Health Buzz: Whole-Fat Dairy May Thwart Type 2 Diabetes

Plus, other foods that may prevent diabetes.

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Can Dairy Fat Lower the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes?

Whole-fat dairy products may protect against type 2 diabetes, but experts warn the findings are not strong enough to recommend snubbing skim milk just yet, HealthDay reports. Researchers analyzed data on more than 3,700 adults who were part of a national heart health study; they found that those who had the highest blood levels of trans-palmitoleic acid—a fatty acid that dairy products contain in varying degrees—appeared to be 60 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes over 20 years than those with the lowest levels of the fatty acid. The amount of trans-palmitoleic acid in a product is proportional to the amount of dairy fat it contains, so whole milk has more of it than 2 percent, which has more than skim milk; it would take roughly three to five daily servings of dairy, depending on the products' fat content, to achieve levels of trans-palmitoleic acid similar to what the "high" group had, Dariush Mozaffarian, study author and an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, told HealthDay. The findings were published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Dairy aside, a number of other foods might also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, U.S. News's January Payne reported in June.

From: Brown Rice and 4 Other Foods That Can Help Prevent Diabetes

1. Nuts

Nuts help dampen hunger and provide healthy fats, magnesium, and fiber. Peanuts and other varieties are thought to help reduce the risk of heart disease and help improve cholesterol levels. Some research suggests that eating nuts may reduce the risk of diabetes. Because of this, people with diabetes should consume nuts to help reduce their cardiovascular risk, according to a study published in 2008 in the Journal of Nutrition. A common myth is that nuts should be avoided by those who want to lose weight because they're thought to be fattening. Not so, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, which suggests consuming nuts, which are high in calories, in small portion sizes—say, a half-ounce of mixed nuts, totaling about 84 calories.

2. Green leafy vegetables

A 2008 Diabetes Care study found that women who ate more green, leafy vegetables in addition to fruit had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Eating lots of veggies such as spinach, kale, and collards, which are low in calories and carbohydrates, may also help accomplish a key goal of weight loss: Consuming less calories than one expends, says dietitian Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, president-elect for healthcare and education at the American Diabetes Association. 

3. Fish

Choose fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, Mayer-Davis recommends. But shy away from fish that is deep fried or breaded, the ADA suggests. A study published this month in Diabetes Educator found that people with diabetes who consume more fish may have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as improved cholesterol levels and a lower risk of cardiac death.

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