A randomized controlled trial of the Mediterranean diet from Spain indicates that such a diet can lower the likelihood of high-risk people developing diabetes. In the PrediMed study, people at risk for heart disease were randomly assigned to a low-fat control group, a Mediterranean diet with extra olive oil or a Mediterranean diet with extra nuts.
The volunteers following the diet rich in olive oil were 30 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes during the four years of the study. They achieved this result even thought they did not cut down on calories. Although people with diabetes have been warned to reduce their fat intake, this study suggests that the right kind of fat may actually be beneficial in preventing metabolic disruption.
The first finding published from this unusually large randomized dietary trial is that the Mediterranean diet prevents death from heart attack and stroke (New England Journal of Medicine, April 4, 2013). Analyses of smaller groups of the participants found that the folks following the Mediterranean diets (either nuts or olive oil) were less prone to dementia (The Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, Dec, 2013). In addition, the volunteers getting extra olive oil and nuts along with their high-vegetable diet were less susceptible to stroke (Diabetes Care, Nov. 2013).
It is not just the Spanish volunteers who have benefited from this way of eating. Some large “cohort” studies, in which people are followed up over time and their eating patterns are matched to their health outcomes, have also shown that eating in the Mediterranean manner can add life to our later years (Annals of Internal Medicine, Nov. 5, 2013) and help us stay sharp as we age (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Nov, 2013).
If you would like to follow a Mediterranean-style diet but don’t know where to start, we can help. We outline the basic plan in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. The Mediterranean lifestyle also includes time with friends, and for those who are not opposed, an occasional glass of wine.