If you’re not at all concerned about your blood sugar, you probably ought to be… especially if you’re a senior. A staggering 86 million Americans are pre-diabetic, even if they don’t know it. And nearly 30 percent of seniors over 65 already have type 2 diabetes, although far too many are unaware of it.
In other words, we all ought to be taking steps to keep our blood sugar under control and reduce our risk for this disease. And as you probably guessed, diet and exercise are key. But what you might not realize is certain specific foods could help slash your diabetes risk.
Following are our top four picks for foods to help you slash your own risk of developing diabetes…
It surprises most folks to learn that a daily dose of chocolate can be a great way to defend yourself against diabetes. The key is to choose the right type of chocolate. Skip the milk chocolate, which is packed full of added sugar, and reach for the dark chocolate instead. According to researchers eating a reasonable portion of dark chocolate every day could reduce insulin resistance, lowering your risk for diabetes.
In an observational study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, folks who ate around 100 grams of dark chocolate a day (about a bar) had lower insulin and liver enzyme levels than those who didn’t indulge in the decadent treat.1 This isn’t the first time we’ve seen health benefits from chocolate either. Earlier studies have already linked dark-chocolate to better insulin sensitivity,2 improvements in blood pressure2 and cognitive function,3 slower declines in memory loss4 and even a lower risk of cancer.5
It turns out chocolate isn’t the only delicious treat to find its way onto the short list of blood-sugar-friendly foods, pistachios made the cut too. Research has shown that naturally anti-inflammatory nuts and seeds can help us lose weight,6 and could help prevent the insulin resistance that’s a hallmark of pre-diabetes.7
For example, folks in the Nurse’s Health Study who ate five or more servings of nuts a week had a 27 percent reduced risk of getting a diabetes diagnosis. But the benefits didn’t end there, diabetic nurses who ate five or more servings had a stunning 47 percent lower risk of heart disease, a common complication of diabetes.8-10
In another study, published in the journal Diabetes Care,11 volunteers with pre-diabetes whose diets were supplemented with pistachios had significant drops in their fasting glucose and insulin levels. The researchers concluded that eating pistachios not only leads to a better “metabolic profile,” it could also reverse some of the damage done by pre-diabetes! In other words, a handful of pistachios a day could be all it takes to turn the tide for those headed towards type 2 diabetes.
Research published in the journal Diabetologia,12 found that folks who eat more yogurt could reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 28 percent! Conventional medicine wisdom has steered people away from eating dairy, but the research conducted at the University of Cambridge revealed that there’s no association between high-fat, low-fat or total dairy consumption and new cases of diabetes.
But even more revealing was the connection they uncovered between lower fat dairy choices such as yogurt and cottage cheese and a significantly lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Replacing just one snack a day, such a potato chips, with a cup of yogurt could send your own diabetes risk plummeting too.
Study after study has found links between drinking coffee and a lower risk for diabetes. And we’re not talking about a small drop in risk, either. According to research published in the journal Diabetes Care drinking four or more cups of coffee a day could slash your diabetes risk by 50 percent or more.13 And every additional cup of inflammation-slashing14 coffee could reduce your risk by an additional 7 percent!
1. “Daily chocolate consumption is inversely associated with insulin resistance and liver enzymes in the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Luxembourg study,” British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 115, Issue 9, May 2016, pp. 1661-1668
2. “Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons,” Am J Clin Nutr, March 2005, vol. 81 no. 3 611-614
3. “Cocoa flavanol consumption improves cognitive function, blood pressure control, and metabolic profile in elderly subjects: the Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) Study—a randomized controlled trial,” Am J Clin Nutr, December 17, 2014
4. “Enhancing dentate gyrus function with dietary flavanols improves cognition in older adults,” Nature Neuroscience, 17, 1798–1803 (2014)
5. “Magnesium intake and incidence of pancreatic cancer: the VITamins and Lifestyle study,” British Journal of Cancer, 113, 1615-1621 (1 December 2015)
6. “Nut consumption, weight gain and obesity: Epidemiological evidence. Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases,” NMCD, June 2011, Volume 21, Supplement 1, Pages S40–S45
7. “Nuts, inflammation and insulin resistance,” Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2010;19:124-130
8. “Nut and Peanut Butter Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Women,” JAMA, 2002;288(20):2554-2560
9. “Health benefits of nuts in prevention and management of diabetes,” Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2010;19:110-116
10. “Regular consumption of nuts is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in women with type 2 diabetes,” J Nutr, 2009;139:1333-1338
11. “Beneficial Effect of Pistachio Consumption on Glucose Metabolism, Insulin Resistance, Inflammation, and Related Metabolic Risk Markers: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” Diabetes Care, 2014 Nov; 37(11): 3098-3105
12. “Dietary dairy product intake and incident type 2 diabetes: a prospective study using dietary data from a 7-day food diary,” Diabetologia, 2014; 57(5): 909–917
13. “Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes,” Diabetes Care, 2006 Feb; 29(2): 398-403
14. “The evaluation of inflammatory and oxidative stress biomarkers on coffee–diabetes association: results from the 10-year follow-up of the ATTICA Study (2002–2012),” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 69, 1220-1225 (November 2015)
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