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Mediterranean Diet May Ward Off Type 2 Diabetes
Date:5/30/2008

The eating plan is rich in fruits and vegetables and low in animal products

FRIDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- Adhering to the so-called Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits and vegetables and low in animal products, may protect you against developing type 2 diabetes, a Spanish study suggests.

A Mediterranean diet is often recommended as a way to guard against cardiovascular disease, but whether it protects against diabetes hasn't been established. The diet emphasizes olive oil, vegetables, fruits, nuts, cereals, legumes and fish, and deemphasizes meat and dairy products.

"The Mediterranean diet is a healthful eating plan that seems to help in the prevention of heart disease," said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, who was not involved with the study. "Consumption of the Mediterranean diet will support health and may aid in the prevention of several diseases," she added.

For the study, published online May 30 in the British Medical Journal, researchers tracked the diets of 13,380 Spanish university graduates with no history of diabetes. Participants filled out a 136-item food questionnaire, which measured their entire diet (including their intake of fats), their cooking methods and their use of dietary supplements.

During an average of 4.4 years of follow-up, the team found that people who adhered to a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, those who stuck very closely to the diet reduced their risk by 83 percent.

Moreover, the people who tended to stick closest to the diet were those with factors that put them at the highest risk for developing diabetes, such as being older, having a family history of diabetes and being an ex-smoker. These people were expected to have a higher rate of diabetes, but when they adhered to the Mediterranean diet this was not the case, the researchers noted.
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