Many studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet has a role in prevention of cardiovascular disease, and some suggest that it could also protect against diabetes. Protective characteristics include a high intake of fibre, a high intake of vegetable fat, a low intake of trans fatty acids, a moderate intake of alcohol, and the abundant use of virgin olive oil which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. Diets rich in monounsaturated fatty acids improve lipid profiles and glycaemic control in diabetics.
Martinez-Gonzalez et al in the BMJ of 14th June 2008 pp 1348-1351 looked at the relationship between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and the incidence of diabetes among initially healthy participants.
The prospective cohort study took into account relative risk adjusted for sex, age, years of university education, total energy intake, body mass index, physical activity, sedentary habits, smoking, family history of diabetes, and personal history of hypertension.
The study was set in a Spanish university department, 13 380 Spanish university graduates without diabetes at baseline were followed up for a median of 4.4 years
Dietary habits were assessed at baseline with a validated 136 item food frequency questionnaire and scored on a nine point index. New cases of diabetes confirmed through medical reports and an additional detailed questionnaire posted to those who self reported a new diagnosis of diabetes by a doctor during follow-up.
Participants who adhered closely to a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of diabetes. The incidence rate ratios adjusted for sex and age were 0.41 (95% confidence interval 0.19 to 0.87) for those with moderate adherence (score 3-6) and 0.17 (0.04 to 0.75) for those with the highest adherence (score 7-9) compared with those with low adherence (score They concluded that a Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes.
Martinez-Gonzalez et al 2008, Adherence to Mediterranean diet and the risk of developing diabetes: prospective study. BMJ vol 336 pp 1348-1351
- Martin Eastwood