Reuters reports that research published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that a Mediterranean diet may help protect against diabetes. In fact, the new study shows that the Mediterranean diet alone may be enough to reduce the risk of diabetes, without the need to lose weight or exercise.On its website, TIME reports that the study included approximately 3,500 elderly individuals “who were at high risk for heart disease but did not yet have diabetes.”
Participants were divided into separate groups. One group “ate a Mediterranean diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish, and low in red or processed meat, butter, and sweets, supplemented with extra virgin olive oil.”
A “second group had a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, and the final group, the control consumed a low-fat diet.” Participants were not asked to restrict calories or exercise more.
Forbes contributor Larry Husten writes that after more than four “years’ follow-up, there was a significant 30% reduction in the risk for diabetes in the combined Mediterranean diet groups compared with the low-fat diet group (HR 0.70, CI 0.54 – 0.92).”
The researchers found that “new-onset diabetes had occurred in 6.9% of people in the [extra-virgin olive oil] group, 7.4% in the nuts group, and 8.8% in the control group.” The data indicated that “the differences in outcome appeared to be unrelated to weight loss, as the differences in weight loss across the groups were ‘negligible.’”
HealthDay reports that olive “oil’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, among other factors, may explain the link, the researchers said.”