Author: Maria Kuzmiak, Wellness Writer
People with diabetes have difficulty with glucose (sugar) metabolism. Under normal circumstances, the hormone, insulin, helps move glucose out of the bloodstream and into the body where it can be used for energy. People with diabetes either do not produce enough insulin or cannot use it properly, so glucose stays in the blood and, over time, causes damage to organs.
For people with diabetes, maintaining blood sugar control and insulin production is the key to staying healthy. This can often be accomplished by managing carbohydrate intake as well as increasing the consumption of protein and healthy fats. Here are six of the best foods for accomplishing these goals if you have diabetes.
Green vegetables are loaded with antioxidants and disease-fighting phytochemicals. They are also very low on the glycemic index, a measure of how much or how quickly a food will raise blood sugar. There is at least one green vegetable that will please anyone, including leafy greens like kale and spinach that are excellent in soups, romaine lettuce that can be used to create a tasty salad, and of course, the super star broccoli that is excellent raw, steamed, stir fried or sautéed.
Walnuts are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids and protein, two important nutrients that all healthy people, diabetic or not, need every day. They are very low in carbohydrates and can be eaten either on their own as a snack or sprinkled on cereals, yogurt or salads.
Another great source of omega 3 and protein, wild-caught fish should be a staple of every diabetic’s diet. Choose the wild-caught variety instead of farmed because it is lower in contaminants like mercury and also tends to be higher in omega 3.
Organic berries (strawberries, blueberries and raspberries)
While many fruits are high in sugar, berries are very low on the glycemic index. They are also excellent sources of powerful antioxidants. Organic is best since berries are small and tend to absorb high amounts of pesticides
Plain Greek yogurt
Thick and creamy, Greek yogurt makes a great snack, and it is also a good choice for breakfast or lunch on the run. Yogurt is high in calcium, which contributes to bone health and provides a source of gut-friendly probiotics. Higher in protein and calcium than regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is also a good source of zinc and vitamin B12. Sweeten it with fresh fruit or sprinkle in some cinnamon or nuts for added flavor.
Oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, which can help reduce cholesterol. Add cinnamon or a dab of nut butter for added blood sugar control. When choosing oatmeal, the bigger the flake the better. Choose steel cut or slow cooking oats, which are absorbed into the bloodstream more slowly than the instant or quick-cooking varieties.
In addition to eating well, several herbs, particularly gingko biloba and bilberry, have been shown to help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. Health researcher Dr. George Kudolo has studied the effect of gingko biloba and believes that the herb has a promising ability to increase insulin production. The National Institutes of Health reports that bilberry appears to improve blood circulation and may help people with diabetes-related eye problems that are due to poor circulation in the retina.
An important nutrient that is often recommended for diabetics is chromium picolinate, an essential trace mineral that is found in foods like whole grains, broccoli, mushrooms, brewer’s yeast and liver. Chromium picolinate is thought to improve the way the body uses insulin, resulting in better blood sugar control, so diabetics may benefit from taking it in supplement form in addition to including chromium-rich foods in their diet.