- Adopting a Mediterranean-like diet, rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, has been associated with a decrease in the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other health conditions.
- Research data from the U.S. Women’s Health Study shows that women who adhere to a Mediterranean-style diet have a 30% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, particularly if they were overweight or obese.
- The adoption of a Mediterranean diet can contribute to lower risks of type 2 diabetes in the long term, as it entails transformations in metabolism and other body factors over a prolonged period.
- The research measured various health markers, with the most significant contributor to lower risk being markers connected to insulin resistance—this is attributed to the high fiber content present in the Mediterranean diet.
- While the study wasn’t a randomized clinical trial, it still provides valuable insights into the link between a higher consumption of the Mediterranean diet and improved long-term cardio-metabolic outcomes.
For overweight women, integrating a Mediterranean-like diet into their lifestyle could potentially lower their chances of developing type 2 diabetes by 30% than the women who do not, as per a recent study.
Overview of the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is abundant in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. In earlier studies, this diet had been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other health conditions.
“The outcomes of this research are totally coherent,” expressed Dr. Minisha Sood, an endocrinologist based in New York City.
“This offers unique long-term data and supports the concept that ‘flash-in-the-pan diets’ are not the magic solution. Adopting a dietary approach based on Mediterranean diet principles over decades can be extremely beneficial in reducing overall risk for type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Sood added, who was not part of the study.
The researchers obtained data on more than 25,000 participants from the U.S. Women’s Health Study, which tracked health care workers for more than 20 years. During those years, over 2,300 of these women have developed type 2 diabetes.
Those women who consumed more of a Mediterranean-style diet at the beginning of the study developed diabetes at rates 30% lower than women who ate a less Mediterranean diet. This reduction in risk was observed only in women who were overweight or obese.
Improvements and Future Risks
“Our research supports the idea that by enhancing their diet, individuals can improve their future risk of type 2 diabetes, more so if they are overweight or have obesity,” explained study author Dr. Samia Mora, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Division of Preventive Medicine.
“Many of the advantages we observe can be explained through just a few pathways. It’s crucial to remember that many of these changes don’t occur instantly. While metabolism can shift over a brief period, our research indicates that there are longer-term changes happening that potentially provide protection over decades,” Mora stated.
Exploring Health Markers
The study in question measured a range of markers, including cholesterol, lipoproteins (molecules that pack and transport fats and proteins) and insulin resistance.
Markers connected to insulin resistance were the most significant contributor to lower risk, followed by markers of body mass index, high-density lipoprotein, and inflammation.
According to Dr. Sood, the fiber content of the Mediterranean diet is higher than that of the standard Western diet. This contributes to why markers of insulin resistance, an indicator of diabetes, are lower in those who adhere to the plant-rich approach.
Dr. Shuchie Jaggi, an attending physician at Northwell Health noted that “Although this study is not a randomized clinical trial, it provides clinicians with the information that a higher consumption of the Mediterranean diet has improved long-term cardio-metabolic outcomes.”
The report was published online in the Journal JAMA Network Open.
For more information on the Mediterranean diet, please visit the American Heart Association’s website.