and high in GL.

Implications

While studies on the Mediterranean diet have showed conflicting information about exactly how the diet helps protect against diabetes, the Italian research suggests it has less to do with weight control and more to do with specific characteristics of the diet – which might inherently have a person eating less carbohydrates than the individual would normally or on a different diet, the researchers suggest.

One 2012 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who ate a Mediterranean diet after pregnancy had a 40 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Following the diet closely, a person would eat mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins – with red meat and sweets making a rare appearance.

"A low GL diet that also adequately adheres to the principles of the traditional Mediterranean diet may reduce the incidence of Type 2 diabetes," the authors concluded.

Source: Eureka Alert

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