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Diabetes diets: is the Mediterranean diet a good choice?

A Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil has long been touted as one of the healthiest around. Adding more toss to that salad, recently published research from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests Mediterranean-style eating can help people achieve and maintain healthy cholesterol levels, triglycerides levels, blood pressure levels and glucose metabolism. This means Mediterranean fare may be particularly healthy for people with diabetes.

So is this the "new perfect diet" for people with type 2 diabetes? The answer is complicated. While the Mediterranean diet and others like it are certainly healthy options for people with type 2 diabetes, there is no singular "best" diet for disease. The effectiveness of diabetes diets depend largely on the individual.

Type 2 diabetes diet guidelines

The dietary guidelines for people with type 2 diabetes appear very similar to the healthy eating guidelines that everyone should follow. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), your plate should include plenty of foods that are high in nutritional value, while low in fat and calories, such as the following:

  1. Fruits
  2. Vegetables
  3. Whole grains
  4. Dried beans
  5. Lean meats

The ADA also recommends fewer animal products and sweets, much like the lauded Mediterranean plan.

But hyper-focusing on "good" and "bad" foods isn't nearly as important as knowing what foods work for you. Learn how to count carbohydrates in the foods you eat. Regularly monitor, test and assess your blood sugar, so you know how your body reacts to certain foods.

The best diabetes diet advice comes from experts

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends trying to keep your eating habits healthy and consistent. Eating snacks and meals around the same time each day may help to avoid blood sugar swings, keep track of how much insulin you need, and when you need it. Work with your physician, a certified diabetes educator or dietitian that specializes in diabetes to work out a general eating plan suitable to your needs. Everyone is different and every day is different. So a one-size-fits-all diet, usually isn't your best bet.

You may need to adjust eating habits to suit your blood sugar levels, based on how active you are and other factors identified in conjunction with a physician. In the case of diabetes, to know thyself means to understand how your body responds and what actions to take, when blood sugar levels are in both ideal and less-than-ideal states.

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