Diabetes: These diets reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes in women

Diabetes: These diets reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes in women

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These diets can help diabetics reduce their risk of heart attacks and strokes

Hundreds of millions of people worldwide have diabetes. So-called diabetes can result in numerous complications such as heart attacks or strokes. Researchers have now found that certain diets reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in women with diabetes. According to the authors, these results are probably also applicable to "other populations".

Health experts say women with diabetes are at higher risk of complications. Among other things, the disease makes them more susceptible to heart attacks. But the increased danger can be counteracted. A study has now shown that diets similar to the Mediterranean diet and the blood pressure-lowering DASH diet can help older women with type 2 diabetes to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Four different diets compared

As the American Heart Association (AHA) reports on its website, the new study focused on data from the Women's Health Initiative, a comprehensive long-term project to prevent diseases in postmenopausal women. The data included more than 5,800 women who developed diabetes as adults but did not report cardiovascular disease at the start of the project. Researchers evaluated women's detailed food questionnaires to determine how far their responses matched each of the four dietary patterns.

Three nutritional patterns - an "alternative" Mediterranean diet adapted to western tastes, the blood pressure-lowering DASH diet ("Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension") and recommendations from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) all recommend that more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, Eating legumes, whole grains and some dairy products, as well as less sugar and red and processed meat. The fourth pattern, a Paleolithic diet (paleo diet), on the other hand, focuses on meat, fruit, nuts, vegetables and other vegetables and advises against the consumption of cereals, dairy products, added sugar and alcohol.

The researchers found that approximately 11 percent of the women observed developed heart disease over an average of 12.4 years, and more than 6 percent had a stroke. According to the study, women whose diets came closest to the recommendations of the DASH diet developed 31 percent fewer cardiovascular problems than women who were least likely to do so. Those who most closely matched the recommendations in the ADA guide and the Mediterranean diet were 29 percent and 23 percent lower risk, respectively.

The study, recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found no association between a high Paleo score and a lower or higher risk.
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Healthy eating not only for people with diabetes

Studies on nutrition and heart health in people with type 2 diabetes are in short supply, the lead study author Andrew Odegaard said, because the recommendations for the diet of these patients are largely based on information from population groups without diabetes. "These results support the current recommendations for nutritional clinical practice in patients with type 2 diabetes as an approach to improve cardiovascular risk," said Odegaard, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of California.

The researchers “see no reason why these results would not be applicable to other populations with type 2 diabetes.” According to the guidelines of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, the diet of all people should include more vegetables, fruits, legumes, Contain nuts, whole grains, lean protein and fish with less saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. The guidelines also recommend minimizing trans fats, processed meats, refined carbohydrates and sweetened beverages.

Nurse Cindy Lamendola, who was not part of the research team, believes the study is a helpful addition to the evidence on type 2 diabetes nutrition. "With all the modes of nutrition the public is exposed to, outcomes like that in this study should reassure the public and be an important message for post-menopausal women with type 2 diabetes," said Lamendola, clinical research nurse coordinator at Stanford University in California.

She and Odegaard said ideally, future research would randomly assign people to different diets and follow them for years. In addition, Lamendola, whose research focuses on cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, said that extending the research to people with diseases like prediabetes could also be instructive. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • American Heart Association (AHA): These diets helped women with diabetes cut heart attack, stroke risk, (accessed: 23.09.2019), American Heart Association (AHA)
  • Journal of the American Heart Association: Diet Quality and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Postmenopausal Women With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: The Women's Health Initiative, (accessed: September 23, 2019), Journal of the American Heart Association

Video: Diabetes: Risk for Heart Attack and Stroke (June 2022).