MedlinePlus, the publishing group of the National Institute of Health released an article entitled Mediterranean Diet Alone May Lower Diabetes Risk on Jan. 6, 2013. The full report, Prevention of Diabetes With Mediterranean Diets: A Subgroup Analysis of a Randomized Trial is contained in The Annals of Internal Medicine for release on Jan. 7, 2013. This report presents the results of an extensive study on the effect of the Mediterranean diet on the risk of developing Type II diabetes
This study was conducted in Italy from 2003 to 2010 on over 3,500 people at high risk for heart disease. Both men and women were included in the study, and the ages ranged from 55 to 80 years. The study concluded that the Mediterranean diet reduced diabetes risk, especially when supplemented with additional olive oil.
The Mediterranean diet consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish, with olive oil being the primary fat used in cooking. The group that had additional olive oil added to their diet had a 40% lower inception of type II diabetes. The group that had one ounce of walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds per day had an 18% reduction in diabetes. The control group was on a low calorie diet.
There was no emphasis on exercise or weight reduction in this study. However, it has been proven that being overweight creates an increased risk of developing Type II diabetes along with heart disease and other complications. The most effective approach to long-term weight loss is through diet and exercise.
Dr. Christine Laine, editor-in-chief of the Annals of Internal Medicine journal and an associate professor of medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia had this to say about the conclusions for the study.
“The study suggests it is possible to reduce the risk of diabetes by changing the composition of your diet. It is another piece of evidence that the Mediterranean diet has health benefits.”
Laine stressed that the findings should not discourage people from using diet and exercise to lose weight. Adding diet and exercise to the Mediterranean diet could theoretically reduce the diabetes risk even more, she noted.
"Those at risk for type 2 diabetes should work hard to maintain a healthy body weight." However, even if they are not able to do that successfully, she said the new study suggests -- but does not prove -- that adding olive oil to their diet may provide some benefit.”
The oil's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, among other factors, may explain the reduction in the onset of diabetes according to the researchers. The researchers also stressed that the finding shows an association between long-term olive oil consumption and reduced risk of diabetes, but doesn't establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
The new study "demonstrates the power of plant foods and an overall healthful diet," said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis.