When you have prediabetes or diabetes, it can be tricky to know which foods and drinks are the best choices. But these 10 picks by Dr Ganesh Kadhe, associate director, Nutrition Medical and Scientific Affairs, Abbott can help keep your numbers in check.
1. Beans (of any kind)
Lentils, kidney, black or chickpea beans are a low glycemic index food. It means that their carbohydrates are gradually released so they’re less likely to cause blood sugar spikes. They’re so beneficial that a recent study found that eating a daily cup of beans for three months as part of a low-glycemic diet lowered (hemoglobin A1c) HbA1c level by half a percentage point.
Try it: Swap in your regular dal for rajma in your next meal from time to time
You might think that there’s no room in a diabetic meal plan for fruits, but apples are also low glycemic. Aiming for foods that are low or medium on the glycemic index is one way to manage blood sugar levels. Eating an apple, a day has its benefits – they are high in fiber, vitamin C and fat-free! Not to mention a portable and easy snack option.
Try it: Toss an apple in your lunch bag or grab one between meals. Try baking them with a hint of cinnamon for warm treats when you crave for deserts.
These crunchy nuts are rich in magnesium, a mineral that may help your body use its own insulin more effectively. Try adding more almonds into your diet to have your daily dose of this blood sugar-balancing mineral. Plus, nuts like almonds are high in monounsaturated fatty acids, protein, and fiber, which makes them a great way to help manage blood glucose levels.
Try it: For healthy snacking on the go, pack 30g portions of almonds into single-serve containers.
This leafy green vegetable has just 21 calories per cooked cup and is filled with blood sugar-friendly magnesium and fiber. Additionally, you can enjoy spinach raw, sautéed with olive oil, in your favourite palak paneer or even blended making it a versatile choice too!
Try it: Toss a heaping handful of baby spinach into your next smoothie or use it in place of lettuce in a salad.
5. Chia seeds
You might have heard that losing or managing weight is one of the best things you can do to improve your blood sugar. Chia seeds can help with that. In one study people with diabetes who added about an ounce of chia seeds to a calorie-controlled diet for six months shed four pounds and trimmed an inch-and-a-half from their waistlines. Aside from being packed with fibre, these gems also contain protein and provide 18 per cent of your recommended daily intake of calcium.
Try it: Combine a quarter-cup of chia seeds with one cup of 1 percent or non-fat milk and one-half cup of diced fruit. Refrigerate overnight and enjoy for breakfast the next morning.
6. Add a diabetes specific formula
Along with lifestyle modifications and regular exercise, it is advised to add a Diabetes specific formula to your diet plan. Look for a formula that is designed with special ingredients like complex carbohydrates, vitamins & anti-oxidants to help manage the steady release of glucose. Ideally the formula must be included in your breakfast, lunch or dinner as a partial meal replacement in one of your modified meals, which helps to keep blood glucose and weight under control.
Try it: Carry a serve of the formula in your shaker (to be consumed with water) so you’ll always have a healthy snack on hand — no matter how busy your day is.
Another fruit option: the evidence of the health benefits of eating blueberries is pretty compelling. Blueberries contain compounds that have been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease and help improve how your body uses insulin. One study showed that eating the equivalent of about 2 cups of blueberries daily improved insulin sensitivity in overweight people with insulin resistance. They’re also a great source of fiber and other nutrients such as vitamin C and antioxidants.
Try it: Take a half-cup of fresh blueberries (or defrosted, frozen blueberries) and spoon over plain, unsweetened yoghurt. Or add a cup of blueberries to your smoothie.
Oatmeal isn’t just good for your heart. It can benefit your blood sugar too. Just like apples, steel-cut and rolled oats have a low glycemic index. Just keep in mind that while steel-cut and rolled oats are great picks, highly processed instant and quick oats tend to be higher on the glycemic index so they’re not as blood sugar-friendly.
Try it: Opt for steel or rolled oats cooked oatmeal with masala as a savoury option and with blueberries for a sweet option and enjoy a hearty, hot breakfast.
9. Turmeric (Haldi)
This golden spice contains curcumin, a substance that may keep your pancreas healthy and prevent prediabetes from turning into Type 2 diabetes.
Try it: Add turmeric to your daily cooking and be sure not to miss your daily dose of turmeric.
10. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea has long been used for a variety of ailments. Existing research shows that it has antioxidant and anticancer properties, and a recent study has found that it may help you manage your blood sugar levels as well. When participants in the study drank one cup of chamomile tea after meals three times per day for six weeks, they showed a reduction in blood sugar levels, insulin, and insulin resistance.
Try it: Replace an after-dinner cocktail with a freshly brewed cup of chamomile tea. Try adding a slice of lemon for flavor and an extra dose of vitamin C.