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The best diets for diabetes: what they include


A recent study found benefits to adopting a plant-based diet. Also, the 5 best diets according to a ranking of experts.

Type 2 diabetes is the most frequent (9 out of 10 correspond to it) and it is on the rise worldwide and at ever younger ages.

This acceleration is mainly driven by a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle,

two modifiable factors



changes in the diet and moving more

are not only key measures to prevent the disease in healthy people, but they are pillars of treatment -in addition to medications- in those who already live with diabetes, which in Argentina is one in eight adults ( 12.7% of the adult population, according to the latest National Survey of Risk Factors).

And although nutritional consultation favors the design of a personalized approach that takes into account the prescribed therapy and the individual characteristics of each patient, there are certain

general dietary guidelines

- common to different diets or eating patterns - that have proven to be beneficial in studies carried out in large populations.

plant-based diet

One such work was led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, United States.

He concluded that following a low-carb diet made up

primarily of plant-based foods

was significantly associated with a lower risk of premature death among people with type 2 diabetes.

This is the first prospective cohort study to examine the relationship between this type of diet and mortality among people with diagnosed type 2 diabetes.

(N.E.: A prospective cohort study follows a group of individuals who are alike in many ways, but differ in some characteristic—for example, eating a low-carbohydrate, plant-based diet - and they are compared for a particular result -risk of premature death-).


avoiding refined and highly processed carbohydrates

has been widely recommended to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, our study provides the first empirical evidence on how low-carbohydrate diets can help control the progression of existing diabetes. "said Yang Hu, lead author of the paper published in Diabetes Care. 

Yang Hu's team analyzed health data collected over

34 years

from more than 7,000 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study and nearly 3,000 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study who developed type 2 diabetes after that both studies began.

Participants completed lifestyle and medical history questionnaires every two years, allowing researchers to assess the composition of their diets and rank them based on intake of animal protein and fat, vegetable protein and fat, high-quality carbohydrates, and carbohydrates from low quality.

The findings showed a 24% reduction in


mortality among those following a low-carb dietary pattern.

But the findings don't end there: The health benefits were greatest with low-carb diets that emphasized plant-based foods and high-quality carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables,

and whole grains


And the benefits extended beyond treating diabetes: Those diets were also associated with lower mortality from

cardiovascular disease and cancer


In addition, the researchers observed the greatest health benefits among people who adhered to other healthy habits, such as

not smoking

, exercising regularly, and moderate alcohol intake (if they did drink).

"This study once again underscores the importance of diet quality

when choosing among various diets

for the control and management of diabetes," concluded Qi Sun, also lead author of the paper and an associate professor in the Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology.

Plant-based diets are friendly to health and the planet.

Photo Shutterstock.

Five best diets for diabetes, according to a ranking of experts

With that objective (choosing the best diets for the control and management of diabetes), US News magazine convened

more than 30 experts

(nutritionists, doctors and epidemiologists) who analyzed and classified 24 popular diets.

Based on the review of scientific evidence, the panel "identified those that are

most effective for people living with diabetes

," explains the publication, which also includes other rankings, such as better overall diets, best diets for weight loss , among other.

Regardless of the ranking in question, the first positions usually alternate almost always the same.

In the case of the best diets for diabetes, the podium is made up of three classic health allies: the

DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet, and the flexitarian diet


And the top 5 is completed by Ornish and MIND.

Fruits and vegetables are mainstays of all healthy diets.

Photo File.

1. DASH diet

Best Diet for Diabetes: 4.5/5 Overall Score: 4.4/5 Healthy: 4.5/5

The DASH diet is promoted by the United States National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to prevent and/or improve control of another highly prevalent cardiovascular risk factor: hypertension.

But, according to the panel of experts that evaluated it for the US News Best Diets 2023 ranking, its benefits extend to the general population (it ranks second among the best diets in general, behind the Mediterranean) and, therefore, to specific groups, such as people living with diabetes.

"It doesn't tell you that you have to eliminate food groups, but it gives you guidelines on

how many servings per week

you should ideally consume," nutritionist Lindsey Pine explains in a US News & World Report article.

He adds that it is "more than just an eating pattern to lower blood pressure and offers many additional benefits for


health , similar to the Mediterranean diet."

The recommended servings from each food group based on a 2,000 calorie per day plan are:


between 6 and 8 servings a day.

One serving equals 1 slice of bread, about 30 grams of dry cereal, or 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta.


between 4 and 5 servings a day.

One serving equals 1 cup of raw leafy greens or 1/2 cup of raw or cooked cut-up vegetables, or 1/2 cup of vegetable juice.


between 4 and 5 servings a day.

One serving equals one medium fruit;

1/2 cup of fresh, frozen or canned fruit;

or 1/2 cup of fruit juice.

✔ Low-fat or fat-free


: 2 to 3 servings a day.

One serving equals 1 cup of milk or yogurt or about 40 grams of cheese.

✔ Lean


, poultry and fish: Two servings or less per day.

One serving equals about 30 grams of cooked lean red meat, poultry, or fish, or 1 egg.

Nuts, seeds and legumes

: between 4 and 5 servings a week.

One serving equals 1/3 cup of nuts, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of seeds, or 1/2 cup of cooked legumes.

Fats and oils

: between 2 and 3 servings a day.

One serving equals 1 teaspoon of soft margarine, 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise, or 2 tablespoons of salad dressing.

Sweets and added sugars

: 5 servings or less per week.

One serving equals 1 tablespoon of sugar or jam.

In this note you can find tips to put together the shopping list of the DASH Diet.

Legumes should also be part of a balanced menu.

Photo: Shutterstock.

2. Mediterranean diet

Best Diet for Diabetes: 4.4/5 Overall Score: 4.6/5 Healthy: 4.6/5

It is the "champion" of diets and, in fact, it is considered a lifestyle rather than a diet.

UNESCO declared it Intangible Heritage of Humanity and the World Health Organization promotes it based on the evidence of its health benefits, reported in

numerous studies


According to these works, the Mediterranean diet helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and plays a protective role against cancer and cognitive decline, while promoting a longer life and a better quality of life.

Some guidelines for following the Mediterranean diet are:

✔ Fill your plate with a wide range of foods.

✔ Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and use

olive oil

, herbs and spices every day.

✔ Eat fish and shellfish at least twice a week.

✔ Poultry (such as chicken), eggs, cheese and yogurt can be eaten in moderation.

✔ Red meat and sweets should only be consumed occasionally.

✔The occasional glass of red wine is acceptable.


physically active

is another of the keys to the Mediterranean lifestyle.

In this note you can read how to adapt the Mediterranean diet to the Argentine table and in this specialist answer why it is so good for health.

Flexitarians eat foods of animal origin, but in small amounts.

3. Flexitarian diet

Best diet for diabetes: 4.2/5 Overall score: 4.4/5 Healthy: 4.3/5

To follow this type of diet, the slogan is to be vegetarian most of the time.

Why most of the time?

Because the option of eating meat occasionally

is contemplated


More and more studies add evidence in favor of this type of diet that restricts the consumption of meat (especially red).

Research shows that they help improve overall health by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

And, in addition, they are

friendly to the environment


"The focus is: eat more plants and be

flexible instead of strict

," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, who coined the term flexitarianism in 2009.

Tips for adopting a flexitarian diet:

✔ Prioritize proteins that do not come from meat, such as those provided by legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), eggs, soybeans or quinoa, for example.

✔I included fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and condiments.

Gradually reduce meat portions

and increase meat-free days per week during each stage.

You can also replace traditional meat with plant-based alternatives, like veggie burgers).

In an article published in the journal Nature in 2018, a group of researchers calculated the options that could keep food production within the limits of sustainability from now until 2050 and developed flexitarian consumption guidelines that include:

✔At least

half a kilo per day of fruits and vegetables

of different colors and groups (the composition of which is determined by regional preferences).

✔ At least 100 grams per day of

plant-based protein sources

(legumes, soybeans and nuts).

✔Half a daily serving of animal protein, such as poultry, fish, milk and eggs.

✔ A daily portion of dairy products.

Limited amounts of red meat

(maximum one serving per week), refined sugar (less than 5% of total energy), vegetable oils high in saturated fat, and starchy foods with a relatively high glycemic index.

In this note you can read the benefits of incorporating a flexitarian diet and in this 13 recommendations to follow a plant-based diet.

4. Ornish Diet 

Best Diet for Diabetes: 4.1/5 Overall Score: 3.6/5 Healthy: 3.8/5

The fourth place in the ranking of the best diets for diabetes prepared by US News Best Diets 2023 is occupied by the Ornish Diet.

An article published on the same site explains that it is a low-fat eating style that was developed in 1977 by Dean Ornish, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and founder of the Institute for Preventive Medicine.

Like the previous ones (DASH, Mediterranean, and Flexitarian), it encourages the consumption of a variety of plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

However, unlike them,

it does not admit the consumption of meat, fish or poultry


Yes, the consumption of dairy products and eggs, which is why it is also known as a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet approach, states in the same article Sarah Schlichter, one of the nutritionists who was part of the panel of experts who evaluated the 24 diets.

The diet classifies foods into five groups, from the healthiest (group one) to the least healthy (group five).

And it is considered one of the four key components of the pillars of the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program.

The others are

stress management, fitness, love

(the idea that social connections with others and joy are integral to good health), and

social support


The MIND diet combines DASH and Mediterranean guidelines.

Photo Shutterstock.

5. MIND Diet

Best Diet for Diabetes: 4/5 Overall Score: 4.3/5 Healthy: 4/5

The MIND diet combines aspects of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.

An article from the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, United States) specifies 15 guidelines for following the MIND diet:

✔ At least three servings of whole grains a day.

✔ Green leafy vegetables (like salad) at least six times a week.

✔ Other vegetables at least once a day.

✔ Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberry, blackberry) at least twice a week.

✔ Red meat less than four times a week.

✔ Fish at least once a week.

✔ Poultry at least twice a week.

✔ Legumes more than three times a week.

✔ Nuts at least five times a week.

✔ Fried or fast food less than once a week.

✔ Mainly olive oil for cooking.

✔ Less than a tablespoon of butter or margarine a day.

✔ Less than a slice of cheese a week.

✔ Less one portion of candy a week.

✔ No more than one glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage a day.

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look too

Magnesium: the best way to incorporate it, how to know if you have a deficiency and who should take supplements

Obesity: from changing habits to drugs and surgery, the alternatives to treat it, explained by specialists

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-03-15

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