TARRAGONA and REUS, CataloniaFollowing a Mediterranean diet rich in extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) without calorie restriction may help reduce the risk of diabetes among older individuals at high cardiovascular risk, according to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Lifestyle interventions that induce weight loss have been shown to decrease incident diabetes to as low as 50%. Researchers at Universitat Rovira i Virgili investigated whether a Mediterranean diet could reduce incident diabetes without counting calories, increasing physical exercise, or losing weight.
More than 3,500 older adults without diabetes and at high risk for cardiovascular disease were randomly assigned to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with either EVOO or mixed nuts or to a low-fat control diet. Participants in the Mediterranean diet groups primarily ate fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. Their diets were rich in fats from EVOO or mixed nuts. Participants in the control group were instructed to reduce dietary fat intake from all sources. Dieticians provided periodic training sessions to help patients adhere to their diets and participants in all three groups were not required to restrict calorie intake or increase physical activity.
After a 4-year follow-up, participants following the Mediterranean diets had a substantial reduction in the risk for type 2 diabetes compared to those in the control group. The researchers concluded that a Mediterranean diet may have public health implications for diabetes prevention because it is palatable and sustainable.
Following a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, low-fat dairy, whole grains and olive oil also has been found to benefit cognitive function but has an inconsistent effect on mild cognitive impairment, according to a recent review published in the journal Epidemiology.
Another study published recently in Diabetes Care also found adherence to a Mediterranean diet appears to influence a gene variant strongly associated with the development of type 2 diabetes and may reduce the risk of stroke.