Going Mediterranean Could Cut Your Diabetes Risk
We've got the delicious ingredients that can help you lower your risk for diabetes. Here's what new research suggests including in your daily menus for good health (not to mention great taste!).
Snack on a generous handful of nuts. Sip a glass of red wine with dinner. Top vegetables with zesty tomato sauce. And feast as if you live beside the Mediterranean Sea's blue waters—on fish, beans, olive oil, and fruit.
Delicious? You bet. The bonus: Eating this way could cut your odds for diabetes by an impressive 52 percent—even if you don't lose a pound. That's the conclusion of research that suggests a new strategy for reducing your risk for diabetes, the high blood sugar disease that's becoming an epidemic in the United States and around the world.
Diabetes Prevention Through Good Fats, Great Food
In this study from the University of Rovira i Virgili in Reus, Spain, 418 middle-aged Spaniards followed a traditional Mediterranean diet or a low-fat diet for four years. Researchers checked their fasting blood sugar levels—the usual test for type 2 diabetes—at the beginning and again at the end of the experiment. The result: People who followed the Mediterranean eating plan were half as likely to develop diabetes as people on the low-fat diet. And they reduced their risk without losing weight, long considered a mainstay of diabetes prevention.
The researchers say this way of eating reduces risk for blood sugar problems in several ways. First, the good fats in nuts and olive oil make your body more sensitive to insulin, the hormone that tells cells to absorb blood sugar. Good fats also cool off body-wide inflammation, which can fuel the development of diabetes. They even seem to discourage the accumulation of body fat in your abdomen, a good thing because deep abdominal fat encourages the development of diabetes.
But that's not all. Cutting back on saturated fat, found in fatty meats and in full-fat dairy products, also helps maintain or improve insulin sensitivity, research suggests. And eating plenty of produce helps by reducing inflammation and encouraging healthy blood sugar processing by your body.
Go Mediterranean for Your Health
Here's how you can put more Mediterranean-style foods on your table.
Enjoy an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Aim for at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 cups of veggies per day. Go for fresh, local produce when possible to maximize nutrients.
Have fish at least twice a week. Limit red meat to a few times per month. Instead, have chicken or meals that feature legumes like kidney, navy, white, or black beans.
Have fruit for dessert most days. Cut back on sweets and cut out sugary drinks like soda, sweetened iced teas, and fruit punches.
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Have 1 to 2 glasses of red wine a day for men, or up to 1 per day for women, to celebrate good health.
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