Making good choices about what to eat is both one of the most important decisions you can make for your health, and the hardest. After all, the phrase “you are what you eat” may be a cliché, but it’s also true.
And when you have type 2 diabetes, your diet becomes even more important. What you choose to eat can have a direct impact on how you feel.
But avoiding added sugars is just the start. It turns out there are certain foods which can help you manage some of the worst of your diabetes symptoms.
Add these top diabetes superfoods to your menu
Following are six diabetes superfoods you should start eating more of today.
1. Beans and legumes:
Beans and legumes are the most overlooked health foods in the grocery store. These hidden superfoods suffer from a “boring” reputation. But the truth is it’s nearly impossible to get more nutrition bang for your food buck.
In fact, beans and legumes are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. They’re loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, which make them good for everyone. But what makes beans a diabetes superfood is that they’re both high in fiber and low on the glycemic index.
In other words, they fill you up, provide you with a bunch of vital nutrients AND help keep your blood sugar under control.
But the bean and legume benefits don’t end there. A Canadian study found that beans not only help folks reduce blood sugar, they also improve heart health in people with type 2 diabetes.
Just because you have type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean you have to deny your sweet tooth. Because it turns out there is a diabetes superfood that can help you control your blood sugar, and satisfy your sweet cravings at the same time.
Berries, from blueberries to strawberries, contain flavonoids called anthocyanins. Experts say these powerful plant pigments improve our body’s insulin response. So they naturally help stabilize blood sugar. Plus berries are loaded with potent antioxidants which help protect your heart against the negative effects of diabetes.
However, be sure to avoid store-bought smoothies. These “healthy” drinks are full of far too many added sugars. Which makes them more of a junk food than a health food. Eat the berries plain or blend them into a homemade smoothie instead.
Experts say cinnamon could help improve insulin sensitivity. Making it another diabetes superfood, you should add to your shopping list.
In a double-blind, placebo controlled study a group of volunteers with type 2 diabetes took capsules containing one, three, or six grams of cinnamon or a placebo after meals for 40 days.
According to the researchers, by the end of study the lucky folks who got the cinnamon supplements had healthy drops in their blood sugars ranging from 18 to 29 percent. On average, the blood sugar in the folks who took the cinnamon was 20 percent lower than those who took a placebo.
In another study published in the journal Nutrition Research, the spice helped lower fasting blood sugar levels in a group of folks with type 2 diabetes. And a meta-analysis confirmed that the spice has the power to lower fasting blood glucose levels. Plus experts say this diabetes superfood could lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides.
To get more cinnamon into your diet try stirring a quarter of a teaspoon into coffee or tea in the morning. Sprinkle some into yogurt, oatmeal, cottage cheese or fruit salad. And for an exotic tasting twist toss some into your stir fries.
For best results look for Ceylon cinnamon. You can find online and in health food stores.
4. Spinach and kale:
Low potassium levels and type 2 diabetes often go hand in hand. Spinach and kale can help fix that. These diabetes superfoods are loaded with a number of essential nutrients including potassium.
One cup of cooked spinach brings 839 mg of potassium to the table. And since dark leafy greens are so low in calories, high in fiber, and all around good for you, even the American Diabetes Association says it’s impossible to eat too much spinach or kale. So go ahead and dig in. (Although if you’re on blood thinners you should avoid eating too many.)
5. Sweet potato:
Since your type 2 diabetes diagnosis, chances are you’ve had to give up white potatoes. Traditional potatoes can send blood sugar levels through the roof. But it turns out you don’t need to banish potatoes from your diet forever. You just need to pick the right kind.
Sweet potatoes contain a bunch of nutrients we need to stay healthy. But what really makes them a diabetes superfood is that they’re a slow-burning carbohydrate, and relatively low on the glycemic index. Try doubling up on your diabetes superfoods by sprinkling a small sweet potato with a bit of blood-sugar friendly cinnamon.
Fiber helps control blood sugar. Omega-3 fatty acids help control blood sugar. Magnesium helps control blood sugar. So go ahead and get all of them in one place, the diabetes superfood walnuts.
But the walnut benefits don’t end there. They also contain nutrients that help combat type 2 diabetes complications, such as heart disease and vision loss.
And if you’re not a fan of walnuts, we have good news. Study after study have linked all kinds of nuts and seeds to healthier blood sugar levels. Try pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, cashews or peanuts. They all have low glycemic index scores.
You are what you eat. So make sure you’re choosing the foods that can help you get, and stay, healthy. Make these six diabetes superfoods a part of your regular diet starting diet.