The top 20 foods for beating diabetes

Every time you roll your shopping cart into the supermarket, you’re making a decision that goes far beyond whether you’re going to have pork or pierogies for dinner. You’re actually choosing between being a victim and a victor. What you put in your cart goes a long way toward determining whether you’ll be compromised by diabetes or start controlling and eventually even beating it.

That’s why we’ve assembled the following list of the 20 best foods for fighting diabetes. Every time you go to the store from now on, take this list with you and check off each item. In fact, if your favourite store has a delivery service, sign up for it so your supplies are automatically replenished every few weeks.

Apples

Because they offer so many health advantages, put these at the core of your diet. Apples are naturally low in calories, yet their high fibre content (4 grams) fills you up, battles bad cholesterol, and blunts blood-sugar swings.

Avocado

Rich, creamy, and packed with beneficial monounsaturated fat, avocado slows digestion and helps keep blood sugar from spiking after a meal. A diet high in good fats may even help reverse insulin resistance, which translates to steadier blood sugar long-term.

Barley

Choosing this grain instead of white rice can reduce the rise in blood sugar after a meal by almost 70 per cent—and keep your blood sugar lower and steadier for hours. That’s because the soluble fibre and other compounds in barley dramatically slow the digestion and absorption of the carbohydrate.

Beans

When menu planning, think “bean cuisine” at least twice a week. The soluble fibre in all types of beans (from chickpeas to kidney beans to even edamame) puts a lid on high blood sugar.

Beef

Yes, beef is a diabetes-friendly food, as long as you choose the leanest cuts and keep portions to one-fourth your plate. Getting enough protein at mealtime keeps you feeling full and satisfied. Plus, it helps maintain muscle mass when you’re losing weight, so your metabolism stays high.

Berries

Think of them as nature’s M&Ms: sweet, convenient, colorful, and satisfying. Berries are full of fibre and antioxidants. The red and blue varieties also contain natural plant compounds called anthocyanins. Scientists believe these may help lower blood sugar by boosting insulin production. Sponsored link: Berry Simple Smoothie from Splenda

Broccoli

Hey, don’t make that face. Broccoli is filling, fibrous, and full of antioxidants (including a day’s worth of vitamin C in one serving). It’s also rich in chromium, which plays an important role in long-term blood sugar control.

Carrots

Don’t believe what you hear about carrots rapidly raising blood sugar. While the type of sugar they contain is transformed into blood sugar quickly, the amount of sugar in carrots is extremely low. That’s good news because carrots are one of nature’s richest sources of beta-carotene, which is linked to a lower risk of diabetes and better blood-sugar control.

Chicken or turkey

These meats can be high-fat disasters or perfectly healthy fare. It all depends on the cut and how it’s prepared. Breast meat, whether ground or whole, is always lower in fat than dark meat such as thighs and drumsticks.

Eggs

Eggs are another excellent, inexpensive source of high-quality protein—so high, in fact, that egg protein is the gold standard nutritionists use to rank all other proteins. An egg or two won’t raise your cholesterol, and will keep you feeling full and satisfied for hours afterward.

Fish

The single deadliest complications of diabetes is heart disease, and eating fish just once a week can reduce your risk by 40 per cent, according to a Harvard School of Public Health study. The fatty acids in fish reduce inflammation in the body—a major contributor to coronary disease—as well as insulin resistance and diabetes.

Flaxseed

No, this is not something you fill the bird feeders with come winter. Rather, these shiny brown seeds hit the diabetes trifecta: They’re rich in protein, fibre, and good fats similar to the kind found in fish. They’re also a source of magnesium, a mineral that’s key to blood-sugar control because it helps cells use insulin.

Milk and yogurt

Both are rich in protein and calcium, which studies show may help people lose weight. And diets that include plenty of dairy may fight insulin resistance, a core problem behind diabetes.

Nuts

Because of their high fibre and protein content, nuts are “slow burning” foods that are friendly to blood sugar. And even though they contain a lot of fat, it’s that healthful monounsaturated kind again. Roasting really brings out the flavour of nuts and makes them a great addition to fall soups and entrées.

Seeds

Like nuts, seeds of all types—pumpkin, sunflower, sesame—are filled with good fats, protein, and fibre that work together to keep blood sugar low and stave off heart disease. They’re also a natural source of cholesterol-lowering sterols, the same compounds added to some cholesterol-lowering margarine.

Oatmeal

Ever wonder why oatmeal is so good for you? It’s because it’s loaded with soluble fibre which, when mixed with water, forms a paste. Just as it sticks to your bowl, it also forms a gummy barrier between the digestive enzymes in your stomach and the starch molecules in your meal.

Olive oil

This stuff is liquid gold. In fact, it contains an anti-inflammatory component so strong that researchers liken it to aspirin. Unlike butter, the good fat in olive oil won’t increase insulin resistance and may even help reverse it. A touch of olive oil also slows digestion, so your meal is less likely to spike your glucose. Dribble it on salads, baked potatoes, pasta…just about anything.

Peanut butter

One study found that eating peanut butter dampens the appetite for up to 2 hours longer than a low-fibre, high-carb snack, making this childhood favourite a grown-up weight-loss ally. The monounsaturated fats in PB also help control blood sugar. Simmer 2 minutes, remove from heat, and stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Wait until it cools, then start dipping!

Whole-grain bread

Eating white bread is practically like eating table sugar when it comes to raising blood sugar. So if you eat a lot of it (and this includes bagels), simply switching to whole grain may improve your sensitivity to insulin.

Sweet potatoes

They’re also extra rich in carotenoids, orange and yellow pigments that play a role in helping the body respond to insulin. Plus, they’re full of the natural plant compound chlorogenic acid, which may help reduce insulin resistance.

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