In most common health cases, doctors prescribe a low fat diet to prevent a variety of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. While numerous studies have shown that high fat diets may increase the risk of certain diseases such as cancer and diabetes, it appears that it is the type of fat that counts rather than the amount of fat. Because of the these studies, we now know that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats such as the ones found in olive oil, nuts and seeds protects us from many of these chronic diseases.
A recent Spanish study published in the scientific journal Diabetes Care showed that a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil reduces the risk of type II diabetes by nearly 50% compared to a low fat diet. Type II diabetes is the most common and preventable form of diabetes.
People who are obese or overweight and have metabolic syndrome are at highest risk for developing this form of diabetes. The study is part of PREDIMED, a long-term nutritional intervention study aimed to assess the efficacy of the Mediterranean diet in the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases, and is composed of a multidisciplinary team of 16 groups distributed in 7 autonomous communities in Spain.
The study included 418 participants (None of them having diabetes). Each participant was randomly assigned to either:
After 4 years 17.9 % of the individuals following the low fat diet developed diabetes, while only 10 % of the participants following the Mediterranean with olive oil diet developed the disease.
When the two MedDiet groups (olive oil and nut groups) were pooled and compared with the low fat group, incidence of diabetes was reduced by 52 %. It is critical to note that the reduction of diabetes risk was independent of changes in body weight or physical activity and that the Mediterranean diets that were followed were not calorie restricted.
Previous studies have shown that a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil may prevent the appearance of type II diabetes by:
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