The Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Previously, it was associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions.
“The results of this study make perfect sense,” said Dr. Minisha Sood, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
“This provides unique long-term data and supports the idea that ‘fad diets’ are not the silver bullet. Having the heart of your food approach based on the principles of the Mediterranean diet over decades can be very helpful in reducing the overall risk of type 2 diabetes, “added Sood, who was not in the study.
Researchers collected data on more than 25,000 participants in the US Women’s Health Study, which followed healthcare workers for more than 20 years. During this time, more than 2,300 of these women developed type 2 diabetes.
Those who ate more of a Mediterranean-style diet at the start of the study developed diabetes at rates 30% lower than those of women who ate a less Mediterranean diet, the researchers found. But only overweight or obese women showed this reduced risk.
“Our results support the idea that by improving their diet, people may improve their future risk for type 2 diabetes, particularly if they are overweight or have obesity,” said the Study author Dr. Samia Mora of the preventive medicine division of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In Boston.
“Much of the benefits we’re seeing can be explained in a few ways. And it’s important to note that many of these changes don’t happen right away. Although metabolism can change over a short period of time, our study indicates that there are longer-term changes that can provide protection over decades, ”Mora said in a press release from the hospital.
The research team measured a range of markers, including cholesterol, lipoproteins (molecules that pack and transport fats and proteins), and insulin resistance.
The fiber content of the Mediterranean diet is higher than that of the standard Western diet, Sood said, adding that it is not surprising that markers of insulin resistance – an indicator of diabetes – are lower in those with follow the plant-rich approach.
Dr Shuchie Jaggi is attending physician at Northwell Health in Great Neck, NY “The large sample size [more than 25,000 subjects] and up to 25 years of subject follow-up makes this study more meaningful for women over 50 who are at risk of developing diabetes in Western countries, ”she said.
Jaggi and Sood noted several limitations, however. Diet was not self-reported until the start of the study, and study participants were not diverse.
“The subjects belonged to a certain cohort of well-educated white American women who reported diabetes, which makes it less applicable to other ethnicities,” noted Jaggi, who had no role in the study.
Still, Jaggi said: “Although this study is not a randomized clinical trial, it provides clinicians with information that higher consumption of the Mediterranean diet improved long-term cardio-metabolic results.
The report was published online on November 19 in the newspaper JAMA network open.
To learn more about the Mediterranean diet, check out the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Minisha Sood, MD, endocrinologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Shuchie Jaggi, DO, attending physician, Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Northwell Health, Great Neck, NY; Brigham and Women’s Hospital, press release, November 19, 2020