Diets lean on meat and rich in healthy fats like olive oil were most effective at promoting weight loss and lowering blood sugar among people with diabetes in a review of evidence from the last 10 years.
Benefits were also seen with diets low in carbohydrates, high in protein or low in simple sugars.
"If you look at different types of diets, these four can improve various aspects of diabetes control," lead author Dr. Olubukola Ajala, a diabetes specialist at Western Sussex Hospitals in the UK, told Reuters Health.
More than 24 million Americans have type 2 diabetes. People with the disease cannot store glucose in their cells effectively, and their blood sugar levels can go dangerously high. Lifestyle changes like weight loss and cutting calorie intake can improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of complications from the disease, but it has not been clear which diet plans work best.
Ajala and her colleagues reviewed the results of 20 studies comparing the effect of seven popular diets on adults with type 2 diabetes. Mediterranean diets, low-carb diets, high-protein diets and low glycemic index diets - which rank foods by how quickly their carbs turn into glucose - all lowered participants' blood sugar.
After following the diet for at least six months, the people on a Mediterranean eating plan also lost an average of 4 pounds. No other diet had a significant impact on weight, according to the findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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