A Mediterranean diet rich in extra-virgin olive oil cuts the chance of developing diabetes by almost a third, according to the latest data from the PREDIMED study in The Annals of Internal Medicine. PREDIMED was a large study in Spain that tested the ability of Mediterranean-style eating to prevent cardiovascular disease.
In the study, 7,500 people, ages 55 to 80, were divided up and put on one of three diets: a reduced-fat diet, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, or a Mediterranean diet supplemented with minimally processed (extra-virgin) olive oil. Roughly half of the participants did not have diabetes when the study started.
After following the groups for four years and noting any new cases of diabetes, researchers found that those on the olive-oil diet were 40% less likely to develop diabetes compared with people on the reduced-fat diet. People on the nut diet did not see a similar benefit in preventing diabetes.
PREDIMED has previously found that people on a Mediterranean diet are less likely to have heart problems and strokes. This update reveals potential health benefits for those at risk of diabetes. A Mediterranean-style diet means getting most of your daily calories from a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, along with moderate fish, poultry, eggs, and olive oil and minimal red and processed meat and saturated fats.