Gerard LeBlond for www.redorbit.com – Your Universe Online
A diet consisting of fresh produce, chicken, fish and olive oil can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes even without weight loss, according to a new study led by Spanish researchers from the Centro de Investigación Biomédica.
The new study involved more than 3,500 older adults with a high risk of heart disease. They were placed into three different groups: a low-fat diet and two Mediterranean diets, one with the addition of mixed nuts and the other with extra-virgin olive oil. They also received no special instructions pertaining to weight loss or exercise.
The Mediterranean diet consisted of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. The group who used olive oil was allowed just over three tablespoons a day. The mixed nut group was allowed walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts once a day.
The researchers adjusted for other risk factors for diabetes and found that the olive oil group had a 40 percent reduced risk of developing the disease than the low-fat diet group. For5 the mixed nut group, the risk was only 18 percent reduced.
According to the LA Times, three risk factors the study used to determine the subgroup were active smokers, overweight or obesity; family history of premature heart disease; or hypertension or high cholesterol.
The men and woman ranged in age from 55 to 80 and were monitored over four years and between the years 2003 to 2010. The study revealed that 80 people who were in the olive oil group developed type 2 diabetes, 92 in the mixed nut group and 101 in the low-fat diet group.
The research was published online January 7, in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Editor-in-chief of the journal, Dr. Christine Lane, who was not part of the research, commented that the study, “suggests it is possible to reduce the risk of diabetes by changing the composition of your diet. It is another piece of evidence that the Mediterranean diet has health benefits.”
She also added that people, “should work hard to maintain a healthy body weight.”
Olive oil has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may be the reason for the reduced risk. But, even though the study suggests long term olive oil consumption will reduce this risk, it doesn’t determine the cause-and-effect.
People who have diabetes don’t produce the hormone insulin and have trouble controlling blood sugar. Frequency of this disease has more than doubled worldwide in the past 30 years. It can cause blindness, kidney failure and lead to amputation.
Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis told Kathleen Doheny of HealthDay, “The important message from this study is the value of a Mediterranean diet plan to satiety and overall health. Inclusion of plant foods, including nuts, along with the use of olive oil in place of solid fats provides a wider variety of phytonutrients, which promote health, aid metabolism and provide feelings of fullness, all important aspects of weight control.”
Dr. David Heber, from UCLA’s Center for Human Nutrition, believes that people should still cut fat from their diets. He stated that when people lose five to ten percent of their body weight by reducing calorie intake as well as exercise, they cut the risk of developing the disease by close to 60 percent.
“Saying that it’s beneficial to consume more olive oil, which has over 100 calories per tablespoon, without weight loss encourages magical thinking about diabetes,” Heber added.
Dr. James B. Meigs, an internal medicine specialist at Harvard, commented that the latest research suggests a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of the disease as much as preventive medicine. But, he still recommends a low-fat, low calorie diet along with 30 minutes of exercise per day. He also suggest that physicians should still advise weight loss and exercise but sees, “little harm … of also encouraging” a Mediterranean diet.
The groups on the Mediterranean diet were allowed seven glasses of wine per week and the low-fat diet group was told to avoid nuts and vegetable oil, limit store-bought sweets to one per week and remove visible fat from meat. They were also encouraged to eat three servings of low-fat dairy products per day and limit bread, potatoes, pasta or rice to three servings per day.
One factor that may have had an effect on the results was that the groups in the Mediterranean diets stuck to the guidelines more. The researchersnoted that the considerable compliance difference between the Mediterranean groups and the low-fat group were significant. They wrote, “These differences were probably critical.”