The PREDIMED Study (Effects of the Mediterranean diet on the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases) recently reached a new milestone in researching the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and health. In an article published in the January 5th, 2014 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine entitled "Prevention of Diabetes with Mediterranean Diets", researchers show, with sound scientific data, that this diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil helps prevent diabetes, "the epidemic of the 21st century", according to PREDIMED coordinator Dr. Ramón Estruch.
Of the 7,447 people enrolled in the study, "3,541 of them did not have diabetes when they were recruited. During the almost five-year-long research period, participants were analyzed annually to see who developed diabetes. The study confirmed that the participants in the group eating a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil presented a 40% decline in diabetes risk compared with the control group, which ate a low-fat diet". It's worth noting that the latter is the diet that is usually prescribed to people with cardiovascular risk which, according to Estruch, further highlights the findings in this study.
Says Estruch: "Everyone has been surprised by the power of the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and risk factors and, in this case, diabetes." Although this trial didn't study the mechanisms responsible for the protective effect, previous analyses under PREDIMED suggest that the Mediterranean diet "increases sensitivity to insulin" secreted by the pancreas, "although there's still considerable work to be done in this area".
PREDIMED researchers are currently working to identify the degree to which this specific diet prevents the appearance of certain types of cancer.
Estruch also announced that the PREDIMED study will continue under the name PREDIMED Plus. "We want to see if a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil is also useful in treating overweight and obese people. There has always been the idea that olive oil leads to weight gain, and we want to show that a proper diet which includes extra virgin olive oil will help people lose weight while also preventing heart attacks and strokes", he adds.