The Mediterranean Diet May Support Women’s Metabolic Health
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes healthy fats, like olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, as well as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. It has often been considered the healthiest and most sustainable diet, due to the fresh, flavorful, yet non-restrictive offerings.
Research has linked the diet to stress reduction, heart health, and now a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes—particularly for women. But how?
To find an association, researchers asked each participant to score their Med. diet intake from zero to nine: Higher numbers for fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and fish; mid-range for moderate alcohol intake; and low scores for red or processed meat.
To rule out underlying health conditions, they also measured vitals, like cholesterol, lipoproteins in the body, and insulin resistance.
Women who ate a Mediterranean diet at the beginning of the study developed type 2 diabetes at a 30% lower rate than those who didn’t. Those without insulin resistance were the least likely to be at risk of diabetes.
“Most of this reduced risk associated with the Mediterranean diet and type 2 diabetes was explained through the biomarkers related to insulin resistance, adiposity, lipoprotein metabolism, and inflammation,” Ahmad said in a news release. “This understanding may have important downstream consequences for the primary prevention of diabetes disease.”
That said, there are limitations to the research. For example, most women in the study were white and well educated, and all worked as health professionals, making for limited diversity in the research pool. Plus, the diet was self-reported and therefore, might not be as accurate.