Good Fats Research

Type 2 Diabetes

An analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found a Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer.

Researchers reviewed data from 53 studies that examined the health effects of the Mediterranean diet. The studies were controlled trials of 100 or more persons who were followed for at least one year. Cohort studies for cancer outcomes also were included. The analysis found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 30%, had a 29% lower risk of heart disease and a 57% reduced risk of breast cancer. No apparent effects on all-cause mortality were observed. Researchers highlighted the need for more research on the relationship between breast cancer and the Mediterranean Diet, since only one randomized trial involving breast cancer was included in the analysis.

A review in PLOS Medicine found replacing carbohydrates with unsaturated fats from vegetable oils, nuts and soybeans can lower the risk of diabetes.

After evaluating 102 randomized controlled trials involving a total of 4,660 subjects, researchers concluded that substituting approximately 100 calories of unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fats, for 100 calories of carbohydrates resulted in lower blood sugar levels and improved insulin resistance and secretion. Based on associations between markers of glycemic control and development of diabetes or heart disease, the researchers also estimated that replacing 5% of calories from carbohydrates or saturated fats with unsaturated fats could lead to a 22% lower risk of diabetes and reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases by nearly 7%.

New parents may be at higher risk for chronic disease, a recent study shows. According to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, new parents tend to eat more saturated fat than people who aren’t parents, placing them at higher risk for developing obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease, and Type 2 Diabetes. The lead author cites convenience foods as the primary culprit, due to the time constraints and stress of parenthood. Overall, diets of parents and non-parents remained fairly similar throughout the seven-year study, with the exception of saturated fat.

In a study in Diabetes Care, researchers found that a low carbohydrate, high fat diet resulted in greater reduction in type 2 diabetes risk factors.

In this 24-week randomized controlled trial, 93 overweight/obese adults with type 2 diabetes were selected for one of two diets: A low carbohydrate diet [14% carbohydrates, 28% protein, 58% fat (35% MUFA, 13% PUFA)] or a high carbohydrate diet [53% carbohydrate, 17% protein, <30% fat (15% MUFA, 9% PUFA)]. Saturated fat was limited to <10% in both diets, and participants attended 60-minute exercise classes three days per week. Although both groups experienced similar results in weight loss, blood pressure and fasting blood glucose, the low carbohydrate, high fat group had greater reductions in triglycerides, greater increases in HDL-C, greater reductions in HbA1C and greater reduction in use of type 2 diabetes medications.

A low glycemic diet supplemented with canola oil may improve glycemic control, according to a study published in Diabetes Care.

This randomized controlled trial included 141 subjects with type 2 diabetes. For three months, the intervention group followed a low glycemic diet that was supplemented with a canola oil-enriched bread, while the control group followed a high fiber diet and was given a whole wheat bread supplement. Fifty-five and 64 subjects in the intervention and control groups completed the study, respectively. Results showed that the low-glycemic group had a greater improvement in glycemic control, and the change was even greater in those who had elevated systolic blood pressure. Both groups experienced improvements in cardiovascular factors.

Research published in Diabetes suggests that the type of fatty acid consumed may affect the body’s tendency to store fat or build muscle.

For seven weeks, 39 young, healthy, normal-weight men and women ate an extra 750 calories daily from a muffin made primarily with either sunflower oil (polyunsaturated fat) or palm oil (saturated fat). Before and after measurements of adipose and lean tissue were taken. While both muffin groups gained a similar amount of weight, the saturated fat muffin group experienced an increase in both liver and visceral fat compared to the polyunsaturated fat muffin group, as well as activity in genes that regulate metabolism, insulin resistance, body composition and fat cell differentiation. The polyunsaturated fat muffin group also saw a three-fold increase in muscle mass compared to the saturated fat group.

Although study authors say more research is needed, they indicate these results could be important for those with metabolic diseases such as diabetes, as well as the elderly for whom maintaining muscle mass is especially important.

Results from a sub-group analysis of the original PREDIMED trial show that simply adhering to the Mediterranean diet—in the absence of caloric restriction or supplemental exercise—can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

More than 3,500 people between the ages of 55 and 80 who were considered at high cardiovascular risk were randomized to follow either a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts or a low-fat control diet. After approximately 4 years of following the diets, results showed a 40% reduced risk of developing diabetes for the extra virgin olive oil diet compared to the low-fat control diet. Participants following the mixed nuts diet saw a non-statistically significant risk reduction of 18%. These results supplement those seen in the original PREDIMED trial, where both variations of the Mediterranean diet contributed to decreased risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event. Study authors concluded that a Mediterranean diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil but without energy restrictions can reduce diabetes risk among people with high cardiovascular risk.