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Mediterranean Diet May Lower Type-2 Diabetes Risk

A new study indicates that the Mediterranean diet may reduce the  risk of type-2 diabetes. Type-2 diabetes affects 90% of the 21 million people who suffer from diabetes in the United States.

The Mediterranean diet includes high quantities of vegetables, fruits, olive oil, and fish, while maintaining low consumption of diary, red meat, and alcohol.

The study was conducted by scientists at the University of Navarra in Spain and results were published in the May 2008 issue of the British Medical Journal.

Scientists studied 13,000 university graduates with no history of diabetes for an average of 4 years. They found that those with a high observance of the Mediterranean diet were 83% less likely to have type-2 diabetes.

The Mediterranean diet has also been found to reduce the risk of heart disease. One reason could be the high content of omega-3 essential fatty-acids found in fish which may lower blood pressure and cut the risk of heart attack.

Moreover, it is important to distinguish between omega-3 essential fatty-acids and omega-6 fatty acids. While omega-3 essential fatty-acids reduce inflammation, Omega-6 fatty acids found in processed foods promote it. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends a ratio between the two of about 1 to 1. The typical American diet contains a ratio of about 15 to 1. This has been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, inflammatory and auto-immune diseases.

The Mediterranean diet, in addition to helping to correct the ratio between omega fatty acids, offers polyphenols in fruits and vegetables that are known to be rich in antioxidants.

Source: M A Martinez-Gonzalez, C de la Fuente-Arrillaga, J M Nunez-Cordoba, F J Basterra-Gortari, J J Beunza, Z Vazquez, S Benito, A Tortosa, and M Bes-Rastrollo
Adherence to Mediterranean diet and risk of developing diabetes: prospective cohort study
BMJ, May 2008; doi:10.1136/bmj.39561.501007.BE
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