Mediterranean diet cuts risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes

A Mediterranean-style diet may help reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a constellation of conditions that increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, according to a new study from a team of Greek researchers.

The finding that a Mediterranean diet improves cardiovascular and metabolic function is not exactly groundbreaking. Scientists have devoted a lot of time and attention to diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish throughout the years.

However, the new investigation is unique in that it quantifies the benefits to individual components of metabolic syndrome, which is defined as the presence of an extended waistline, high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels and poor blood sugar control.

For the study, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers from Harikopio University Athens examined the results of 50 previous investigations that looked into the benefits of a Mediterranean diet.

They found that, on average, individuals who ate this type of diet were 69 percent less likely to develop metabolic syndrome. Additionally, their waistlines were smaller by an average of .42 cm, triglycerides were lower by 6.14 mg/dl, systolic blood pressure was 2.35 mm/Hg lower, and blood sugar levels were reduced by 3.89 mg/dl.

"The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome is increasing rapidly throughout the world, in parallel with the increasing incidence of diabetes and obesity, and is now considered a major public health problem," said lead investigator Demosthenes Panagiotakos, who led the study. "Our results further demonstrate the protective role and the significance that lifestyle factors have."

He added that individuals who suffer from impaired metabolic function and who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes may benefit from adopting the diet.
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