The Mediterranean diet is popular in the diabetes community, as it’s been shown in numerous studies to help improve blood glucose control, reduce the need for medication, and reduce systematic inflammation in people with diabetes.

Now, a study is showing the Mediterranean diet may not only help those with diabetes control their condition, but could also help those with metabolic syndrome reverse their condition and help reduce their chances of heart problems.

Metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms that increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other health problems. In order to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, you must have at least three of the following:

• Excess fat in the stomach area
• A high triglyceride level
• A low HDL cholesterol level
• High blood pressure
• High fasting blood sugar

Metabolic syndrome is a serious problem. Those diagnosed are two times more likely to develop heart disease and five times more likely to develop diabetes. Other factors involved in metabolic syndrome are obesity, lack of physical activity, insulin resistance, genetics, and old age.

How the Mediterranean diet may help

A study followed participants over approximately five years to research the long-term effects of the Mediterranean diet on metabolic syndrome. Out of those who followed the Mediterranean diet compared to those who did not, 28 percent saw a reversal of metabolic syndrome. Participants in the study who ate a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil also showed a decrease in obesity and lowered their fasting blood glucose.

Eating a Mediterranean diet

What do you eat if you want to eat as the Mediterraneans do and possibly reverse your metabolic syndrome? Here a few tips for getting the most from this diet:

  1. Use olive oil instead of butter and margarine. Olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated fats and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  2. Increase your veggie intake. Aim for three to eight servings of vegetables a day, and be sure to eat a variety to get a wide range of antioxidants and vitamins.
  3. Eat whole grains such as quinoa, barley, and oatmeal.
  4. Swap out red meats for skinless chicken or turkey, fish, beans, and nuts.
  5. Snack on a handful of nuts or a low-fat yogurt rather than a processed snack food.
  6. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit with a little sugar sprinkled on top.

If you have metabolic syndrome, the Mediterranean diet is one way to start leading a healthier life—making these few simple changes to your diet can make a vast improvement in your overall well-being.