I have mentioned in the past that the Mediterranean diet is a good diet not only for prevention of diabetes but also for someone who has diabetes. Some years ago it was all about low-fat and carbohydrate counting for diabetic patients. That’s what we were taught in college. And that was what everybody believed. Even here in Greece, it was said that diabetes is a rich man’s disease because the diet had to be high protein, in other words rich in meat, and meat was expensive.
Fortunately science has been pointing to the humble Mediterranean diet as a good choice for diabetes. Even though not low fat, it appears to have better results for type 2 diabetes. An older, yet significant study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that the Mediterranean diet was able to prevent the need for drugs in newly diagnosed individuals. In other words if you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and follow a Mediterranean diet you might not need to take medications. The study compared the Mediterranean diet with a typical low fat diet and found that it was much more effective in controlling diabetes but also for weight loss.
This new review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, had similar findings in terms of weight loss and glucose control. British researchers reviewed 20 studies that compared 7 popular diets and their effect on individuals with type 2 diabetes. They compared low-carbohydrate, vegetarian, vegan, low–glycemic index (GI), high-fiber, Mediterranean, and high-protein diets with control diets including low-fat, high-GI, American Diabetes Association, European Association for the Study of Diabetes, and low-protein diets.
The results of the analysis showed that the low-carbohydrate, low-GI, Mediterranean, and high-protein diets improved glycemic control with the Mediterranean diet having the largest effect. The Mediterranean diet also led to a significant weight loss (4 pounds) while the other diets did not have this effect.
The lesson here is that the Mediterranean diet, although known more for being heart healthy can also be a good diet for diabetes. It is actually a moderate to low carb diet when followed correctly. No it isn’t about eating huge amounts of pasta and bread. And all the antioxidant rich foods can play an important role in the prevention but also the management of the disease.
Who remembers the recent ranking of best diets by US News? They gave the Mediterranean diet one of the lowest scores for diabetes. I guess they were wrong…