Mediterranean eating may be better than low-fat dieting

September 2, 2009 in Diabetes & Diabetes Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News, Weight Management

Mediterranean eating may be better than low-fat dieting

A low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean-style diet is more effective than a typical low-fat, calorie-restricted diet for type 2 diabetes management, according to a study published in the September 1, 2009 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.  

Mediterranean-style eating generally means plenty of fish, legumes (beans), fruits, vegetables and whole grains, limited amounts of red meat and processed foods, and a relatively high amount of monounsaturated fat from olive oil and nuts. A typical low-fat diet advises cutting down on all types of dietary fat.

In this new study, researchers from the Second University of Naples, Italy, randomly assign 215 type 2 diabetic patients to follow either a low carbohydrate, Mediterranean-style diet or a low-fat diet for four years.

Nutritionists and dietitians counseled both groups of patients in monthly sessions for the first year and bimonthly sessions for the next three years.

After four years, 70 percent in the low-fat diet group required medication to lower their blood sugar compared to only 44 percent of patients in the Mediterranean-style diet group.

After 1 year, patients in the Mediterranean diet group also experienced greater weight loss. The average difference in weight loss between the two groups was 2.0 kg (4.4 lbs). The Mediterranean dieters also had trimmer waistlines.

In addition, significantly greater increases in "good" HDL-cholesterol levels and greater decreases in harmful blood fats (triglycerides) were seen in the Mediterranean diet group and these heart-healthy benefits were maintained for the duration of the study.

Both Mediterranean and low fat diets are recommended for weight loss in overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes. However, there have been few direct, long-term studies comparing the two.

For more information on the Mediterranean diet check out our April 2009 cookbook review, The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook.  

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.