It's a huge health problem. Almost 15 million Americans have a form of diabetes, and recent trends point toward ever-greater numbers in the future. One of every ten dollars spent on health care in the United States is spent to treat diabetes - over $130 billion each year. Worldwide, over 170 million people suffer from diabetes.
In yet another nod to the oil of the olive, Australian researchers say a Mediterranean diet may protect diabetics from heart disease. Diabetes places individuals at greater risk of heart disease and stroke, and over 65% of diabetics die as a result of these two complications. So, take away the red meat, and bring on the fruits and veggies, the red wine and nuts - let the feast begin!
The researchers studied over 40,000 men and women between 40 and 69 years of age, following them for 10 years. They analyzed their consumption of Mediterranean foods through questionnaires. The results showed that those eating the highest proportion of Mediterranean foods fared best.
The study participants eating the most Mediterranean foods had a 30% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. The heart protective benefits were greatest for individuals with no history of cardiovascular disease, but also showed benefit for individuals with prior health problems.
On a side note, researchers had no explanation for the persistent shouts of "Opa!" by the high Mediterranean foods group.
To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about diabetes, see this from the American Diabetes Association. To read more about the health benefits of Mediterranean diets, see this from Mayo Clinic.