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09-08-2010 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Mediterranean diet linked to improved glycemic control


Free abstract

MedWire News: A diet based on the traditional Mediterranean diet can improve glycemic control without causing weight gain in patients with well-controlled diabetes, an Australian study suggests.

"The intervention resulted in a statistically and clinically significant improvement in glycemic control, equivalent to mono drug therapy," say Catherine Itsiopoulos, from the University of Canberra, and colleagues.

They also highlight that "in contrast to the commonly held view that a high-fat diet leads to weight gain, we demonstrated that a Mediterranean-style intervention diet, provided ad libitum with 40% energy from fat, did not cause weight gain. Indeed, a trend toward weight loss was observed."

The team recruited 27 Australian-born patients with diabetes adequately controlled by diet (n=9), oral hypoglycemics (n=15), or insulin (n=3), and with no previous exposure to a Mediterranean diet.

The patients, who were were aged between 44 and 77 years, were randomly assigned to receive the intervention Mediterranean diet, consisting of plant foods, whole grains, and olive oil, or their usual diet for 12 weeks, followed by a crossover to the alternative diet for a further 12 weeks.

Body composition, markers of glycemic control, lipid levels, and biomarkers of dietary adherence, such as plasma carotenoid and fatty acid (FA) levels, were assessed at the end of both dietary periods.

The Mediterranean diet appeared to improve glycemic control, with glycated hemoglobin levels falling from 7.1% when patients consumed their usual diet to 6.8% when they consumed the Mediterranean diet (p=0.012).

Diet quality also improved, as illustrated by an increase in the patients' plant to animal food ratio, from an average 1.3 on the usual diet to 5.4 after 12 weeks on the Mediterranean diet (p<0.001).

The patients' mean body mass index (BMI) and homeostasis model assessment of insulin sensitivity (HOMA) score also improved, from 30.3 kg/m2 and 6.1, respectively, when they consumed their usual diet to 30.0 kg/m2 and 5.2, respectively, after 12 weeks on the Mediterranean diet.

Of note, the patients' lipid profiles also improved while on the Mediterranean diet, with a 15% increase in monounsaturated FAs (p=<0.001) and a 17% decrease in trans and saturated FAs (p=0.001) compared with during their normal diet.

Writing in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, Itsiopoulos et al conclude: "Despite major differences from their usual diet, subjects reported very positively both on their enjoyment of the Mediterranean-type diet and on how well they felt while consuming this diet."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Lauretta Ihonor

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