Studies over the last few years have shown that a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil can be linked to the prevention of type 2 diabetes by improving blood sugar levels, insulin resistance and blood lipid levels.
While traditionally a low fat diet was thought to prevent various diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, more recent studies have shown that it is not the amount of fat but rather the type of fat. High consumption of saturated fat in one’s diet increases the risk of certain diseases such as cancer and diabetes yet monounsaturated fats, such as those found in olives and olive oil, actually protects from many of these chronic diseases.
Diabetes is one of the major health problems in developed countries, and the sixth highest cause of death. It is a metabolic disease and can cause many complications that seriously damage health, such as cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure, blindness, peripheral circulation disorders, etc.
There are two types of diabetes, namely: type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetes, found in children and teenagers, and type 2 or non-insulin-dependent diabetes, which appears in adulthood, generally from the age of 40 onwards. Insulin is required to control the first type while the second, more frequent type is generally associated with obesity and does not call for insulin treatment. Type 2 diabetes is associated with a sedentary lifestyle and bad diet, it can be managed by improving diet and activity.
An olive-oil-rich diet is has been found to be a good alternative in the treatment of diabetes and it may also help to prevent or delay the onset of the disease. It manages this by preventing insulin resistance and its possible pernicious implications by raising HDL-cholesterol, lowering triglycerides, and ensuring better blood sugar level control and lower blood pressure.
According to a recent Spanish study published in the scientific journal Diabetes Care revealed that a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil reduces the risk of type two diabetes by almost 50 percent compared to a low fat diet.
The study included 418 participants who did not have diabetes. Each participant was randomly assigned to either a low fat diet, a Mediterranean diet with olive oil (up to 1 litre a week) or a Mediterranean diet with nuts (30 grams a day). After 4 years 17.9 percent of the individuals following the low fat diet developed diabetes, while only 10 percent of the participants following the Mediterranean with olive oil diet developed the disease. When the two different groups (olive oil and nut groups) were pooled and compared with the low fat group, diabetes incidence was reduced by 52 percent.
What is also very notable in the findings of the study is the fact the reduction of diabetes risk was not affected by changes in body weight or physical activity and that the Mediterranean diets that were followed were not calorie restricted.