Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tidbits: Top 10 Superfoods for Diabetes

One of my patients, new to diabetes, had done some research before coming in to see me. She told me she found a top 10 diabetes superfoods list, and had been enthusiastically eating these foods.

I am a skeptic at heart, but I do look into that people tell me about. Sure enough, the American Diabetes Association had a superfoods list on their site that bears repeating.

I am not a fan of the word “superfood”, simply because nutrition is a young science; researchers are learning new things about foods, seemingly everyday. People sometimes take that as a negative, with comments such as “why are they changing their minds about nutrition all the time?” I take it as a positive, that new things are being learned regularly about the benefits of the foods we eat.

Here are the American Diabetes Association’s Top 10 Superfoods for Diabetes:

DRIED BEANS (any color)
Dried, cooked beans are loaded with fiber, protein, and some carbohydrate, and this combination of nutrients makes beans very easy on blood sugar. If you use the canned beans, rinse them first to reduce the sodium content.

Any dark green leafy vegetable is a powerhouse of nutrients. If you don’t care for kale or turnip greens, give baby spinach a try. They can be eaten as desired.

People with diabetes can be scared to eat fruit because of the natural sugars. But fruit is a good carbohydrate, and citrus has lots of soluble fiber and vitamin C. It’s the portion size of fruit that matters.

These potatoes are full of vitamin A (beta carotene) and fiber, and may have less of an effect on blood sugar than white potatoes. But portion size matters here, too.

Berries of all types are packed with antioxidants. No need to purchase exotic fruit for antioxidants; blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries have plenty. Try fresh or frozen berries with yogurt or in smoothies.

Either raw or cooked in sauce, tomatoes are full of vitamin C, iron and lycopene, with minimal effect on blood sugar.

Fish is heart healthy, especially the ones high in Omega 3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna and herring).  Aim for at least 2-3 servings a week.

This is another category of food that people sometimes skip. Why? They are afraid their blood sugar will go too high. But whole grains offer lots of benefits, such as fiber for intestinal health, magnesium, chromium and folate.

Nuts and seeds are good sources of healthy fats, but if weight loss is one of your goals, you will need to substitute the calories in nuts for the calories in another snack. Don’t just load up on nuts, or you’ll wonder where that 10 pounds came from.

The benefits from milk and yogurt start with calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones and teeth. Calcium also helps muscle contractions (so you won’t get cramps).  But portion size matters here, too, because milk contains natural carbohydrate that could raise blood sugar if you have too much.

Now that you know about the diabetes Superfoods, you may be wondering how to put them all together. Here are a couple of good diabetes cookbooks to check out.

By Patti Geil MS, RD, CDE and Tami Ross RD, CDE
Contains good general information, plus diabetic diet meal plan ideas.

Healthy Calendar Diabetic Cooking, 2nd Edition, by Lara Rondinelli, RD, CDE and Chef Jennifer Bucko

This cookbook a full year of menus and easy recipes, based on the season.