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The Mediterranean diet has many health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. New research suggests that the diet (which is high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fish) may also help boost the mental abilities and memory of people with type 2 diabetes.

In the study, published in May 2019 in Diabetes Care, researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston looked at two years’ worth of information, including eating habits and blood sugar levels, for 913 participants in the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study. Almost half of the participants had type 2 diabetes. All participants’ mental skills and memory were measured over the two years using tests such as word recognition, clock drawing, and remembering a series of numbers.

People with type 2 diabetes who more closely followed a Mediterranean diet had greater improvements in their mental skills and memory than people who did not follow the diet.

However, these benefits were limited to people who had well-controlled blood sugar at the start of the study or whose blood sugar control improved during the two-year study, say the researchers. Their conclusion? Following a Mediterranean diet and effectively managing blood sugar may support brain health for people with type 2 diabetes.

Did you know?

You can learn more about the Mediterranean diet in Diabetes Canada’s “The Mediterranean Diet: Is It Right for You?” webinar.

(This article appeared in Diabetes Dialogue, Autumn 2019)

Author: Elizabeth McCammon

Category Tags: Healthy Living, Research;

Region: National

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