Diabetes and Nutrition – Fruits and Vegetables that Help Control Blood Sugar

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your body’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal. This happens when the body does not produce enough insulin, does not properly use the insulin, or exhibits a combination of both. Essentially, there are three types of Diabetes – Type -1 Diabetes, Type – 2 Diabetes, and Gestational Diabetes. A lack of insulin or resistance to insulin in the body causes blood sugar to build up in the body which leads to a host of associated medical problems. Whilst Type-1 Diabetes attacks and destroys the insulin cells in the pancreas, Type-2 is lifestyle-related and causes insulin resistance due to obesity and lack of exercise. Gestational diabetes occurs when pregnancy hormones block insulin production in the body.

Nutritional guidelines for Diabetes:

The nutritional plan for diabetics should focus on the amounts and types of carbs that patients put on their plate, says Clinical Nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood. The right kind of carbs prevent blood sugar spikes and help in better disease management. Some amount of fiber and carbohydrates are obtained from fruits and vegetables. They are also a great source of powerful antioxidants and micronutrients. Here, we take you through a list of fruits and vegetables that help to manage Diabetes.

Raw, cooked, and roasted non-starchy vegetables:

Vegetables are powerhouses of nutrients. They also add flavor, color, and texture to the food. Low-carb, non-starchy vegetables such as Eggplant, Carrots, Mushrooms, Onions, Tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, Zucchini, and Squashes are great for Diabetics. Non-starchy vegetables have trace amounts of sugar so you can enjoy these in large amounts with minimal spikes in the blood sugar levels. To get the maximum health benefits, choose fresh vegetables that have no sauces and salt. These vegetables can be sautéed, baked, and roasted or consumed with dips and low-fat dressings such as hummus, guacamole, salsa, and dips. · Carrots are a non-starchy vegetable that keeps diabetic patients satiated in between meals. Carrots are also a rich source of Vitamin A that promotes eye health especially in the case of diabetic patients who suffer from diabetes-associated eye ailments. · Broccoli acts as a prebiotic and helps in Glucose and Cholesterol metabolism. · Zucchini is not only low in calories but also supports heart health and protects against certain cancers. · Cabbage has tons of fiber which help to slow down digestion and thus prevent blood sugar spikes · Cucumbers and tomatoes, eaten as a filling in a whole wheat sandwich, help to stabilize blood sugar levels · Mushrooms, high on B Vitamins help to counter Vitamin deficiencies in diabetics

Making friends with greens:

Diabetics need to look beyond the regular salads and consume greens such as Kale, Spinach, and Chard. These are satiating, healthy, and low-carb. Kale leaves can be easily roasted in the oven and consumed as crunchy chips along with a bit of olive oil. Greens can be mixed in with regular vegetables or had along with a major protein source such as Fish and Chicken. Leafy vegetables are full of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. They have an almost zero impact on blood sugar levels and are beneficial for Diabetics due to their high antioxidant content and starch-digesting enzymes.

Low-calorie drinks

Plain water is great but water infused with fruits and vegetables is a healthier and more refreshing alternative. A lemon or cucumber put in regular water or made into ice cube with some flavoring in them is a refreshing alternative. Cold tea with lemon and cinnamon is considered to be a wonder food for Diabetics.

Melons and Berries:

Each of these packs in a serious amount of fiber and beneficial carbs. It has just the right amount of sweet which allows them to be blended into a delicious smoothie using yogurt or just plain. Berries manage oxidative stress that is linked to heart disease and cancer.

Citrus fruits

Eating citrus fruits can be a great way of sneaking in your daily dose of Vitamins and Minerals without the load of carbohydrates. Citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruits can be highly beneficial for people with Diabetes. These are also rich in Folate(a component found in Vitamin B) and Potassium which helps to manage high blood pressure in Diabetics.

A little bit of Fat:

Dr. Anju highly recommends the intake of good fats such as seeds, fatty fish like salmon and avocado. A meal with Salmon on a bed of fresh, green lettuce is a wonderful meal option for Diabetics as it has all essential nutrients such as Vitamins, Minerals, Fiber, and Protein. Fruit is always better than juice. A raw, pureed apple, or banana, given to your young one has almost ten times more fibre than a glass of juice.

Sweet Potatoes:

Sweet potatoes are beneficial for Diabetics as they rank lower on the GI scale as compared to white potatoes. When consumed, they release sugar slowly which does not cause blood sugar levels to spike up. They are rich in fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Potassium. It can be eaten as a part of a balanced meal along with a protein and a leafy, green salad.

Tart cherries to fight inflammation :

Tart cherries, eaten fresh, are great sources of antioxidants that help to fight heart disease and cancer in Diabetic patients.

Fragrant juicy peaches :

Juicy peaches are a warm-weather treat and are very diabetes-friendly. With only 14 grams of carbohydrates, these are chock-a-block full of nutrition. These can be thoroughly enjoyed when tossed into a salad or as a fruity drink.

Bottom line :

There are no good or bad choices for diabetics when it comes to eating fruits and vegetables. Starchy vegetables may be higher on calories but they can still be consumed in moderation as they have some great nutrients too. A Diabetes diet simply means eating healthy food along with fruits and vegetables and sticking to regular mealtimes.