Olive oil
Following a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil helps prevent diabetes.redwood 1/Flickr

Following a Mediterranean diet can help fight diabetes, a new study says.

Diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes and supplemented with olive oil was found highly effective - than low-fat diet - in preventing diabetes among people who were at a higher risk of developing heart diseases. Interestingly, the diet alone, without the help of any other types of interventions like vigorous physical activity or calorie restriction, was found effectively lowering the risk of the disease.

"Randomized trials have shown that lifestyle interventions promoting weight loss can reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes, however, whether dietary changes without calorie restriction or increased physical activity also protect from diabetes development has not been evaluated in the past," lead author of the study Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvado, professor of nutrition at Rovira i Virgili University, told Reuters Health.

For the study, a team of Spanish researchers - led by Salas-Salvado - looked at 3,541 people, both men and women, aged between 55 and 80. All of them were non-diabetic but were at greater cardiovascular risk.

Participants were divided into three groups, according to the type of diet they received - Mediterranean diet supplemented either with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or mixed nuts and low-fat diet. During the four-year follow-up, 273 participants were diagnosed with diabetes. Incidence of diabetes was higher among the low-fat diet group (101) than the other two (mediterranean diet - 80, mixed nuts - 92).

Results showed that following a Mediterranean diet regularly can help lower the risk of developing diabetes by 30 percent, Reuters reported.

"A Mediterranean diet enriched with EVOO but without energy restrictions reduced diabetes risk among persons with high cardiovascular risk," the authors, wrote while concluding their study.

The study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, support a study that appeared in the journal Diabetologia in August. The 11-year study of 22,295 adults showed 12 percent reduced risk of diabetes associated with the Mediterranean diet.

Mediterranean diet is a nutritional concept that promotes healthy eating by encouraging consumption of more fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and healthy fat and also moderate consumption of wine. The diet also encourages consumption of olive oil.

Countless studies in the past have highlighted the importance of Mediterranean diet in fighting other types of deadly diseases.

A 2001 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology provided ample evidence to prove the role of Mediterranean diet in preventing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical disorders like obesity, high blood pressure that occur together and increases the risk for coronary artery disease, diabetes and stroke.