Hyderabad: Do not blame the potato and rice if you are a diabetic. Contrary to
the popular conviction that carbohydrates are responsible for the management of diabetes,
a research study carried out by city doctors show that reduced fat diet would bring down
the complications associated with diabetes. Low fat foods are highly beneficial in the
management of diabetes. A rice-eating diabetic need not change to chapattis.
A study by Dr Neelima Gundupalle, an ICMR senior research fellow, revealed that
carbohydrates are not responsible for long-term complications in diabetics. Food rich in
fat is the culprit. This is the first-ever major study on low-fat diet and diabetes in
India lasting for as long as three years. All other studies were short-term research
projects that were less than a year.
“Though prospective epidemiological studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of
low-fat diet in diabetes, they are all short term studies lasting up to six months. No
intervention was continued for longer duration in diabetes as it is very difficult to
conduct long-term dietary intervention studies in diabetes. Neelima’s research is the
only long term (three-year) study of reduced fat diet intervention in type 2 diabetes,
and first of its kind in India,” said Dr PV Rao, head of the department of endocrinology
and metabolism, Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad. Dr Rao served as the
guide for Neelima’s study.
Dr Rao suggests that one should not blame the carbohydrates. Though carbohydrate-rich
food may have short-term effect on diabetics, they are good in the long run. “Man has
been on carbohydrate-rich food for almost 50,000 years and if rice and potato were to
cause diabetes, then all Indians and Chinese should have been diabetics. Fat should be
taken in moderation,” he added.
One should not neglect the saturated fatty acids present in animal fat. The fat intake
ratio should be equal for saturated fatty acids (ghee etc), mono unsaturated fatty acids
(meat, nuts, and milk) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (sunflower oil and vegetable fat).
Excess intake of any of them including polyunsaturated fatty acids is harmful, though
many think Pufa is good for health. The total calorie intake from fat should not exceed
25 per cent.
Dr Rao said as part of the study a list of 90 foods rich in fat was prepared and people
were asked to point out the type of food they prefer. Their blood sugar levels were
The study revealed that low-fat diets are beneficial in managing type 2 diabetes, as it
was directly linked to serum cholesterol independent of its effects on obesity. Although,
the reduced fat diet was efficacious in controlling glycaemia and cholesterol, no
benefits were observed regarding triglycerides and HDL cholesterol.
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