NAPLES, Italy—Those recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may benefit from following the Mediterranean diet— high in olive oil, fish and whole grains—which slows progression of the disease more than following a low-fat diet, according to a new study published in the journal Diabetes Care.
Researchers at the Second University of Naples conducted a two-arm trial study to assess the long-term effects of following a low-fat diet or the Mediterranean diet on glycemic control, need for diabetes medications and remission of type 2 diabetes.
The study followed overweight, middle-aged men and women with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes. Participants were randomized to a low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet (LCMD; n =108) or a low-fat diet (n =107). After 4 years, participants who were still free of diabetes medications were further followed up until the primary end point (need of a diabetic drug) or remission of diabetes (partial or complete); changes in weight, glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors were also evaluated.
Results showed a low-carb Mediterranean diet resulted in a higher rate of diabetes remission and delayed need for diabetes medication compared with the low-fat diet.
Of course, this is telling us what we, and increasingly consumers, already know—fats are far from deserving elimination from our diets, and some actually merit greater representation. And as the specific dietary effects of fats and fatty acids are teased out by nutrition researchers, science is finding ways to modify the composition of the ingredients offered, offering improved functionality while keeping health benefits in tact.
For example, breeding technology is working to reduce the level of saturated fat in canola oil. Currently, canola oil contains 7% saturates. However, companies are working toward cutting that number in half. The soybean industry is also working to improve the nutritional profile of soybean oil. In typical vegetable oils, heat and oxygen attack the double bonds, creating rancid taste and smell. High-oleic soy, however, allows the monounsaturated fat to concentrate at higher levels, while polyunsaturated fats—the main source of oxidation—are reduced. In Food Product Design's FoodTech Toolbox, the Report "Future Fats: Bringing on Health and Functionality" dives into fats and how new technology that taps into genetic modification of oilseeds, brand new oil sources and molecular manipulation through interesterification can provide the right answers for many formulations.