The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that one out of every three American adults has pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes occurs when your blood sugar is higher than what’s considered normal, but not as high as those with diabetes.
Losing weight and increasing exercise are the most effective ways to prevent prediabetes from becoming type 2 diabetes. But studies show that eating certain foods may also help lower blood sugar.
Seasoning your food right, eating certain fruits, and eating the right kind of fats might help you stave off diabetes. Click through the slideshow for a list of healthful items to start adding to your regular diet.
You may think of cinnamon and sugar together on toast. But cinnamon is potent in reducing blood sugar and reducing the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. A 2011 meta-analysis of several studies showed that both whole cinnamon and cinnamon extracts lower fasting blood glucose.
A 2013 review echoed that finding. It discovered that cinnamon reduced fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol, while raising “good” HDL cholesterol.
But beware. There are several different kinds of cinnamon that produce different results. Saigon cinnamon contains high levels of coumadin, a blood thinner. Ceylon cinnamon may be safer. But taking large doses of cinnamon can be dangerous. Talk to your doctor before starting any supplement or eating plan.
Fenugreek is a spice whose leaves and seeds are commonly used in South Asian food. Fenugreek seed is related to beans. It’s used as a supplement for nursing mothers, and in a wide range of herbal medicines.
A 2013 review of herbal food supplements found compelling evidence that fenugreek does lower blood sugar levels in people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes as well as those with prediabetes.
The fiber in fenugreek seeds is effective in slowing down digestion of carbohydrates. This may explain its effect on blood sugar. It’s also full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Fenugreek can be taken as a pill, but it also can be taken as a tea, or added to a wide variety of tasty recipes.
Vampires Beware: GarlicGarlic has been used for years to lower cholesterol levels (and ward off those pesky vampires). But it also shows promise for lowering blood sugar. A 2006 study in rats and a 2012 study in rabbits showed that garlic extracts may lower blood sugar. Garlic extracts increased the amount of insulin available in people with diabetes.
Similar studies have shown that onions also have positive effects on blood sugar. Despite the risk of bad breath, garlic and onions make food taste good. And it turns out that it’s good for you too. So go ahead and order that garlicky pesto. Garlic and the monounsaturated fats in the pine nuts are great for your blood sugar.
Friendly Fats: Avocados and NutsMonounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are important components of a healthy blood sugar eating plan. MUFAs are a key nutrient in some fabulous foods like avocados, nuts and seeds, olives, flax, and olive oil.Avocados have been shown to lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of illnesses including diabetes. Studies comparing a high carbohydrate diet with a diet high in MUFAs showed that MUFAs improve fasting and average blood glucose. They also lower insulin resistance, a part of prediabetes where the body’s cells don’t respond to the insulin that the body makes.MUFAs also increase feelings of satisfaction after eating, and have a healthy impact on blood pressure and inflammation.
Anthrocyanins are nutrients found in colorful plants, especially in vegetables and fruits. They’re also found in tea, honey, wine, nuts, olive oil, and even chocolate. Blue, purple, or red-skinned fruits have the highest concentrations. And blackberries and blueberries are the biggest sources of anthrocyanins.
Blueberries are also an awesome source of soluble fiber and a number of other important nutrients. A 2010 study reported the benefits of adding blueberries to the diet of obese people who had prediabetes. After a couple of blueberry smoothies a day for six weeks, insulin sensitivity increased. Their blood sugar levels were more even if their cells were more sensitive to the insulin they produced.
The nutrients found in blueberries don’t just improve insulin sensitivity. They directly affect blood sugar after a meal. Anthrocyanins inhibit certain digestive enzymes. This slows down digestion and prevents spikes in blood sugar after starch-rich meals. at Your Colors: Cherry Reds
Cherries, especially tart cherries and dark sweet cherries, are chock full of anthrocyanins. A 2014 study concluded that women who ate diets higher in anthrocyanins had improvement in insulin resistance and lower levels of inflammation.
Insulin resistance prevents insulin from working properly to control blood sugar in normal ranges. Eating a diet high in anthrocyanins can mean improved use of insulin and lower blood sugars. A Spoonful of Vinegar Makes the Sugar Go DownAPPle cider vinegar has been popular in health food circles for a long time. It seems there is something to the hype. The acetic acid in vinegar reduces certain enzymes in the stomach.A study published in Diabetes Care reported that drinking a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water before eating has benefits. It helped increase sensitivity to insulin and reduced a spike in blood sugar after eating starchy food in those with prediabetes as well as those with type 2 diabetes.
coffee and Beyond
Numerous other foods — from chia seeds to barley and lemons to sweet potatoes — that may help your efforts to reduce blood sugar levels. There’s even a new study suggesting that increasing your coffee intake by one cup a day may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by more than 10 percent.
But the most important way to avoid the onset of diabetes if you are insulin resistant is to lose weight and exercise. No one food or supplement is going to take the place of the long-term, positive benefits of weight loss and increased activity levels.
Still, a pinch of cinnamon in your morning coffee and a bowl of blueberries might be a good way to start the day!