In the latest trial of the ongoing intervention study PREDIMED, Spanish researchers found that following a Mediterranean diet may cut the risk of diabetes by about 30 percnt compared to the control diet, which was characterized as a low fat diet.
The study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, involved 3,541 men and women who were a subgroup of the larger PREDIMED study that enrolled over 7,000 participants from seven communities in Spain since 2003. The men and women for this particular trial were between 55 and 80 years of age and at high risk for heart disease, but without diabetes.
As is standard with the PREDIMED study, the participants were assigned to one of three diets: Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, or a control diet (participants were advised to follow a low fat diet). The participants were not asked to exercise or lose weight.
At follow up which was on average 4.1 years, 101 individuals from the control group developed diabetes, while only 80 individuals from the olive oil Mediterranean diet group developed the disease. The researchers noted that adherence was much higher in the Mediterranean diet groups and concluded that a Mediterranean diet enriched with extra virgin olive oil without caloric limitations may reduce diabetes risk in individuals with a high heart disease risk.
This is not the first time that the Mediterranean diet has been found to have a preventative effect against diabetes. In 2011 a smaller trial (418 participants) of the PREDIMED study showed that a Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of type II diabetes by almost 50 percent compared to a low fat diet.