Foods that fight diabetes are abundant in nature, like cabbages, cauliflower, carrots, chili and custard apple. Most of what we eat and drink convert to blood glucose. Exercise and medications assist in lowering blood sugar to optimal levels. Diet remains as the most important element in the fight against diabetes.
Dietary Secret that Fights Diabetes
Diet, in the fight against diabetes, doesn’t only mean the drastic lowering of quantity, especially with carbohydrates, our body’s main source for energy, which also is the main culprit in spiking blood sugar. More importantly, diet should mean the inclusion of food nutrients that not only regulate digestion, like fibers, but also assist in fighting diabetes, like chromium, which is vital for insulin to transfer glucose to the cells as energy.
Foods that Fight Diabetes
From Cabbage to Custard Apple
The following is a list of foods that fight diabetes either on its own terms, or symbiotically with other foods (continued from Bananas to Buckwheat):
• Cabbages – are very low in kilojoules and high in fiber, which translates to weight loss, a crucial factor in the fight against diabetes. Cabbages are a rich source of vitamin C, which reduces the risk of developing diabetes. Red cabbage is rich in anthocyanins, a natural pigment that boost insulin production. Fermented cabbage, also known as sauerkraut, have higher levels of anticancer compounds, due to fermentation. A word of caution: sauerkrauts are high in sodium.
• Carrots – are loaded with beta-carotene, which has been linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A study found that individuals with high blood levels of beta-carotene have 32 percent lower insulin levels (suggesting better blood glucose control). Carrots are good for the eyes, delaying macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. They are rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower bad cholesterol.
• Cauliflowers – pack few kilojoules and lots of fiber. They are rich in vitamin C, supplying up to 50 percent of daily need, which assists in protecting cells from damage due to high blood glucose. They are a good source of folate, potassium and vitamin B6. Like Broccoli and cabbage, cauliflowers are rich in anticancer compounds. At least 80 studies found that individuals consuming the largest amounts of cauliflower have lowest risk of lung, stomach, colon and rectal cancers.
• Cherries – are very rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene and potassium. They also have little amounts of iron and the fiber pectin, which helps in lowering bad cholesterol. Australian cherries have a moderate glycemic index (GI). Tart (sour) cherries, usually sold bottled, have low GI, making them ideal snack foods, as they don’t raise blood sugar levels as high as most snack foods.
• Chili and Capsicums – capsaicin, which gives chili its heat, boosts the body’s heat generation, translating into more burnt energy, elevating metabolic rate, which is crucial in optimizing blood sugar levels. Eating a meal containing freshly chopped chili reduces the amount of insulin needed for post-meal blood glucose levels. Capsicums are an excellent source of vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, and the red variety is rich in beta-carotene. Bright orange, green and yellow capsicums are high in carotenoids like zeaxanthin and lutein, which help delay diabetic retinopathy.
• Cinnamon – researchers discovered that this spice helps lower blood glucose. One study involving 60 individuals revealed that taking as little as ¼ to ½ teaspoon of cinnamon a day lowered blood glucose by 18-29 percent. Like chromium, some natural compounds found in cinnamon helps insulin in transferring glucose into cells as energy.
• Custard Apples – (atis in Filipino) are a very rich source of magnesium, which helps regulate blood glucose levels, maintain normal nerve and muscle functions, steadies heart rhythm, keeps bones strong, and supports a healthy immune system. Diabetics usually have low magnesium levels.
Moderation is not only the crucial element in diets that fight diabetes. The right combination of foods rich in fiber and blood glucose lowering nutrients works as much. These factors compliment exercise, and sometimes medications, in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for diabetics.
More foods that fight diabetes are: Almonds, apples, apricots and avocados; or Dried fruit, eggplant, fennel, fenugreek, fish, seafood; or garlic, ginger, grapes, kiwifruit, grapefruit; or Bananas, barley, beans, bread, buckwheat.
Photo by La Grande Farmer's Market at Flickr.com
Magic Foods for Better Blood Glucose. The Reader’s Digest. (Australia) 2008. 360 pages. Hardbound.
Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal: An A to Z Guide to Safe and Healthy Eating. The Reader’s Digest. 2004, Montreal, Canada. 416 pages. Hardbound.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.