Mediterranean Diet Prevents Metabolic Syndrome
The Mediterranean diet is one of the oldest diets. Research is now finding that it is also one of the healthiest diets.
A study from Italy shows that the Mediterranean diet significantly improves metabolism, glycemia, insulin levels, C-reactive protein levels and body mass index.
All of these factors present the issues related to metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is symptomized by cardiovascular disease, being overweight and a tendency for type 2 diabetes.
The study followed 80 volunteers who were between 51 and 59 years old. They were randomly split into two groups, and one group ate the Mediterranean diet and the other ate a western diet. Before and after six months, the subjects underwent extensive testing.
After 25 weeks on the diet, the Mediterranean diet subjects had an average of 12.4% lower body mass index, 8.3% less weight, 9.2% lower fasting glycemia and 32% lower fasting insulin. The Med diet group also had 34% lower levels of C-reactive protein.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a marker for inflammation. High CRP levels indicate systemic inflammation, often accompanying the hardening of the arteries, also called atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease and a higher risk of heart disease and stroke in general.
What this means
Lower fasting glycemia levels means lower levels of blood sugar, related to a lower risk of diabetes.
Lower fasting insulin levels are also a marker that is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes.
The Mediterranean diet has a greater amount of fruits, vegetables, nuts, healthier oils and dairy. Red meats are kept minimally in the Med diet. Fish are a greater part of the Med diet than meats.
The diets of the Med diet group proved consistent with these in this study. The Med diet group showed 39% higher levels of fruit, 30% higher levels of vegetables, 18% higher cheese and 38% higher levels of fiber.
Panunzio MF, Caporizzi R, Antoniciello A, Cela EP, Ferguson LR, D’Ambrosio P. Randomized, controlled nutrition education trial promotes a Mediterranean diet and improves anthropometric, dietary, and metabolic parameters in adults. Ann Ig. 2011 Jan-Feb;23(1):13-25.