If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, following a Mediterranean-inspired diet could help reduce the risk of getting diabetes and help improve insulin and blood sugar control. A new study from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School noted that changing eating habits by following an Mediterranean eating plan can have other positive effects, including lowering the risk for other chronic diseases.
This new data supports a previous examination of 19 studies about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for diabetes. Those who adhered to a Mediterranean-inspired diet were 21 percent less likely to get diabetes than those who did not follow the same diet. In addition, people who were prone to cardiovascular disease saw benefits in particular, lowering their chances of developing the blood sugar disorder by 27 percent.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a healthy eating, plant-based plan that is high in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish, whole grains and a moderate amount of wine. The diet includes moderate amounts of dairy products and very little red meat. Healthy fats like olive oil are used instead of saturated and trans fats. Herbs and spices boost flavor and lessen the need for salt.
If you think mastering the Mediterranean diet will be difficult, think again. It ranks among the easiest meal plans to follow. Start by thinking of it as a style of eating rather than a diet. Then take these small steps to better eating and better health:
- Work seafood into your meal plan twice a week.
- Cook a vegetarian meal one night a week.
- Replace butter with olive oil.
- Choose whole grains instead of refined bread, rice and pasta.
- Replace sugary snacks with vegetables and fruit.
Want to learn more? AARP offers some additional Mediterranean diet cooking tips to get you started.