Washington: Choose Mediterranean diet if you want to lower the risk of developing diabetes, especially if your physician considers you among the people at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
"Adherence to the Mediterranean diet may prevent the development of diabetes irrespective of age, sex, race or culture," said Demosthenes Panagiotakos, a professor at Harokopio University in Athens, Greece.
This diet has a beneficial effect, even in high risk groups, and speaks to the fact that it is never too late to start eating a healthy diet, he added.
The researchers systematically reviewed 19 original research studies that followed more than 162,000 participants for an average of 5.5 years.
The data showed that adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 21 percent reduced risk of diabetes as compared to the control dietary groups.
This reduced risk was even more pronounced among people at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
The analysis showed that patients in this subgroup were almost 27 percent less likely to develop diabetes compared to the control group.
While there is no set Mediterranean diet, it commonly emphasises fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish, olive oil and even a glass of red wine.
The number of diabetes cases has doubled worldwide in the past 30 years and has been linked to the growing obesity epidemic.
Earlier research has shown that following the traditional Mediterranean diet is also linked to weight loss, reduced risk of heart disease and related death, as well as lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
The research was presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd annual scientific session recently.