Replace CarbsThe debate over what you should eat to be healthy continues to confuse consumers as a new study says that eating more healthy fats—nuts, seeds, vegetable oils—can help to prevent or, at the very least control, type 2 diabetes. However, the study says that you have to eat these healthy fats in place of less healthy animal fats and carbohydrates.

Indeed, this large study showed that making these dietary changes can, in fact, lower blood sugar levels and even improve insulin sensitivity.

“The world faces an epidemic of insulin resistance and diabetes. Our findings support preventing and treating these diseases by eating more fat-rich foods like walnuts, sunflower seeds, soybeans, flaxseed, fish and other vegetable oils and spreads, in place of refined grains, starches, sugars and animal fats,” explains study co-leader Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian MD, DrPH.

The dean of the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy goes on to say, “This is a positive message for the public. Don’t fear healthy fats.”

Now, previous studies had estimated that for every 0.1 percent drop in HbA1C, it could be possible to reduce risk for type 2 diabetes by as much as 22 percent and heart disease by nearly 7 percent. HbA1C, of course, is an indicator of long-term blood sugar control.

For this study the researchers looked at 102 trials involving more than 4,600 adults in order to evaluate how different kinds of foods—dietary fats to carbohydrates—affect key risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

In addition lead co-author Fumiaki Imamura—of the University of Cambridge Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit—notes, “Among different fats, the most consistent benefits were seen for increasing polyunsaturated fats, in place of either carbohydrates or saturated fat.”

And now the study authors are saying that the findings suggest a greater need to inform doctors and patients alike about effects that diet has on metabolic health and type 2 diabetes risk.

Imamura goes on to say, “Until now, our understanding of how dietary fats and carbohydrates influence glucose, insulin and related risk factors has been based on individual studies with inconsistent findings. By combining results from more than 100 trials, we provide the strongest evidence to date on how major nutrients alter these risks.”