Mediterranean Diet in Type 2 Diabetes

More than 530 million people worldwide are living with type 2 diabetes (T2D), and tens of millions more are at risk.  The hallmarks of T2D include high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), overproduction of sugar from the liver, and insulin resistance. Obesity is a major risk factor for T2D. Unmanaged T2D can lead to complications such as chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease,

Diabetes associations around the world suggest dietary modifications as a part of the T2D management plan. One of the diet recommendations from the American Diabetes Association is the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet consists of fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, olive oil, grilled poultry or seafood, 1-2 glasses red wine. Consumption of red meat, dairy, and eggs may be limited. 

Clinical Evidence

A large study involving 13,380 graduates from a Spanish university who were followed for approximately 4 years showed that those who adhered the closest to the Mediterranean diet had an 83% lower risk of developing T2D.

An evaluation of 2568 patients from 57 diabetes clinics with an average age of 62. The study found that high adherence to the Mediterranean diet led to significant decreases in HbA1c (a test which estimates your blood sugar level over the past 2-3 months), cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index. 

Another 5 clinical studies demonstrated that adherence to the Mediterranean diet led to 7 to 40 mg/dL decreases in fasting blood glucose and 0.1 to 0.6% reductions in HbA1c. 

These and other studies highlight the clinical benefits of close adherence to the Mediterranean diet as part of one’s type 2 diabetes management plan. The diet must be customized to individual caloric and nutrient needs.

Resources and References

The websites listed below offer helpful recipe ideas.

Abascal K, Yarnell E. Using bitter melon to treat diabetes. Alternative & Complementary Therapies. 2005 Aug 1;11(4):179-84.

Reynaldo R, Ricardo F. An inquiry into the hypoglycemic action of Momordica charantia among type 2 diabetic patients. Philippine Journal of Internal Medicine 2001;39:213–216.


Benson G, Pereira RF, Boucher JL. Rationale for the Use of a Mediterranean Diet in Diabetes Management. Diabetes Spectrum. 2011 Feb 1;24(1):36-40.

Chester B, Babu JR, Greene MW, Geetha T. The effects of popular diets on type 2 diabetes management. Diabetes/metabolism Research and Reviews. 2019 Nov;35(8):e3188.

Martínez-González MÁ, De la Fuente-Arrillaga C, Nunez-Cordoba JM, Basterra-Gortari FJ, Beunza JJ, Vazquez Z, Benito S, Tortosa A, Bes-Rastrollo M. Adherence to Mediterranean diet and risk of developing diabetes: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2008 Jun 12;336(7657):1348-51.

Vitale M, Masulli M, Calabrese I, Rivellese AA, Bonora E, Signorini S, Perriello G, Squatrito S, Buzzetti R, Sartore G, Babini AC. Impact of a Mediterranean dietary pattern and its components on cardiovascular risk factors, glucose control, and body weight in people with type 2 diabetes: a real-life study. Nutrients. 2018 Aug 10;10(8):1067.