While thick crust pizzas, pasta and heaps of feta might not do wonders for the body, following a low carbohydrate Mediterranean diet just might.
Researchers from the University of Athens studied the long-term health of over 22,000 people living in Greece and found that those who ate mostly vegetables, fruit, fish, nuts and olive oil were 12% less likely to develop diabetes than those who followed a more ‘British’ diet.
A ‘British’ diet includes high levels of carbohydrate, meat and dairy. Researchers found that Greek people who ate a lot of carbohydrate were 21% more likely to develop diabetes.
Despite the clear health benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet, it is not thought to be linked to weight loss.
“This suggests that the protection of the Mediterranean diet against diabetes is not through weight control, but through several dietary characteristics of the Mediterranean diet,” the study’s authors said.
One theory is that it is the virgin olive oil in the diet that protects against diabetes. It is thought that the high ratio of mono-unsaturated fats to saturated fatty acids may be the key but further studies are needed.
So just how do you go about following a healthy Mediterranean diet?
Unlike the typical British diet, which involves processed foods, stodgy carbohydrates and large amounts of sugar (such as pies, ready meals and confectionary), the Mediterranean diet is for the most part simple, fresh and natural.
Here are some of the main principals:
- Eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible – including crunchy salads and tomato based sauces.
- Eat oily fish at least two times a week – including salmon, sardines and mackerel.
- Cut down on your meat intake.
- Cook with extra virgin olive oil instead of sunflower, animal or vegetable oil.
- Snack on nuts such as almonds and walnuts.
For more information about cutting down the risk of diabetes and to find a nutritionist near you, please visit our Diabetes page.
View and comment on the original Independent article.