Understanding the role of low glycemic index in a Mediterranean diet for diabetes prevention

Credit: Unsplash+

Type 2 diabetes is a growing concern globally, strongly linked to a higher risk of heart disease.

Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology and other institutions have examined the impact of a Mediterranean diet with a low glycemic index (GI) on preventing type 2 diabetes.

The study, led by Thérése Hjorth and published in the journal Nutrients, offers insights into how diet quality affects blood sugar levels.

The team recruited 160 participants at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

These participants underwent a 12-week dietary intervention focusing on the Mediterranean diet with a High Emphasis on Polyphenols (MED-HEP), comparing low vs. high glycemic index foods.

Participants included foods like pasta, brown rice, and flatbread (low GI) or jasmine rice, potatoes, and couscous (high GI) along with fruits, vegetables, and other carbohydrate-rich foods in their diets.

The study revealed that:

  • Blood sugar levels were lower after meals with low GI foods compared to high GI foods.
  • The difference in blood sugar levels between the groups widened over time.
  • Participants consuming high GI foods showed an increase in their blood sugar levels, whereas those consuming low GI foods maintained their baseline levels.


The study’s findings suggest that even when following a healthy Mediterranean diet, the glycemic index of the foods consumed is crucial for managing blood sugar levels.

In simple terms, a healthy Mediterranean diet alone cannot offset the effects of consuming high-GI foods.


Emphasize Low-GI Foods: Since traditional Mediterranean diets include low-GI foods like pasta, it may be beneficial to focus on these types of foods.

Mindful Carbohydrate Choices: Even if one is consuming a Mediterranean diet, the quality of carbohydrates (low vs. high GI) should be carefully considered.

Preventive Strategy: Lowering glucose levels after a meal by choosing low-GI foods can be a viable strategy to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.


The research underscores the importance of considering the glycemic index of foods even when adhering to a generally healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet.

As post-meal blood sugar spikes could contribute to the onset of type 2 diabetes, this study provides a useful perspective for prevention strategies.

Follow us on Twitter for more articles about this topic.

Copyright © 2023 Scientific Diet. All rights reserved.