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Mediterranean Diet May Help Control Diabetes

A Mediterranean-style diet may be more effective than a low-fat diet as a means of controlling diabetes.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in cereals, wine, fruit, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fish and olive oil. It is low in dairy, meat, junk food and fat.

According to a study published in the September, 2009 Annals of Internal Medicine, adherence to the Mediterranean diet led to improvements in blood sugar control and coronary risk factors and delayed the need for anti-hyperglycemic drug therapy in overweight patients with type 2 diabetes.

Researchers from the Second University of Naples, Italy recruited 125 overweight people who had recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The participants were randomly assigned to one of the following two diets:

1. Mediterranean-style diet, with less than 1/2 of all daily calories coming from carbohydrates.

2. Low-fat diet, with less than 30% of all daily calories coming from fat.

After four years of study, only 44% of the Mediterranean-style diet group required anti-hyperglycemic treatment, compared to 70% of the low-fat diet group.

The Mediterranean-style diet was also associated with a 4.5 lb greater weight loss and greater improvements in body mass index.

The researchers believe the Mediterranean-style diet helps control diabetes because it is high in monosaturated fatty acids, which improve insulin sensitivity.

Diabetes is quickly becoming a global epidemic, with almost 24 million people in the US (8% of the population) diagnosed with diabetes. Several lifestyle changes can help diabetics manage their disease, including eating a healthy diet, maintaining a safe weight and getting adequate physical activity.

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