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Mediterranean-Style Diet For Diabetics

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, December 17, 2008 10:55 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Protecting Your Family, Diet and Nutrition, Healthy Living, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Mediterranean Diet


IMAGE SOURCE:© Wikimedia Commons/ almonds in and out of shell/ author: Koyaanis Qatsi

Lentil soup and pasta may be the way to go if you have type 2 diabetes.

A new study finds a low-glycemic index diet is superior to a high-fiber diet at keeping blood sugar levels down.

Glycemic index, or GI, ranks carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. High-GI foods, such as potatoes and white bread, tend to cause blood sugar to surge, while low-GI foods, such as beans, lentils, nuts, pasta produce a steady increase in blood sugar.

The study involved 210 people with type 2 diabetes treated with anti-diabetes drugs who were randomly assigned to a low-GI diet or high-fiber diet for 6 months. The main outcome measured was the change in HbA1c in the blood, which reflects long-term glucose levels.

HbA1c levels fell 0.50 percent on the low-GI diet compared with only 0.18 percent on the high-fiber diet, Dr. David J.A. Jenkins, from the University of Toronto, and co-researchers report.

Also, levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels increased with the low-GI diet but they lowered with the high-fiber diet.

“Low-glycemic index diets may be beneficial as part of the strategy to improve glycemic control in diabetic patients taking glucose-lowering drugs,” researchers concluded.

“The findings reemphasize what we already know – a Mediterranean-type diet: nuts, lentils, fruits, beans and vegetables, is the best choice,” said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of Women and Heart Disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. "The study did not refer to the Mediterranean diet specifically, but, components of it were Mediterranean."

An estimated 8 percent of people in the U.S. have type-2 diabetes which can be associated with poor diet, obesity, and lack of exercise.

Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.

While many drugs are available to help stabilize blood sugar levels, evidence on how well they reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems is unclear, making a proper diet crucial to help control the disease.

The study, Effect of a Low–Glycemic Index or a High–Cereal Fiber Diet on Type 2 Diabetes, is published online in the December 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. #

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