Choose a Mediterranean Menu for Better Blood Sugar

Research shows that following a Mediterranean-style eating pattern can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.

A bowl of creamy chick pea hummus with olive oil and pita chips.

Medically reviewed in August 2022

Updated on August 8, 2022

Research consistently shows that following a Mediterranean-style eating pattern can be good for your heart. But did you know that it may also help prevent type 2 diabetes?

Rich in vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, legumes, lean proteins, fish, and healthy fats like olive oil, the Mediterranean diet is tied to less insulin resistance and lower risk for type 2 diabetes. Additionally, it has been associated with lower inflammation and improved cholesterol levels.

Blood sugar benefits
How effective is eating Mediterranean? One study published in 2020 in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes examined the diets of almost 12,000 American men and women over the course of 22 years. Researchers found that those who stuck closest to a Mediterranean-style diet had up to a 17 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to those who didn’t follow it as closely. The association was strongest for Black people, for whom the risk of type 2 diabetes fell by up to 26 percent.

Another 2020 study of more than 25,000 American women in JAMA Network Open reached similar conclusions. In that case, adhering to a Mediterranean-style eating pattern was linked to 30 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes over 20 years. Reduced insulin resistance, less inflammation, and lower levels of abnormal cholesterol were all associated with the lower risk for type 2 diabetes.

Recipe corner
It doesn’t take a beach or ancient ruins to follow a Mediterranean diet. You can make Mediterranean-style food in your own kitchen. Try these easy and flavorful recipes:

You can also incorporate Mediterranean-friendly foods into your everyday eating plan. Start by slowly adding more fruits, veggies, and whole grains to each meal, and then work your way up from there.

Article sources open article sources

Martínez-González MA, Gea A, Ruiz-Canela M. The Mediterranean Diet and Cardiovascular Health. Circ Res. 2019 Mar;124(5):779-798.
O'Connor LE, Hu EA, Steffen LM, et al. Adherence to a Mediterranean-style eating pattern and risk of diabetes in a U.S. prospective cohort study. Nutr Diabetes. 2020 Mar 20;10(1):8.
Ahmad S, Demler OV, Sun Q, et al. Association of the Mediterranean Diet With Onset of Diabetes in the Women's Health Study. JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Nov 2;3(11):e2025466.
Meslier V, Laiola M, Roager HM, et al. Mediterranean diet intervention in overweight and obese subjects lowers plasma cholesterol and causes changes in the gut microbiome and metabolome independently of energy intake. Gut. 2020 Jul;69(7):1258-1268.

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