September 1, 2009

Mediterranean Diet Prevails Over Low-Fat

Well known as the heart healthy diet, the Mediterranean diet may offer more benefits for diabetes patients. Meals filled with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats beat the traditional low-fat diet in a recent study.

In a four-year study, 215 patients were randomly assigned to participate in either a low-carbohydrate Mediterranean style diet, or in a low-fat diet. Participants were overweight with newly- diagnosed type two diabetes. The study assessed the need for medication in diabetic patients based on their diet. Those on the Mediterranean diet experienced more weight loss, decreased coronary risk factors, and required less medicine than the low-fat dieters.

The Mediterranean diet combines healthy eating with flavors from the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Eating moderate amounts of red meat, and adding fish into a couple meals per week are key to the diet. Replace salt with natural herbs and spices. Red wine may be included in moderation. Healthy fats are essential. Try olive oil or canola oil, and a handful of nuts daily.  Over half of the daily calories in this diet come from monounsaturated fats such as olive oil. Unlike saturated fat, monounsaturated fats will not raise blood cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association.

Only 44 percent of the participants on the Mediterranean diet required antihyperglycemic drug therapy to treat their diabetes, compared to 70 percent of those following a low-fat diet.

Researchers continue to discover new benefits to eating Mediterranean style, including life longevity. The American heart Association recommends including physical activity with the diet.

SOURCE: Annals of Internal Medicine Tip Sheet, September 1, 2009