Vegetarian eating is an excellent way to prevent diabetes or to manage it if it occurs. Although a vegetarian diet remains an excellent diet for diabetes, most people prefer to have some animal protein in their diets — for taste, variety, and convenience. The Mediterranean diet fulfills all these criteria and more.
The first big study confirming the benefits of the Mediterranean diet was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in December 2007. It showed a significant reduction in deaths from all causes.
More recently, in a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in January 2014, patients who followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil had a significant reduction in the onset of diabetes compared to a control group who were just given advice on a low-fat diet.
Another study, published in Diabetologica in December 2013, confirmed the advantages of the Mediterranean diet. These are just a few of the many studies pointing to the effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet in preventing or managing diabetes.
What are the major features of the Mediterranean diet? The diet emphasizes the following:
Plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts
Olive oil in place of butter or margarine
Herbs and spices to flavor foods instead of salt
Red meat no more often than twice a month
Fish and/or poultry twice a week
Alcohol in moderation (5 ounces of red wine daily for all women and men over 65 years and 10 ounces for men younger than 65)
People with a family history of alcohol abuse or heart or liver disease should not drink any alcohol.
How can you get started without moving to Greece? Here are some suggestions:
Make sure that most of your meal and snacks are made up of fruits and vegetables, preferably unprocessed and whole. If you eat bread or cereal, make sure it’s whole grain. The same is true for rice and pasta.
Skip butter and use olive oil on bread or pasta instead. Tahini (blended sesame seeds) is another great alternative to butter.
Eat a handful of almonds, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts for a delicious snack.
Add herbs and spices to flavor your foods.
Grill or bake fish instead of frying or breading it. Especially good for you are tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, and herring, fresh or in cans.
If you eat dairy, opt for low-fat options like skim milk, fat-free yogurt, and low-fat cheese.
The food that you find in Italian chain restaurants across the United States is not Mediterranean food. They use a lot of butter, full-fat cheese, cream sauce, meat, and white-flour pasta among other non-Mediterranean foods. So, don’t think you’re eating Mediterranean just because the restaurant serves pasta.