Whenever the thought of healthy eating arises, many among us who should take it to heart conjure up visions of cows grazing in the field instead.
Grass is just so bland, as is everything else that stereotypically comes to mind.
The reality, of course, is so much more taste-enhancing than that.
Mother Nature’s actually stocked her shelves with offerings we see every day and, frankly, most of us like. We just need to zero in on making them a more significant part of our daily fare.
So, it’s time to fight back without making our taste buds the first casualty of war.
Here are 10 natural foods that keep our blood sugar down, and that’s a major key to combat diabetes:
A groundbreaking study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2010 found a daily dose of the bioactive ingredients from blueberries increases sensitivity to insulin and may reduce the risk of developing diabetes in at-risk individuals. That’s important because eating too many carbs produces too much insulin, which could lead to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.
Don’t let the fat content of avocados fool you. They’re still good for you! Avocados are full of monounsaturated fat, the kind that helps slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream, prompting less insulin release. Avocados also contain beta-sitosterol, a compound that could help quell inflammation after an intense workout. Just limit yourself to one-quarter of an avocado at a time to avoid calorie overload. Or, try avocado oil drizzled on a fresh salad or veggies.
A 2003 study in the journal Diabetes Care showed that cinnamon may cause muscle and liver cells to respond more readily to insulin, thereby improving weight loss. Better response to insulin means better blood sugar balance and, therefore, less insulin released into your body.
Ceylon cinnamon also seems to reduce several risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood sugar and levels of triglycerides, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and total cholesterol. Just a half-teaspoon a day for 20 days is enough to improve your insulin response and lower blood sugar by up to 20%.
4. Olive Oil
Olive oil, which is rich in the same monounsaturated fat found in avocados, prevents not only belly fat accumulation, but also insulin resistance. It also encourages the release of the appetite-suppressing hormone, leptin.
A 2008 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found overweight and obese people given two eggs a day for breakfast lost 65% more weight than those eating a similar breakfast without eggs. The researchers said eating eggs may control hunger by reducing the post-meal insulin response and control appetite by preventing large fluctuations in both glucose and insulin levels.
Studies also show that people who eat eggs for breakfast eat fewer calories for the next 36 hours.
Vinegar has been found to blunt blood sugar and insulin increases, as well as heighten the sensation of fullness after a high-carbohydrate meal. An Arizona State University study found that people who started a meal with a vinegar drink enjoyed better blood sugar and insulin profiles following the meal.
Cherries contain naturally occurring chemicals called anthocyanins, which could help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that anthocyanins could reduce insulin production by 50%. Anthocyanin-loaded cherries may also protect against heart disease and cancer.
8. Raspberries and Strawberries
Berries technically don’t lower blood sugar, but they help if you are eating them instead of other common fruits. This is because berries tend to be very low-sugar fruits.
There are only 5-7 grams — about one teaspoon — of sugar in one cup of raspberries or strawberries, compared to 13 grams in one cup of apples and 24 grams in one cup of mango. Berries are also rich in antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which is why they are such bright red or blue colours.
Anthocyanins appear to improve blood sugar and cardiovascular risk factors in Type 2 diabetics.
9. Cashews and Almonds
Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in hundreds of bodily processes, including blood sugar regulation.
The mechanism of action is unclear, but low magnesium levels are strongly associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It seems to influence insulin secretion, which may be why 25-38% of type 2 diabetics have low magnesium. Additionally, clinical trials have shown that correcting low magnesium improves insulin response and lowers blood sugar levels.
Alongside spinach, cashews and almonds are one of the best sources of magnesium in the human diet. The fact they are convenient, low carb and delicious is just a bonus.
10. Green Tea
This well-known health drink contains a number of powerful antioxidants and catechins that benefit so many aspects of health, including blood sugar control. In a review of seven observational studies totalling 286,701 people, green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic.
If you’re already a tea drinker, then it’s time to include some green tea. If you aren’t, it’s time to start.