In a recent study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, researchers examined more than 25,000 women’s diets.
They found that women who adhered to a Mediterranean diet had a 30% lower rate of type 2 diabetes than women who did not.
The study is published in JAMA Network Open. One author is Samia Mora, MD, MHS.
The Mediterranean diet—rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds—is a recommended way to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other adverse health outcomes.
But exactly how and why the Mediterranean diet lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes has remained unclear.
In the study, the team assigned each woman a Mediterranean diet intake score from 0 to 9, with points assigned for a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and fish, moderate intake of alcohol, and a lower intake of red meat or processed meat.
These included lipoproteins—molecules that pack and transport fats and proteins—and measures of insulin resistance, a condition in which muscle, liver, and fat cells do not respond to normal amounts of insulin. Insulin resistance is often a precursor to diabetes.
The researchers measured a range of biomarkers, including traditional ones such as cholesterol, and more specialized ones that can only be detected using nucleic magnetic resonance.
The findings support the idea that by improving their diet, people can improve their future risk of type 2 diabetes, particularly if they are overweight or have obesity.
Most of this reduced risk linked to the Mediterranean diet and type 2 diabetes was explained through the biomarkers related to insulin resistance, adiposity, lipoprotein metabolism, and inflammation, the team says.
The understanding may have important downstream consequences for the primary prevention of diabetes disease.
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