Mediterranean diet has always been thought of as the ideal diet to maintain cardiovascular health without giving up nice-tasting food.
Italian researchers report that a low-carb Mediterranean diet works better than a low-fat diet in controlling this metabolic disease.
The researchers randomly placed 215 overweight patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes into 2 different diet regimes as follows:
- A Mediterranean diet, which included lots of vegetables and whole grains, with little red meat but with poultry and fish instead, where <50% of calories were from complex carbohydrates and >30% of calories were from fat, largely olive oil.
- A low-fat diet based on American Heart Association guidelines, which included lots of whole grains and restricted sweets, fats, and high-fat snacks, where <30% of calories were from fat.
After a follow up period of 4 years, the researchers observed that 70% of patients placed on low-fat diet progressed to the drug therapy stage. Only 44% of those on a Mediterrranean diet progressed that far. In addition, Mediterranean diet patients also shoed better improvement in some cardiovascular risk factors, including high levels of „good“ HDL cholesterol, and lesser incidence of hypertension.
According to Dr Christine Laine, editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine where the study results were published
„The study confirms that lifestyle changes are a basic part of managing diabetes…[It also] suggests that people might be better off if the dietary advice they receive is in line with the Mediterranean diet.”
For this lifestyle strategy to work, however, the patients needed intensive support from nutritionists and dieticians and constant monitoring. The patients go this during the 4-year study. However, the this type of support may not be available in normal situations. It is recommended that primary care clinicians should not overlook the role of diet in the management of type 2 diabetes.