Eating a Mediterranean diet can prevent type 2 diabetes in those at risk for developing the disease, according to a new study published online in the British Medical Journal.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil, whole grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes and fish - but low in red meat, dairy products and alcohol.
In the current study, more than 13 000 people with no history of diabetes were recruited to have their diet and lifestyle habits recorded every two years. A food frequency questionnaire was used to determine the participants' use of fats and oils as well as overall food intake.
After about four years, the researchers found that people who ate a diet that was very similar to the Mediterranean style of eating had an 83 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Those who closely followed the Mediterranean diet also had the highest number of risk factors for the disease- including older age, a family history of type 2 diabetes and smoking - suggesting that the diet provided much needed prevention.
The benefits of the Mediterranean diet appear to stem from the use of extra virgin olive oil - instead of animal fats - in cooking, in salad dressings, and for bread dipping. Other beneficial aspects of the Mediterranean diet include a high intake of fibre, low intake of trans fats, and moderate alcohol consumption.
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