The finding is based on 19 original studies reviewed systematically by the researchers where more than 162,000 people from different countries participated for an average of 5.5 years.
“Adherence to the Mediterranean diet may prevent the development of diabetes irrespective of age, sex, race or culture,” said Demosthenes Panagiotakos, lead investigator and 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 study, presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd annual scientific session recently, revealed that a Mediterranean diet was associated with a 21 percent reduced risk of diabetes as compared to other eating patterns.
The analysis also showed that the reduced risk of diabetes was even more pronounced among people at high risk for heart disease by almost 27 percent.
The Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy eating program, commonly emphasises fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil and other healthy fats.
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 number of diabetes cases worldwide has doubled in the past 30 years and this rise has been linked to the growing obesity epidemic.
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