Scientists from the Chalmers University of Technology and elsewhere found that eating a Mediterranean diet with a low glycemic index (GI) could lead to health benefits that can help prevent type 2 diabetes.
The research is published in Nutrients and was conducted by Thérése Hjorth et al.
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing globally, and the disease is strongly connected to an increased risk of developing heart disease.
In the study, the team examined how meal-related insulin sensitivity, so-called postprandial glycemia, was affected by a diet with high and low glycemic index, GI.
They tested 160 participants at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These people completed a 12-week dietary intervention assessing the effect of MED-HEP with a low versus high GI.
Participants consumed half of their daily carbohydrates as low GI foods such as pasta, brown rice, flat bread or high GI foods such as jasmine rice, potato, mashed potatoes, couscous along with fruits, vegetables and other carbohydrate rich foods that all consumed.
The team found blood sugar levels were lower after the meals with a low GI diet, compared to the high GI diet − and the difference between the groups increased with time.
However, the difference between the groups was mostly due to the high GI participants increasing their blood glucose after a meal, while the participants that ate a low GI showed the same level as the baseline.
This indicates that glucose levels are increasing after eating foods with a high GI for 12 weeks.
The study shows that GI affects glucose levels in the blood among non-diabetic people despite eating a healthy Mediterranean diet.
That is: a healthy diet (MED-HEP) does not compensate for a high GI diet, and one should therefore think about the carbohydrate quality of the food and choose foods with a low GI.
The team says as foods with low GI like pasta are part of a traditional Mediterranean diet, the low GI may be an important component in the Mediterranean diet’s health benefits.
Lowering glucose levels after a meal may be a strategy to reduce the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, as a meal-related blood sugar increase probably contributes to the development of the disease.
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