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12 Essential Foods to Combat Diabetes Part I

While blood sugar levels can only be lowered with medication and exercise, it can be kept at a stable level by eating the right foods. By eating foods that are low in glycemic index, you can prevent blood sugar levels from suddenly spiking which may lead to further Diabetes-related complications.

Some of the best types of foods to incorporate into your diet to keep Diabetes in check are vegetables and fruits, lean protein and healthy fats. You should take note to also reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates that you eat.

In addition to being able to effectively control blood sugar levels, these foods are can also lower cholesterol, improve vision and improve heart health.

Cinnamon

This delicious spice is not only versatile in its use (it instantly adds flavor to both savory and sweet dishes), it also boosts a myriad of health benefits such as improving the body’s immune system, acting as an effective and natural pain reliever for arthritis sufferers and relieving unpleasant indigestion symptoms.

Adding to the list of the benefits of cinnamon is the positive effects that it has on diabetes; results from a study that was first published in Diabetes Care journal in 2003 showed that 1 to 1½ teaspoons of cassia cinnamon reduces blood glucose as well as cholesterol levels in sufferers of Type 2 diabetes.

It is easy to include cinnamon in your diet – sprinkle a teaspoon of ground cinnamon over some fresh fruits or a bowl of oatmeal for a nutritious breakfast or add a couple sticks of it to pasta sauce or braised meat sauce the next time you cook.

Broccoli

It may not be on everyone’s list of favorite foods but there is no denying that broccoli is a crucial vegetable to include in your diet to ease the effects of diabetes. There is not one, not two, but three (yes, three!) essential elements in broccoli that prevents and may even reverse the effects of diabetes on the body.

First of all, broccoli contains sulforaphane which helps repair the damages that diabetes causes to the blood vessels. This damage caused increases the risk of heart-related ailments and stroke.

Next, chromium that is found in broccoli is important in maintaining a healthy blood sugar level as it supports the body’s production of Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF). GTF binds itself to insulin and potentiates it, making it more efficient in controlling the glucose level in your system.

Broccoli also contains the antioxidant beta carotene that is vital in keeping our eyes healthy. As diabetics are more susceptible to retinopathy, damage to the retina caused by diabetes, it is crucial that diabetes patients have a healthy supply of beta carotene in their diet.

Oatmeal

A diet that is rich in high-fiber foods and whole grains may reduce the risk of developing diabetes by almost 40 percent. Oatmeal is a whole grain food that is packed with fiber. It contains beta-glucan which is a soluble fiber that reduces the rate at which glucose is absorbed from food in the digestive system, and this in turn prevents glucose levels from fluctuating too much.

Enjoy a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast topped with some nutritious fresh berries or nuts for a wholesome meal. If you are not a fan of oatmeal, try oatmeal flour instead! Replace regular flour with oatmeal flour and use it to thicken soups and sauces, or in your baking.

Almonds

All types of nuts are considered “slow burning” and this helps keep blood sugar levels under control. Almonds in particular are high in fiber, iron, protein, zinc and vitamins B and E; most importantly, they are low in carbohydrates. Almonds also contain unsaturated fats which effectively reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol, something that diabetics are more prone to developing.

Enjoy unsalted, roasted almonds as a healthy snack in between meals or blend into smaller pieces to add to pasta sauce or salads. It is important that you stay clear of almonds that are packaged and seasoned with additional salt or sugar.

Dark chocolate

Being able to relish chocolate when you are diabetic? That sounds too good to be true! Numerous studies have shown that dark chocolate consisting of at least 60% cocoa provides diabetics with a variety of benefits:

When consumed daily (about 20 grams a day), the body’s sensitivity to insulin heightens which leads to improved blood sugar level control. The daily intake of 20 grams also helps lower the amount of “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels in diabetic patients. Dark chocolate intake also effectively lowers blood pressure by 2-3 points because of a substance in it that aid in the formation of nitric oxide that relaxes blood vessel walls.

Dietitians advise against eating any type of chocolate that does not contain at least 60 percent cocoa (avoid white or milk chocolate) in excess and you should take measures to limit yourself to no more than 1-2 small squares of chocolate a day.

Read Part II here.

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