There is evidence that reducing blood glucose concentrations, inducing weight loss, and improving the lipid profile reduces cardiovascular risk in people with type 2 diabetes.
We assessed the effect of various diets on glycemic control, lipids, and weight loss.
We conducted searches of PubMed, Embase, and Google Scholar to August 2011. We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with interventions that lasted ≥6 mo that compared low-carbohydrate, vegetarian, vegan, low–glycemic index (GI), high-fiber, Mediterranean, and high-protein diets with control diets including low-fat, high-GI, American Diabetes Association, European Association for the Study of Diabetes, and low-protein diets.
A total of 20 RCTs were included (n = 3073 included in final analyses across 3460 randomly assigned individuals). The low-carbohydrate, low-GI, Mediterranean, and high-protein diets all led to a greater improvement in glycemic control [glycated hemoglobin reductions of −0.12% (P = 0.04), −0.14% (P = 0.008), −0.47% (P < 0.00001), and −0.28% (P < 0.00001), respectively] compared with their respective control diets, with the largest effect size seen in the Mediterranean diet. Low-carbohydrate and Mediterranean diets led to greater weight loss [−0.69 kg (P = 0.21) and −1.84 kg (P< 0.00001), respectively], with an increase in HDL seen in all diets except the high-protein diet.
Low-carbohydrate, low-GI, Mediterranean, and high-protein diets are effective in improving various markers of cardiovascular risk in people with diabetes and should be considered in the overall strategy of diabetes management.