Diabetes Forecast

Keep Your Eyes Healthy With a Mediterranean Diet

What to Know

A Mediterranean (Med) diet boasts loads of healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish, and good-for- you fats, like olive oil. Many studies have demonstrated the diet’s health benefits, but this is the first study that investigated whether the Med diet could lower your risk of diabetes complications like eye disease (called retinopathy) and kidney disease (called nephropathy).

The Study

The researchers enrolled 3,614 people between the ages of 55 and 80. All had type 2 diabetes and, at the start of the study, no diabetes complications. Each participant was assigned to one of three groups. One group ate a Med diet with lots of olive oil, another group ate a Med diet with loads of nuts, and the third group ate a low fat diet. The researchers followed the participants for 6 years to see how many developed eye disease and/or kidney disease.

The Results

None of the diets appeared linked to kidney disease, but eye disease was another story. The group that ate the olive oil-rich Med diet had less eye disease than either of the other groups, followed by the group that ate the Med diet with lots of nuts. The nut group had more men than women, which may have affected the results.


Eating a Mediterranean diet with lots of olive oil may reduce your risk of eye disease if you are aged 55 to 80 and have type 2 diabetes. However, it won’t help prevent kidney disease.

Mediterranean Diet, Retinopathy, Nephropathy, and Microvascular Diabetes Complications: A Post Hoc Analysis of a Randomized Trial, by Diaz-Lopez and Associates. Diabetes Care 2015;38:2134–2141 http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/dc15-1117

The information on this screen does not take the place of care from your doctor or other health care provider. If you have general questions about diabetes or diabetes-related research, e-mail askada@diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2382).



Take the Type 2
Diabetes Risk Test