People with diabetes recognize the importance of maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet. The right foods can make you feel better and fill your nutritional needs. Discover ten power foods to add to your diet when you have diabetes.
- Our grandparents knew what they were talking about when they recommended “an apple a day to help keep the doctor away”. Apples have less sugar than many packaged snacks you might turn to when you have cravings. They are also full of fiber to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, a complication associated with diabetes. Fiber makes you feel fuller longer, which can ward off the desire to snack more and helps you maintain a healthier weight.
- Bake your apples with a healthy dash of cinnamon, a power spice for people with diabetes. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon to almost any dish for a bold burst of flavor. Studies have shown cinnamon may minimize insulin resistance, lower blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol levels.
- Those who like sweet treats will be pleased to learn about research done at Tufts University that shows dark chocolate can improve insulin sensitivity. Dark chocolate can also reduce your blood pressure, minimize LDL cholesterol (known as “bad” cholesterol) and improve the function of your blood vessels. This applies only to dark chocolate and not milk or white chocolate. A small square may be added to your diet if factored in. Choose the purest dark chocolate with over 60% cocoa or more.
- Another outstanding dietary choice is cold-water fish such as Atlantic mackerel, wild Alaskan salmon and sardines. These types of fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids; also known as the “good” fat. They can raise your HDL levels (“good” cholesterol) and reduce LDL cholesterol that may clog your arteries. Eating cold-water fish may also help ward off heart disease. Consider mercury levels, very high in tuna, and try to eat no more than three portions of fish weekly.
- Nuts have plenty of fiber and protein and are filling. A small portion of nuts can satisfy your hunger. Try walnuts, which contain the fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid to help reduce inflammation. Walnuts also contain vitamin E and essential omega-3s to assist in combating cholesterol. Snack on walnuts in their shells so it takes longer to eat them. This helps you maintain proper portion control.
- Asparagus is an excellent choice for people with diabetes. It contains few calories and is low on the glycemic index scale. Asparagus is a super-food that contains many vitamins and minerals. Included are vitamins A, B2, B6, C, E and K as well as copper, folate, selenium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, niacin, protein, iron, pantothenic acid and zinc. It is a great source of dietary fiber to satisfy your appetite without adding a lot of calories or fat. Steam asparagus and drizzle lemon juice over the top.
- Blueberries are tasty and contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber may help flush fat out of your system while soluble fiber makes you feel full and helps improve blood sugar control. Blueberries contain a natural chemical called anthocyanins to shrink fat cells and stimulate the release of adiponectin to regulate, blood sugar levels. Research has shown eating blueberries can boost your memory and ward off feelings of depression.
- White cannellini beans are another power food for people with diabetes. These beans have lots of protein and soluble fiber that can lower your cholesterol. Studies have revealed eating a cup of legumes, such as cannellini beans, each day can reduce your average blood sugar levels. Remember they are counted as a carbohydrate. One cup would be counted as two servings.
- Kale and spinach are more power foods to eat when you have diabetes. These green, leafy veggies contain lutein, an important carotenoid that is good for your eyes. This is especially important for people with diabetes who are prone to eye problems including cataracts, glaucoma and retinopathy. Kale and spinach contain vitamins B and C, iron and calcium as well as fiber to help you feel full.
- Broccoli is a fantastic cruciferous vegetable like kale and cauliflower. It contains sulforaphane that can reduce inflammation, improve your blood sugar control and protect your blood vessels from cardiovascular damage. Eating broccoli can also help flush toxins out of your system.
These power foods help to keep you full and healthy. Keep sugar free foods on-hand at home and work so you are not tempted to eat the wrong snacks. The proper diet may reduce your blood sugar levels, combat heart disease and make you feel better every day.