Looking for a way to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, and risks for life-threatening chronic diseases? People with many health conditions, including diabetes, need to closely monitor their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose. With this in mind, the American Diabetes Association released its list of diabetes superfoods earlier this week. The list offers 10 foods that have nutrients necessary for good diabetes management, including fiber, potassium, healthy fats, magnesium and antioxidants. The nutrients included in these foods can promote good health and help prevent some of diabetes serious complications, such as heart attacks and strokes.
The beauty of this list of superfoods is that all of the items have a low glycemic index (GI) and provide key nutrients–such as calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A, C and E–these nutrients are often lacking in a typical Western diet. The following list comes directly from the American Diabetes Association:
1. Beans. Whether you prefer kidney, pinto, navy or black beans, you can’t find more nutritious foods than beans. Their high fiber content gives you nearly one-third of your daily requirement in just 1/2 cup. Beans are also are good sources of magnesium and potassium, important nutrients for people with diabetes. Although they are considered starchy vegetables, a 1/2 cup provides as much protein as an ounce of meat without the saturated fat. To learn about cooking dried beans, see Cool Beans.
2. Dark green leafy vegetables. These powerhouse foods such as spinach, collards, and kale are so low in calories and carbohydrates, you can eat as much as you want.
3. Citrus fruit. Grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes provide part of your daily dose of soluble fiber–important for heart health–and vitamin C.
4. Sweet potatoes. This starchy vegetable is packed full of fiber and vitamin A (as carotenoids)–important for vision health. Try these in place of regular potatoes for a lower GI alternative.
5. Berries. Blueberries, strawberries and other varieties are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. Make a parfait alternating the fruit with light, non-fat yogurt for a new favorite dessert.
6. Tomatoes. Everyone can find a favorite with this old standby. No matter how you like your tomatoes–pureed, raw, or in a sauce–you’re eating vital nutrients like vitamin C, iron, and vitamin E.
7. Fish with omega-3s. Salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, halibut, and herring are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for heart health. Stay away from the breaded and deep fried fish. They don’t count toward your goal of 6-9 ounces of fish per week.
8. Whole grains. These grains, such as pearled barley and oatmeal, are loaded with fiber, potassium, magnesium, chromium, omega-3 fatty acids and folate. The germ and bran of the whole grain contain the important nutrients a grain product has to offer. Processed grains, like bread made from enriched wheat flour, do not have these vital nutrients.
9. Nuts. An ounce of nuts can go a long way in providing key healthy fats along with hunger management. Nuts also give you a dose of magnesium and fiber. Some nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flax seeds, also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
10. Fat-free milk and yogurt. Everyone knows dairy can help build strong bones and teeth. In addition to calcium, many fortified dairy products are a good source of vitamin D. More research is emerging on the connection between vitamin D and good health.
By Melissa Breyer, Senior Editor, Healthy & Green Living