Study: Mediterranean diet may cut diabetes risk

REUS, Spain New research has found a Mediterranean diet can cut the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 50% in nondiabetics with high cardiovascular risk.

The study was conducted by Jordi Salas-Salvado and colleagues and published online in the Oct. 7 edition of Diabetes Care. This is the first randomized clinical trial to look specifically at use of the Mediterranean diet for the prevention of diabetes, the investigators said.

The research by Salas-Salvado and colleagues is a nested substudy of Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea (PREDIMED), which is a multicenter, randomized, parallel-group primary-prevention trial that is ongoing in Spain to assess the effects of two Mediterranean diets -- supplemented with either extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts -- versus a low-fat diet as a control group on cardiovascular and other chronic-disease outcomes in persons at high cardiovascular risk.

A total of 418 nondiabetic subjects ages 55 to 80 years were randomized to the low-fat diet (control group), or one of two Mediterranean diets supplemented with either free virgin olive oil (1 L/week) or nuts (30 g/day). Diets were without limits, and no advice on physical activity was given. The main outcome was diabetes incidence as diagnosed by the 2009 American Diabetes Association criteria: After a median follow-up of four years, diabetes incidence was 10.1%, 11.0%, and 17.9% in the Mediterranean-diet-with-olive-oil group, the Mediterranean-diet-with-nuts group, and the control group, respectively.

"The diabetes risk reduction occurred in the absence of significant changes in body weight or physical activity, so the reduction can be attributed only to the diet, not to weight loss," Salas-Salvado said.

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