Nutrients like vitamin C and fiber that fight diabetes and increase insulin secretion are found in spices and fruits that lower blood sugar and cholesterol, fighting diabetic complications like heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure and retinopathy.
Foods and spices that fight diabetes – like garlic, ginger, grapes, kiwi fruit and grapefruit – are abundant in nature. Since diet is a major component in the fight against diabetes, the diabetic must acquire the knowledge of which foods, and their combinations, work best in complimenting exercise, and sometimes with medication, for strategies to have maximum effect.
Combination of Foods maximizes Diet’s Overall Effects
The right combination of foods do much more, not only in regulating blood glucose levels, but also in fighting, or delaying, diabetic complications like heart disease, retinopathy, renal disease and hypertension.
Foods that Fight Diabetes
From Garlic to Kiwi Fruit
The following is a list of foods that fight diabetes either on its own terms, or symbiotically with other foods:
• Garlic – is a mainstay as the major spice of many delicious dishes. Besides being a powerful antioxidant, garlic increases insulin secretion and improve cells’ sensitivity to insulin. Garlic also works wonderfully against hypertension. It reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol. Garlic also thins the blood, reducing clots which clog arteries.
A word of caution: garlic supplements show no blood glucose lowering benefits. Raw garlic works best in keeping blood sugar at bay.
• Ginger – is a major culinary spice and is valued as a home remedy for upset stomach, nausea, migraine, gastroenteritis, and food poisoning. Along with at least 50 antioxidants, ginger is rich in gingerols, a compound used for cancer prevention. Ginger prevents proteins from being lost in urine, a problem that occurs with diabetes. Ginger lowers bad cholesterol and blood pressure, hypertension being a major complication of diabetes. It prevents blood clots, protecting blood vessels from blockage and atherosclerosis.
• Grapefruit – is packed with pectin, a soluble fiber that regulates blood glucose and cholesterol. Like most types of fiber, it provides a feeling of fullness, reducing food cravings. Half a grapefruit contains about 35 mg of vitamin C, which is almost 100% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI), and 150 mg of potassium. The pink and red varieties are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Grapefruits are also rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that lowers the risk of prostate cancer.
A grapefruit before each meal, three times a day, has been found to reduce an average of 1.6 kg of weight, over 12 weeks, in individuals with metabolic problems. Grapefruit also lowered their insulin levels, which means less stress on insulin-producing cells.
• Grapes – are absolutely low in glycemic index (GI), which makes it an ideal snack food, because it doesn’t have much impact on the blood glucose level. Grapes are an excellent source of vitamin C, and have fair amounts of potassium. Purple and red grapes contain anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Grapes contain quercetin, a pigment that regulates blood cholesterol.
Grape skin contains resveratrol, a phytochemical that reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease. Grape seeds contain proanthocyanidins, a substance shown to have protective elements against bacteria, cancer, virus, allergies and inflammation. Inflammation is a major risk factor for diabetes.
• Kiwi Fruit – is rich in fructose, the benign sugar, vitamin C, and fiber – both the soluble, which protects against heart disease and diabetes, and the insoluble, which reduces the risk of cancer. Kiwi fruit is a good source of vitamin E and potassium. A study at Aberdeen’s Rowett Research Institute found that people who drank 500 ml of kiwi juice have lesser damage to the DNA of immune cells than those who just drank water. This is perhaps due to high levels of flavonoids and carotenoids found in the kiwi fruit.
Nutrients from the right foods - like bananas, beans, broccoli and buckwheat or almonds, apples, apricots and avocados - combine to maximize the effects of diet on blood glucose regulation. Although moderation is no less important, the right foods, or their combinations, compliment exercise, and sometimes with medication, to maintain optimum health for the diabetic.
Magic Foods for Better Blood Glucose. The Reader’s Digest. (Australia) 2008. 360 pages. Hardbound.
Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal: An A to Z Guide to Safe and Healthy Eating. The Reader’s Digest. 2004, Montreal, Canada. 416 pages. Hardbound.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.