5 Surprising Superfoods to Fight Diabetes
I hope you’ve read my earlier blogs on superfoods to fight diabetes/pre-diabetes. It’s good to know that there are many options out there to establish a healthy eating plan to control blood sugar/insulin and manage weight. Here are five more ordinary superfoods that are extraordinary for staving off/managing Types 2 diabetes. And even if you are not a pre-diabetic/diabetic, you can easily incorporate these key elements into your daily diet for a healthy lifestyle.
Good news if you are a chocolate fan! Did you know that consumption of dark chocolate which is rich in flavonoids can improve your mood and add antioxidants while providing you with a satisfying and appetite-suppressing treat? In a recent study, parameters of lipid and glucose metabolism (cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides, waist circumference) improved after six months of daily intake of dark chocolate. Cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate, contains antioxidant flavonoids which means they can reduce inflammation, keep arteries healthy and fight aging by preventing cellular damage. Comparatively, dark chocolate has more antioxidant capacity, polyphenols and flavonoids than any other fruit tested including blueberries and acai berries.
But before you go running to the candy aisle, remember that dark chocolate should be 70% cocoa or higher and when possible, opt for sugar-free versions. Here are my sugar-free favorites – I always stock these and have them handy when I need a ‘treat’ or to fix a sweet craving.
Garlic and Onions
Garlic and onions contain the key component allicin, a sulfur compound that gives the strong odor, taste and teary eyes. Allicin is known for its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal and antioxidant properties. Onions also contain the antioxidant quercetin to fend off allergies, reduce inflammation and even fight cancer.
Traditionally, vegetables in the allium family have been recommended for heart disease and stroke (i.e. high cholesterol and blood pressure), but these superfoods are also noted to affect the insulin signaling pathway of diabetes. That means it can have a profound effect on lowering blood sugar, reducing triglycerides, improving insulin sensitivity and the circulatory and digestive system.
This study showed the effect of garlic on reducing the lipid profile and glucose parameters in patients with diabetes, while this study showed that the consumption of onion improved glucose and insulin resistance in breast cancer patients.
If you want to maximize the nutrient content with allium vegetables but don’t want to chase away vampires or people, how about trying some fermented black garlic? The fermentation process changes the taste of garlic (makes it sweeter) but also increases the nutrients and makes them more bioavailable. I remember over 20 years ago when my parents were given a gift of a jar of fermented black garlic for health and wellness and couldn’t figure out why someone would ‘gift’ this. If I knew then what I know now…
Here are several to try:
For cooking and eating with meals:
If you prefer to supplement:
Matcha Green Tea
Besides water, tea is the number one popular drink around the world, and green tea is well known as a health-conscious choice with diabetes prevention as one of the inherent benefits. If you like green tea, consider the Japanese matcha green tea. Matcha is a more concentrated form of green tea and has:
- 3-10X more antioxidants than green tea (depending on the quality of tea) and up to 30X more antioxidant activity than blueberries.
- 2X the amount of catechins (EGCG) which have been shown to have a positive impact on weight loss (body weight, BMI, LDL cholesterol).
- 10X the amount of polyphenols which reduce oxidative stress and relax blood vessels which lower blood pressure thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- 10X the amount of L-theanine, an amino acid which promotes a calming effect
- Vitamin C, B-Complex, and zinc for immune support
- Chlorophyll to oxygenate your blood and revitalize cells, improving detoxification and weight control
This study shows that consuming matcha daily can enhance fat oxidation and thermogenesis.
Studies have been published on the benefits of green tea for control of diabetic parameters.
Here are several brands to try – look for organic if possible and check if it’s been tested for pesticides and contamination:
If you are a fan of sushi rolls with nori (seaweed), you’re in luck. Seaweed is a rich source of protein and is very low in calories. If you are vegetarian or vegan, seaweed has enough protein and minerals to replace meat and fish. Seaweed is heart healthy with vitamins (including K, B9/folate) to reduce homocysteine levels and prevent calcium build-up in the body. It also contains fiber, natural iodine (for healthy thyroid function) and a carotenoid compound with antioxidant effects called fucoxanthin to help the body burn fat. This study showed that seaweed consumption lowered glucose and insulin response with a carbohydrate meal.
You can find nori sheets at almost any supermarket nowadays. Have you tried making your own California rolls? Here is the brand I buy and a sushi bamboo roller if you want to DIY.
If you love wine like me, good news! A glass of red wine a day can actually help keep blood sugar levels under control, along with a healthy, low glycemic diet. Red wine contains polyphenols from the grape skins that helps modulate peaks and valleys in glucose levels.
This study showed that moderate red wine consumption significantly lowered blood pressure levels and increased good cholesterol (HDL) levels in people with diabetes. This study supports the beneficial effect of polyphenols on insulin resistance and on cardiovascular risk factors. Remember, this applies to moderate wine drinking – which means one glass (5 oz.) for women and no more than two for men. If you are like me and cannot just have one glass, forgo the alcohol altogether (which I had to do) and opt for other superfood choices.