Adhering to Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits and vegetables and low in animal products may protect from type 2 diabetes. The Mediterranean diet gives emphasis to olive oil, vegetables, fruits, nuts, cereals, legumes and fish and de–emphasizes meat and dairy products. It is a healthy eating plan that prevents heart disease.

In the study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers tracked the diets of 13,380 Spanish university graduates with no history of diabetes. The study participants filled out a 136–item food questionnaire, which measured their entire diet (including their intake of fats), their cooking methods and their use of dietary supplements. During an average of 4.4 years of follow–up, the researchers found that people who adhered to a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, those who very closely adhered to the diet reduced their risk by 83 percent.

Moreover, the people who tended to stick closest to the diet were those with factors that put them at the highest risk for developing diabetes, such as being older, having a family history of diabetes and being an ex–smoker. These people were expected to have a higher rate of diabetes, but when they adhered to the Mediterranean diet this was not the case.

Type 2 diabetes is typically brought on by poor eating habits, too much body weight and too little exercise. One key factor that might be responsible for the protective effect of the Mediterranean diet is its emphasis on olive oil for cooking, frying, putting on bread and mixing in salad dressings.

Tips to prevent diabetes

  • Eat less
  • Omit refined carbohydrates (white sugar, white rice and white maida)
  • Use olive oil, vegetables, fruits, nuts, cereals, legumes and fish, and reduce meat and dairy products.