Discover six tasty superfoods that can help people with diabetes.
Key facts about Diabetes
Image Source: IDF Diabetes Atlas Seventh Edition 2015
- The number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.
- The global prevalence of diabetes among adults over 18 years of age has risen from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014.
- Diabetes prevalence has been rising more rapidly in middle- and low-income countries.
- Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.
- In 2012, an estimated 1.5 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose.
- Almost half of all deaths attributable to high blood glucose occur before the age of 70 years1. WHO (World Health Organization) projects that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in 2030.
- Healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use are ways to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
- Diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with diet, physical activity, medication and regular screening and treatment for complications.
Image Source: IDF Diabetes Atlas Seventh Edition 2015
There are two categories of diabetes to consider: type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes) and type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that stops the body from producing insulin. This disease process accounts for only 10 per cent of all diabetics.
About type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and occurs when a person’s body either does not produce enough insulin or develops a resistance to insulin (that is, they no longer feel their insulin response).
In addition to having a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes, being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle are major contributors to developing the disease.
One of the key approaches to controlling and even helping to reverse type 2 diabetes disease involves selecting a healthy diet. It is critical to choose carbohydrates that don’t spike blood sugar, as well as lean proteins and essential fats that help to stabilize blood sugar and promote weight loss.
Here are six suggested superfoods that are healthy choices for people with type 2 diabetes.
6 superfoods for people with diabetes
Raw almonds offer the perfect mix of monounsaturated fats and magnesium, a mineral that has a role in carbohydrate metabolism. A deficiency of magnesium may worsen insulin sensitivity. Other sources of magnesium include Swiss chard, pumpkin seeds and spinach.
Nuts are a great option for people with diabetes. But different nuts have significantly different effects:
- Almonds contain lots of nutrients, particularly vitamin E
- Walnuts contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids
- Cashews offer a lot of magnesium
- Almonds, peanuts, and pistachios all reduce “bad” cholesterol
In addition to being rich in vitamin E, avocados are also chock-full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Research has shown that diets filled with monounsaturated fats and low in starchy carbohydrates are associated with greater insulin sensitivity — ideal for those who have type 2 diabetes.
Beans are loaded with vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, calcium and iron. Black beans, lima beans, chickpeas and lentils are rich in fibre and protein, and therefore do not fluctuate a person’s blood sugar. The soluble fibre found in beans also helps to reduce low-density lipoprotein (“bad cholesterol”), which can be a cardiac risk factor.
Healthy examples of beans include:
- Black beans
- White beans
- Navy beans
- Lima beans
- Pinto beans
- Garbanzo beans
- Soy beans
- Kidney beans
4. Cold-water fish
Cold-water fish, such as salmon, tuna and cod, are rich in lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Both protein and fat act as brakes that slow the entry of sugar into the bloodstream, which is an ideal scenario for type 2 diabetics. As well, protein triggers the secretion of a hormone called glucagon, which elicits fat loss.
Fish also provides a lot of vitamin D and vitamin B2. Vitamin B2 makes your bones healthy, which is good for people with diabetes, whose bones can be damaged by high blood glucose levels. Vitamin D is good for the skin, eyes, red blood cells, and nervous system, all of which can potentially be damaged by diabetes.
5. Non-starchy vegetables
Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms, are nutrient-dense, calorie-light foods and are optimal for those who have type 2 diabetes. In addition to having very little effect on blood sugar, non-starchy vegetables are great “fill-me-up” foods that can be snuck onto the “free list” of foods that type 2 diabetics can enjoy as often as they like.
Examples of non-starchy vegetables include:
Oatmeal is a wonderful source of both soluble and insoluble fibre, and is therefore categorized as a superfood for those who have type 2 diabetes. When selecting oatmeal, you should avoid the instant oatmeal that is found in individual packages. This type of oatmeal actually spikes blood sugar and contributes to weight gain. Instead, try slow-cooking oatmeal, such as Irish or steel-cut oats.
Take control of Type 2 Diabetes with the Low Carb Program… A 10 week low-carb education program developed with the help of 20,000 people with T2D and based on the latest research.
Benefits of a low-carb diet include lower blood glucose levels, less dependence on medication and improved cholesterol levels.
Get your 5* Diabetes Recipe App… Over 403 recipes for a healthy diet for people with and without diabetes. New recipes weekly.
Original article published by Canadian Living. Written by Dr. Joey Shulman, the founder of Shulman Weight Loss Clinics. For more information, visit drjoey.com.
Source for Key Facts About Diabetes – Fact Sheet from WHO