Health Studies

Mediterranean Diet Decreases Diabetes Risk

Researchers in Vienna, Austria reviewed data from over 122,000 adults to investigate the association between the Mediterranean diet and diabetes risk. After analyzing eight prospective cohort studies and one clinical controlled trial published between 2007 and 2014, the scientists found that greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a significant reduction (19%) in the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Public Health Nutrition. 2014 Aug 22 [Epub ahead of print] (Schwingshackl L et al.)

Mediterranean Diet May Decrease Asthma in Children

Although environmental factors are related to asthma very little research exists on asthma and dietary patterns. Stanford researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 31 studies on asthma and diet. While the analysis found no association between diet and asthma prevalence in adults or of maternal diet with child asthma or wheeze, 7 of the 10 studies analyzing the Mediterranean diet showed protective effects on child asthma and/or wheeze. This research suggests that the Mediterranean diet may prevent asthma or wheeze in children.
Journal of Asthma and Allergy. 2014 Aug 12;7:105-21 (Lv N et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Decreases Risk of Frailty in Aging Adults

The Mediterranean diet stands the test of time! As part of a prospective cohort study in Spain, researchers assessed 1815 community dwelling older adults for adherence to the Mediterranean diet and measures of frailty (including exhaustion, muscle weakness, low physical activity, slow walking speed, and weight loss). The researchers found that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was significantly associated with a decreased risk of frailty. The study also found that reduced frailty risk was related with increased fruit consumption and fish consumption.
Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. 2014 Aug 7 (Leon-Munoz LM et al.)

Med Diet Slows Diabetes Progression

The Mediterranean Diet slowed the progression of type 2 diabetes more than a low-fat diet, in a recent randomized controlled trial in Naples, Italy, of 215 adults recently diagnosed with diabetes. The Med Diet group ate a diet high in olive oil, vegetables and whole grains, with poultry and fish replacing most red meat, while the low-fat group concentrated on restricting fatty or sugary snacks and limiting overall fat. At the six-year mark, all the people in the low-fat group needed medication, while some in the Med group were able to delay medication for two more years. People on the Med Diet also tended to lose more weight and to stick with the diet even after the trial ended.
Diabetes Care, ePub April 10, 2014. Esposito et al.

Med Diet and Lower Risk of Peripheral Artery Disease

Researchers for the PREDIMED study reviewed data that followed about 7,500 adults aged 55 to 80 who had a high risk of developing heart disease. The people were divided into 3 groups: one was assigned to eat a Mediterranean Diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil; one was assigned to eat a Mediterranean Diet enriched with nuts; and one was assigned to a control group that received advice on following a low-fat diet. Over five years a total of 89 participants developed peripheral artery disease (PAD), which deposits plaque in the arteries of the legs, restricting blood flow, and can cause pain during walking. Participants in the control group developed PAD at a rate of about 0.5% per year. The Med Diet with nuts group experienced half that rate, and the Med Diet with olive oil group experienced an even lower rate of 0.15% per year. Researchers believe this is the first randomized primary prevention trial to suggest an association between diet and reduced rates of PAD.
JAMA. 2014; 311(4):415-417 [Ruiz-Canela M, Estruch R, Corella D, Salas-Salvadó J, Martínez-González MA].

Med Diet May Help Cut Diabetes Risk without Cutting Calories

Researchers reviewed data collected during the PREDIMED study in which more than 3500 patients aged 55 to 80 years with high cardiovascular risk were randomly assigned to eat 1 of 3 diets: Mediterranean Diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, Mediterranean Diet supplemented with nuts, or a control diet (patients received advice on a low-fat diet). None of the diets were calorie restricted. Over the course of the study 16% of the participants on a Med Diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil and 18.7% of those on the Med Diet plus nuts developed type 2 diabetes, compared to 23.6% of the participants on the control diet, leading researchers to conclude that a Mediterranean Diet enriched with olive oil but without calorie restrictions can reduce diabetes risk for people with high cardiovascular risk.
Annals of Internal Medicine. 2014; 160(1):10-10-10. [Salas-Salvadó, et al].

Med Diet May Help Prevent Gestational Diabetes

Researchers assessed the dietary habits of more than 1000 pregnant women in 10 Mediterranean countries to determine their adherence to a Mediterranean Diet. The women were screened for gestational diabetes between their 24th and 32nd weeks of pregnancy. The researchers found that adherence to a Mediterranean Diet is associated with lower incidence of gestational diabetes. They call for further testing of the use of the Mediterranean Diet for the prevention of gestational diabetes.
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014; 68:8-13. [Karamanos, et al].

Sofrito Contains Healthy Antioxidants

Different Mediterranean sofritos (sautéed vegetables and spices, usually a combination of tomatoes, garlic, and onions cooked in olive oil) were analyzed for their content of healthy antioxidants. Researchers identified 40 different types of polyphenols, including some never previously reported in Mediterranean sofrito. Polyphenols are associated with low incidence of cardiovascular disease. The sofritos also contained other beneficial compounds such as carotenoids and vitamin C. The amount of the antioxidants differed among sofritos according to the type of vegetables or olive oil used to make them. Researchers also discovered that the health benefits obtained from sofrito are better than the benefits obtained from eating each ingredient separately.

Food Chemistry. 2013 Dec 15; 141(4): 3365-3372 (Vallverdú-Querald, et al.) [EPub ahead of print]

Med Diet Pattern May Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes

The foods we eat and the times at which we eat them can both affect blood sugar management, according to a very small randomized cross-over study carried out in Sweden. Researchers at Linköping University identified 19 people with type 2 diabetes, then observed their post-consumption response to three different breakfast-lunch combinations: low-fat (~50% of energy from carbohydrates), low-carbohydrate (~20% of energy from carbohydrates), and Mediterranean Diet (~33% of energy from carbohydrates). The low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets consisted of breakfast and lunch, whereas the Mediterranean Diet offered only black coffee at breakfast and a large lunch with red wine that equaled the number of calories in both the breakfast and lunch of each of the other two diets – an approach followed in many Mediterranean countries. After the Mediterranean lunch, subjects had greater insulin release, which kept glucose levels lower despite the larger meal. Researchers noted that their results are consistent with other research that shows that obese subjects show greater insulin-sensitivity when carbohydrates are concentrated at a single meal, and that most people are more insulin-resistant earlier in the day than at mid-day or in the evening.
PLOS ONE. 2013 Nov 27; 8(11): e79324 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079324 (Fernemark, et al).

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil & Exercise Prevent Cartilage Degeneration

Since inflammation is one of the factors leading to cartilage degeneration in osteoarthritis, Italian researchers explored whether extra-virgin olive oil could help protect joints from the ravages of inflammation. They found that consumption of extra-virgin olive oil, coupled with mild exercise on a treadmill, lowered inflammation markers and can help prevent osteoarthritis and preserve cartilage.
Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2013 Dec;24(12):2064-75. Musumeci et al.

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