The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that not only are more people than ever before being diagnosed with diabetes, but the death rate from diabetes continues to rise which shows that we are poorly managing this disease. Type 2 diabetes prevention and management is highly related to diet, exercise, and an overall healthy lifestyle. A side effect of diabetes is having poor blood sugar control due to an organ called the pancreas not functioning correctly.
However, research to identify “superfoods” to assist in blood sugar control has had some promising findings. Along with diabetes prevention and treatments, these nutritious foods can improve your overall health and wellbeing. Plant foods have especially been found to aid in overall blood sugar control and alleviate the impact of diabetes on other body tissues because they are high in fiber, low in saturated fat, low in calories and high in phytochemicals (nutritious components of plants).
Here are a few foods to include in your day that may support your blood sugar control:
1. NAVY BEANS
Beans provide protein, fiber and other nutrients that are supportive to blood sugar management. Navy beans contain the most fiber per ½ cup (10 grams), making it a great option. Also considered a heart-healthy food, beans are affordable and can be conveniently added to salads, soups, wraps or enjoyed on their own.
2. FLAX SEED
Flax seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants (substances that protects our bodies from damage). Studies have supported the use of flax seed to improve fasting and average blood sugars as well as improve lab values related to heart health. One or two tablespoons per day of ground flax seed is the recommended serving size for most healthy adults. This can be added to oatmeal, yogurt, a salad, or a smoothie.
3. GREEN TEA
Green tea has been shown to have positive impacts on fasting blood sugar and average blood sugar in some studies. Researchers suggest 2-3 cups of green tea per day could provide benefits for people with diabetes. Additionally, green tea contains antioxidants that help prevent damage to your cells. Try drinking unsweetened green tea hot or chilled or add as the liquid base to your smoothie!
Leafy green vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants that contribute to better blood sugar control. Two cups of raw greens equal a serving of vegetables, so try incorporating kale, spinach, broccoli, or bok choy in your smoothie, soup, salad or stir fry to help meet the current recommendations to include a minimum of 3 servings of vegetables per day.
Although some people try to cut carbohydrates out of their diet after a diabetes diagnosis, research shows that whole grains play an important role in managing blood sugar in type 2 diabetes. Oats have been shown to have beneficial effects on blood sugar and cholesterol due to being high in fiber, minerals, and B-vitamins. Aim to include whole, intact grains in your diet, such as oats, barley, and quinoa. Remember one portion size of whole grains is ½ cup, so be mindful of your portion sizes to support optimal blood sugars levels.
A key component of many sushi rolls, and enjoyed as a savory snack, seaweed has risen in popularity in recent years. Seaweed and algae have been studied in food and supplement-form and are rich in fiber, healthy fats, and phytochemicals. More research is needed to determine exactly how much is needed to make an impact, however, try adding a seaweed salad, dried seaweed snack or sushi to your meal plan is a great way to add in these health-promoting nutrients!
7. TREE NUTS
Nuts that grow on trees include almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios. They are full of nutrients that promote heart health and prevent blood sugar spikes in diabetes. A minimum of 5 servings per week (a serving size = about a handful, or 1oz) adds healthy fats, fiber and protein which all help you stay satisfied longer. Nuts are a portable low-carbohydrate snack that can be mixed into oatmeal, sprinkled on a salad, or added to trail mix.
*This information is not intended as a substitute for consultation, evaluation, or treatment by a medical professional and/or registered dietitian or nutritionist. It is solely for information purposes and does not replace advice or recommendations from any medical professional.