Living with diabetes can turn a task as simple as grocery shopping into an overwhelming event. As a diabetic, eating healthy, balanced meals is key to controlling blood sugar levels, but with so many choices available it may be confusing at times to know which items can be added to your shopping cart.
One thing is for sure, you should definitely stray away from a western diet. Also known as the meat-sweet diet, the western diet has been strongly associated with the emergence of the diabetes epidemic. Diabetes has shown an upward trend as cultures continue to stray away from their native diet and become dependent on the convenience of processed foods.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), each year diabetes kills more Americans than AIDS and breast cancer combined. Despite such discouraging statistics, diabetes does not need to be a death sentence. By incorporating these 8 diabetes-friendly foods into your diet you can drastically reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.
The ADA recommends including fiber-rich fruit like apples into a diabetes meal plan. Like any other fruit, apples should be eaten in moderation since their carbohydrate content is converted into glucose upon digestion. As a diabetic your body either does not produce enough insulin or your cells have become resistant to insulin.
An apple similar in size to a tennis ball or half of one large apple contains a sugar content of 15 grams. With this number in mind, you can decide the best time to add the apple to your mealtime so you stay within your daily carbohydrate target. Apples are high in fiber, low in calories, and contain phytonutrients that can help regulate blood sugar.
Beans, which are usually associated with their flatulence inducing properties, are a diabetic’s superfood. One cup of black beans contains 15 grams of fiber, which is more than half the recommended daily amount. As beans are digested, their complex carbohydrates and protein content are slowly broken, preventing blood sugar spikes.
Black beans also protect against heart disease with their molybdenum and folate content, while the flavonoids responsible for the deep, dark color repair damaged cells. Aim to add beans to your menu at least twice a week. When possible use dried beans instead of canned beans which tend to have a high sodium content. If using canned beans, be sure to rinse them thoroughly before use.
Studies have shown that cinnamon could regulate blood sugar by decreasing your body’s insulin resistance. Based on the results from one study, participants added at least 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to their diet for 40 days. Cholesterol levels declined by 18% and blood sugar levels by 24%. Cinnamon contains a mineral called chromium that may be responsible for the body’s increased insulin response.
Turmeric is another spice known to reduce the body’s resistance to insulin.
The active compound curcumin is responsible for turmeric’s yellow-orange color. Type 2 diabetes sufferers are prone to heart-related complications. Curcumin has been shown to prevent heart disease by hindering the deposit of fatty acids in the arteries.
5.) Bitter gourd
Bitter gourd is a vine-grown vegetable also known as bitter melon or bitter cucumber. According to Diabetes Health, bitter gourd contains vicine, polypeptide-P, momordin, and charantin, which are thought to have glucose-lowering properties.
Consuming the juice on a daily basis may also increase the body’s natural production of insulin. As the name implies, this vegetable has a very bitter taste. Adding bitter gourd to a stir-fry of your favorite vegetables is the best way to reap the benefits of this diabetes-friendly produce.
6.) Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes boast a high fiber content and low glycemic index. Dr. David J. Jenkins, a professor at the University of Toronto, developed the glycemic index system, which measures the effect of various carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. The lower the glycemic index, the less your blood sugar will spike. Food with a glycemic index of 55 and less is considered low; sweet potatoes have a glycemic index of 44.
Sweet potatoes come in many different colors, orange, yellow, and even purple! The color is caused by carotenoids, which can improve the body’s response to insulin.
Avocado is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which control blood cholesterol levels and slow digestion to prevent spikes in blood sugar. Avoid pairing avocado with high-carb foods like nachos or taco shells. Instead, try adding a few avocado slices to your next salad.
According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, consuming fish at least once a week can reduce the risk of diabetes-related heart disease by 40%. Fish provides an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can potentially decrease insulin resistance. Oily, cold-water fish like mackerel, salmon, and sardines contain the highest source of omega-3 fatty acids.