Have you ever wondered what foods should be on your diabetic food list?
Ideally these foods will have a low glycemic index, while providing the nutrients you need. Glycemic index (GI) looks at the impact of a food on your blood sugar. Foods are characterized as having a low, medium or high GI. When you eat a diet with a low glycemic index, you will hopefully get improved diabetes control.
Eating beans daily may just improve your A1c. A study published in JAMA internal Medicine demonstrated that patients consuming at least a cup of beans daily for 3 months reduce A1c levels by half a point and even decreased cardiovascular risk through lowering of blood pressure.
Low GI foods like beans are digested slowly and raise blood sugar levels slowly. High GI foods (think rice, potatoes and other starches) do just the opposite. Alternatively, the benefit may be due to high fiber rather than the low GI. Either way, other than being a little gassy, eating beans may improve your diabetes control and certainly will not hurt.
Berries are high in fiber, vitamin c, and folic acid. It does not really matter what kind. Blueberries, strawberries or others are all packed with benefits and are low in carbohydrates (also a low GI). Investigators in another study found that patients taking foods with a high flavonoid content (e.g berries along with chocolate and wine) had lower insulin resistance, improved regulation of blood sugar, and lower levels of inflammation. What is not clear from the current research is exactly how much, how often, or in what proportion berries and other foods containing flavonoids should be consumed for optimal glycemic management. For now it seems reasonable to to include berries as part of a well balanced diet.
One of my favorite things about growing up in New Orleans were the thick meaty juicy red tomatoes that you can get there every summer. Tomatoes are low carb, low cal and contain the antioxidant lycopene that is thought to protect against both heart disease and prostate cancer. Tomatoes contain vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. Tomatoes also are a very low GI food.
Green, Leafy Vegetables
Like the other foods mentioned, most green, leafy vegetables have a low GI. In a UK study that looked at more than 200,000 people, increasing green leafy vegetable intake by one and a half cups per day reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 14%. Green leafy vegetables contain not only high levels of antioxidants, but foods such as spinach are also rich in magnesium. These foods have a low GI and are low in calories so you do not need to worry about eating too much.
Replacing carbohydrates with nuts has been shown to improve glycemic control in some diabetic patients. The idea is that you substitute a healthy fat for a carbohydrate. Benefits have included not only a reduction in A1c, but also in lipids, a risk factor for heart disease
In the study that demonstrated this benefit, a mixture of unsalted and mostly raw almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews, and macadamias were given to participants.
Many patients will ask me if they can just take supplements of the chemicals that are thought to provide the benefits rather than take in these 5 diabetes super foods. Several clinical trials In the last several years that have taken this approach have not produced favorable results. I think you are much better discussing with your doctor or nutritionist what foods you should be on your diabetic food list and take the real foods rather than a supplement of what we think the beneficial compound is.
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.