New nutrition guidelines for diabetics promote emphasis on high-monounsaturated fat diet

DALLAS Feb. 5, 2002 Diabetics are no longer limited to a high-carbohydrate/low-fat diet, according to the latest guidelines issued by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). While that is still considered a healthy diet, they may now choose a high-monounsaturated diet instead.

Dr. Abhimanyu Garg, professor of internal medicine and chief of nutrition and metabolic diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, served on the expert panel of 12 convened by the ADA that formulated the new evidence-based guidelines, which emphasize individualized diets and a variety of food choices. Gargs research showing the benefits of a high-monounsaturated fat diet was instrumental in leading to the change in guidelines.

In the past a diet rich in carbohydrates and low in fats was recommended to all patients with diabetes, Garg said. We found that a diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids led to improvement in HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, triglycerides and most importantly, diabetes control.

Now diabetics can choose a diet rich in carbohydrates or a diet rich in monounsaturated fats. We can now offer them a choice, which they are more likely to stick to and are more compliant with, Garg said. ,p>The guidelines include several new recommendations for treating the disease that affects some 16 million Americans. The recommendations indicate that:

  • Foods containing carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat milk should be included in a healthy diet.
  • The total amount of carbohydrates in meals or snacks is more important than the source or type.
  • Sucrose (table sugar) and sucrose-containing foods do not need to be restricted.
  • Non-nutritive sweeteners are safe when consumed within the acceptable daily intake levels established by the Food and Drug Administration.

Based on research from several clinical trials, the panel found that sucrose did not negat

Contact: Amy Shields
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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