Plenty of research has shown that a Mediterranean style diet can reduce the risk of diabetes. Now a new meta-analysis is showing that this type of eating pattern not only reduces the risk of this chronic disease, but more so in individuals at high risk for heart disease.

Greek researchers from the Harokopio University in Athens conducted a review of 19 original research studies that followed more than 162,000 participants for an average of 5.5 years. The analysis of these studies showed there was a 21 percent reduced risk of diabetes in individuals who followed a Mediterranean-style diet which is characterized by high intake of vegetables, fruit, olive oil, beans and moderate consumption of wine.


The investigators note that this effect was even greater in participants who were at a high risk for heart disease and for whom diabetes prevention is particularly important. This subgroup had 27 percent less likelihood of developing diabetes compared to those in the control group which were mostly following a westernized diet.

A significant component of this review is the fact that these studies included European and non-European populations. According to Demosthenes Panagiotakos, professor at Harokopio University in Athens and chief investigator, this is important as most of studies have been European-based and there has been some question of possible confounding factors in these regions including genetics, the environment and lifestyle. The results of this meta-analysis have shown that a Mediterranean diet can benefit individuals from around the world — not only the Mediterranean.

Earlier this year the ongoing intervention Predimed study in Spain also showed that a Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of diabetes among older individuals by 30 percent, while data from the Greek participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition that studied over 22,000 individuals showed that a Mediterranean diet reduced the incidence of diabetes by 20 percent.

The research will be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session.


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