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New view of fatty foods in diabetics' diets.

New view of fatty foods in diabetics' diets

Patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) traditionally take dietary advice with a grain of salt. For years, they've heard researchers present conflicting conclusions about the ideal balance of dietary carbohydrates and fats. Research released this week contradicts anew some current recommendations of the American Diabetes Association. While the study is deemed "preliminary" by its authors, their findings suggest the need for a much larger clinical trial to settle the issue.

Weight loss and dietary modification are the cornerstones of therapy for patients with NIDDM, who have abnormalities in both glucose and lipid metabolism and are at increased risk of heart disease. The American Diabetes Association recommends a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fats to lower blood levels of low-density lipoproteins, a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. In part to make up for the loss of calories from such a diet, it also recommends a high intake of complex carbohydrates, including beans and grains. But new research suggests these patients might be better off replacing saturated fats not with carbohydrates but with monounsaturated fats such as olive oil.

Abhimanyu Garg and his colleagues at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas compared various measures of diabetic health--including blood sugar levels, insulin requirements and levels of "good" and "bad" cholesterol subtypes--in 10 NIDDM patients whose diets were strictly controlled over a 10-week period in a metabolic-monitoring hospital ward. Compared with the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet currently recommended, a diet low in carbohydrates and high in monounsaturated fat produced significantly better control of blood sugar levels and a superior balance of cholesterol subtypes, they report. The research appears in the Sept. 29 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE.
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Author:Weiss, Rick
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 1, 1988
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