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Diet to ward off diabetes

Sticking to the so-called DASH diet may protect adults from developing type 2 diabetes.

Diet to ward off diabetes

Sticking to the so-called DASH diet may protect adults from developing type 2 diabetes.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is high in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains, resulting in high potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber consumption. It is also moderately high in protein consumption, and low in total and saturated fat consumption.

It's been shown that the DASH can reduce blood pressure, but less is known about the potential influence of this dietary pattern on diabetes development even though intervention studies have shown that in addition to a blood pressure–lowering effect, the DASH diet has beneficial effects on total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, insulin sensitivity, and weight management.

To investigate the impact of DASH on diabetes management, researchers from Columbia, studied 862 adults participating in a clinical trial. About one in six of them developed type 2 diabetes over the five years of study follow-up.

Participants were graded according to their DASH score into three adherence tertiles, with an average score of 38.4, 49.5, and 60.2 in tertiles 1, 2, and 3, respectively. The researchers found that overall there was a weak, but not statistically significant, inverse association between DASH score and incidence of Type 2 diabetes. However, when stratified by ethnicity, compared with those in tertile 1, White participants in tertile 3 had a significant 69% reduced risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, but no such risk reduction was observed for Black or Hispanic individuals. Thus, sticking to the DASH diet was found to offer some protection against the development of type 2 diabetes.

The composition of the DASH diet pattern with its emphasis on vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, and whole grains and its limits on meat, poultry, eggs, fats, and oils certainly makes this a likely candidate for diabetes prevention. The above findings are consistent with other studies suggesting a beneficial effect of increased dairy, whole grain, and nuts on diabetic risk. The relatively small sample size of this study may have been a limiting factor and  further investigation is warranted to assess the role of DASH.

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