Study Compares Keto and Mediterranean Diets for Diabetes

Either a low-carbohydrate ketogenic (keto) diet or a Mediterranean diet may be beneficial when it comes to blood glucose control for people with diabetes, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

A Mediterranean diet — based on certain healthy eating patterns found in the Mediterranean region — is often recommended for people with diabetes. Studies have shown that following a Mediterranean diet may help prevent cardiovascular events like a heart attack or stroke, and that it could help improve kidney function. A “green” Mediterranean diet containing a high level of green, leafy vegetables and antioxidants has also been shown to be especially beneficial, potentially boosting metabolic health and limiting age-related brain shrinkage. So it’s no surprise that the Mediterranean diet was named by a panel of experts as the best diet for people with diabetes in 2022.

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A low-carb ketogenic (keto) diet, on the other hand, is more controversial — both in general and more specifically for people with diabetes. Some experts worry that a keto diet can lack important nutrients, especially fiber, and that it may be unsustainable for many people. A keto diet may also carry substantial health risks, especially for people with kidney disease or who are pregnant. But its benefits may include weight loss and better blood glucose control.

For the latest study, researchers compared two specific diets — one based on a Mediterranean diet, the other one a type of keto diet — in 40 participants with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, with 33 participants completing the study. Both diets emphasized nonstarchy vegetables and avoiding added sugars and refined grains. But the Mediterranean diet incorporated legumes (such as beans and peas), fruits, and whole unprocessed grains (not ground into flour), while the keto diet emphasized avoiding these foods.

The researchers were interested in the effect of following each diet on blood glucose control,…

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