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Olive Oil-Rich Mediterranean Diet Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetics

In a prospective study (one in which participants are chosen and then followed forward in time) involving 11 insulin-resistant adults (average age, 62; an average BMI of 32.6, and a waist circumference averaging 40.2 in men and 34.6 in women), following a Mediterranean-type diet rich in monounsaturated fats improved insulin sensitivity and lowered insulin and blood sugar levels after meals.

Subjects were randomly divided into 3 groups. In a crossover design, they followed 1 of 3 weight-maintenance diets for a period of 28 days each: 1) a diet rich in saturated fats (SAT); 2) a diet rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFA); 3) a diet rich in carbohydrates (CHO).

Although subjects consumed the same number of calories in all 3 diets, the CHO diet not only caused the highest increase in insulin and blood sugar levels after meals, but also a redistribution of body fat with an increase in abdominal fat. Researchers saw this as a key finding because central obesity (an apple-shaped body) is well known to promote insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

While the SAT diet did not preferentially cause an increase in abdominal fat, this diet resulted in higher fasting blood sugar levels that either the CHO or MUFA diets.Not only did the MUFA-rich diet prevent the redistribution of body fat to the abdomen seen on the CHO diet, but this olive oil-rich diet also improved insulin sensitivity and lowered both fasting and after meal blood sugar levels by increasing the expression of the adiponectin gene. Adiponectin instructs fat cells (adipocytes) to secrete the hormone adipokine, which increases cells' sensitivity to insulin. In the insulin-resistant subjects in this study, the CHO diet was also found to decrease adiponectin expression after meals. Your diet supplies not just calories but information. The instructions delivered to your cells by a Mediterranean-type diet rich in monounsaturated fat from olive oil and nuts will improve your sensitivity to insulin, lower your blood sugar, and help prevent fat from collecting around your middle. Diabetes Care. 2007 Jul;30(7):1717-23.

Paniagua JA, Gallego de la Sacristana A, Romero I, et al. Monounsaturated fat-rich diet prevents central body fat distribution and decreases postprandial adiponectin expression induced by a carbohydrate-rich diet in insulin-resistant subjects. Diabetes Care. 2007 Jul;30(7):1717-23. Epub 2007 Mar 23. PMID: 17384344