If you’re dealing with diabetes, it’s more important than ever not just to select foods that are considered safe to eat, but also to choose ones that can help in the natural treatment of the disease. Fortunately, there are many delicious and nutritious foods that can help.
Before I explain my top 12 picks and why they are great to eat if you’re diabetic, or at risk of becoming diabetic, it’s important to mention that some research shows simply eating a healthy vegetarian diet is enough to substantially reduce the risk of getting the disease. A study published in PLOS Medicine found that a healthy vegetarian diet including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and tea and coffee could help ward off the disease. So, you may be surprised to see fish on my list of top foods but I’ll explain why momentarily.
And, it is also important to mention that drinking even one can of soda daily has been linked to a 22 percent increased risk of diabetes, according to research so it is a great idea to eliminate soda in favor of water. Here are my top 12 foods to eat if you have diabetes:
Broccoli and Broccoli Sprouts
Broccoli sprouts, like their full-grown vegetable counterparts, contain a compound known as sulforaphane, although it is found in higher levels in the sprouts. This naturally-occurring compound can improve blood sugar levels and help with the maintenance of stable sugar levels. It’s a quick and easy addition to salads, sandwiches and wraps.
Celery, like many fruits (apples, apricots, blueberries, pears and purple grapes), contain compounds known as flavonols which research in the Journal of Nutrition shows can decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26 percent. Additionally, these nutrients can help those already suffering from the disease. While the fruits are high in natural sugars that may not be suitable for all diabetics, celery is low in sugar and an excellent choice for anyone.
Grab your cinnamon spice jar and start shaking. That’s because research published in the Annals of Family Medicine found that even a daily sprinkling of this delicious spice can help regulate blood sugar levels. Sprinkle cinnamon on your unsweetened almond milk lattes, breakfast cereal or add to your favorite curries for a Moroccan-inspired flair.
Ground-breaking research published in Endocrine Journal found that a vitamin A deficiency may actually be at the root of diabetes. The scientists found that vitamin A is essential for the proper functioning of the beta cells of the pancreas. The beta cells are responsible for producing insulin, which in turn helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Many foods like squash, leafy greens, carrots and other orange and green vegetables contain beta carotene, the precursors of vitamin A, which is great for those trying to stave off the disease. However, many people with full-blown diabetes have trouble converting the nutrient to vitamin A, resulting in a deficiency that can aggravate the condition. It may be necessary to obtain vitamin A directly from eggs or fish sources.
Most fatty types of fish are good sources of vitamin A, making the food a good option for those suffering from diabetes. Additionally, a vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and can be a factor in the worsening of the condition. Most fatty types of fish are also good sources of vitamin D. Choose wild over farmed options.
Not just for gingerbread, fresh ginger can help with diabetes by improving the body’s response to insulin. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas to help regulate blood sugar levels. Research published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine found that ginger was effective in the treatment of diabetes and insulin resistance. Add finely-chopped fresh ginger to soups, curries or brew a batch of ginger tea with it. To do so, coarsely chop a 2-inch piece of ginger and add to a quart of water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and cover, allowing to simmer for at least 45 minutes. Strain off the ginger pieces and add a touch of stevia to sweeten, if desired. Drink a few cups daily.
In addition to being high in fiber, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels, lentils also contain the nutrient coenzyme Q10 that has the ability to protect and treat pre-diabetes and diabetes. CoQ10 boosts cellular energy and helps to balance glucose levels in the body.
Not a commonly-eaten food, perhaps nettle leaves should become a regular part of the diets of diabetics. That’s because research in the journal Neuroscience Letters found that the plant can assist with regulating blood sugar and improving many symptoms linked to diabetes. Fresh nettles are primarily available in the spring but you can add dried nettles to soups or stews any time of the year.
Parsley is rich in a unique compound called myricetin, which research in the Journal of Nutrition found helps to reduce type 2 diabetes risk by 26 percent and may also help treat the condition. According to Nutrition.merschat.com, parsley is one of the richest sources of myricetin as it contains 8.08 mg per 100 grams of raw parsley.
Ever-increasing amounts of research show that eating more fermented foods can help thwart unhealthy blood sugar spikes. Naturally-fermented, unpasteurized sauerkraut contains many probiotics that may be helpful for those suffering from diabetes. Additionally, it also contains sulforaphane that is helpful for diabetes. Choose sauerkraut varieties with “live cultures” from the refrigerator section of your grocery or health food store.
Antibiotics are increasingly being explored for their potential causal role in diabetes. Research in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that diabetics who were taking antibiotics had severely-imbalanced blood sugar levels in contrast to those diabetics not using antibiotics. So, you may find eating yogurt or plant-based yogurt, low in sugar and containing “live cultures” may be helpful in the treatment of the disease. According to research in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism, probiotics found in the food may help improve blood markers linked to diabetes.