Ever see the top 10 superfoods lists? November is Diabetes Month and November 14th is World Diabetes Day, so today’s superfoods list is for those with diabetes! These foods are packed with nutrition, and many of them help control blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. As with all foods, you need to work the diabetes superfoods into your individualized meal plan in appropriate portions.
Ginger may improve long-term blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. Research shows ginger works by increasing uptake of glucose into muscle cells without using insulin, which is great for managing high blood sugar levels. It’s also worth noting ginger has a very low glycemic index.
Salmon or any Fish High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Salmon is an excellent choice for people with diabetes. This high protein food is low in saturated fat, which you want to avoid for heart reasons, and doesn’t contain carbohydrates so it won’t affect blood sugar levels. Those omega-3 fats are important for your heart and overall health. Your goal is 6-9 ounces of fish per week.
Hemp is definitely on the hot list these days. Like seeds in general, hemp seeds have many health advantages including heart healthy fats (they have a good amount of omega-3), protein, fiber, minerals and antioxidants. They’re also rich in Vitamin E, and are mild and tasty, too. Hemp reduces inflammation and benefit those with arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and psoriasis. By improving circulation and reducing inflammation, hemp products may be particularly beneficial for diabetics. But for those who are wondering, although they come from the same plant as marijuana, no, they do not get you high.
I love cinnamon, and like chia seeds, I seem to add it to many things I make, such as plain Greek yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal, fruit, and chili. Cinnamon is not only flavorful but has also been shown to decrease levels of fasting glucose, total and “bad” cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. I can also increase “good” cholesterol levels.
Almonds will help diabetics in two ways: slower digestion and prevent heart disease. Almonds are one of the most nutrient-dense nuts, and are especially high in vitamin E which slows plaque development that leads to atherosclerosis. But don’t feel like you need to limit yourself to just almonds—diabetics can eat any kind of nuts. When nuts are combined with high-glycemic index foods, such as pasta, they can potentially slow their absorption, stabilizing blood glucose levels. The fiber and plant sterols found naturally in nuts helps lower “bad” cholesterol and increases “good” cholesterol.
Goji berries are extremely high in antioxidants and important phytonutrients like beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, both which are critical for eye health. It’s thought goji berries could protect the eyes from diabetic retinopathy. They’re also a great source of iron and vitamins C and A.
One ounce of goji berries provides 20 grams of carb, 3g protein, and 1g fiber. Add them to your diet by sprinkling them on salad, plain Greek yogurt, cooked vegetables, and in soup. Goji berries interact with certain blood pressure and diabetes drugs, so check with your physician.
Chia seeds are a total protein, which many plants are not. They’re also high in fiber, rich in healthy omega-3s, and high in calcium and antioxidants. These little chia’s benefit diabetics by helping control blood glucose, reducing blood pressure, and lowering C-reactive protein, a major marker of heart disease risk. This study was published in Diabetes Care.
You can add chia seeds to almost anything. I love them in Greek yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal and stew.
Having two Tablespoons of vinegar before a meal can reduce the spike in blood concentrations of both insulin and glucose after the meal. This is particularly beneficial to those with pre-diabetic symptoms when blood sugar control is crucial. Start your meal with a salad in a vinegar-based dressing to get the benefits, and also consider other ways to use vinegar in recipes, such as a zesty marinade for chicken or pork. If you’re hardcore, some people swear by drinking vinegar solo!
Give us your feedback!
What do you think of our diabetes superfoods list? Do you regularly eat many of these? Do you avoid any? Are we missing any on our list?
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods