Health

Foods that lower blood sugar

Oct. 28, 2013 at 7:32 PM ET

Cut your risk of developing prediabetes by adding these delicious foods to your diet.

Lima Beans

Also known as butter beans because of their creamy texture, lima beans are high in soluble fiber. “Soluble fiber slows digestion and prevents blood sugar from rising too quickly after you eat,” says Angela Ginn-Meadow, R.D., a diabetes educator and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Best bet: Never eat raw lima beans—they contain a cyanide-like toxin that can make you sick.

Other beans with lots of soluble fiber: Kidney, navy, black, pinto

Try this: Choose fresh lima beans over frozen when you can, suggests Carol Hildebrand, coauthor of 500 Three-Ingredient Recipes. “Shell the beans, simmer them for about 25 minutes and drain. Then saute with chopped ham, diced red onion and a dash of red pepper or vinegar.”

Oatmeal

This chewy breakfast staple is another super source of soluble fiber, which keeps blood sugar on an even keel and may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.Best bet: Make your oatmeal the old-fashioned way, using rolled or steel-cut oats. Instant oatmeal tends to be lower in fiber and flavored versions are high in sugar, says Ginn-Meadow. Other sources of soluble fiber: Ground psyllium seeds, Brussels sprouts, pears, oranges, grapefruit 

Try this: Add sauteed apples to your oatmeal, suggest Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, authors of The Flavor Bible. “Heat a little apple juice in a pan, add thinly sliced or diced peeled apples and cook on medium-high heat until soft.” Sprinkle with cinnamon and stir them into your oatmeal.

Peanuts and Peanut Butter

Whether you eat a handful of peanuts or a PBJ, the fat, fiber and protein in these nuts can stave off blood sugar spikes. And that’s not all—a study found that women who ate peanut butter (or an ounce of nuts) five or more times a week lowered their risk of type 2 diabetes by nearly 30 percent.Best bet: Although peanuts contain healthy fats, they’re also high in calories, so pay attention to portion size. An ounce of peanuts is roughly 40 nuts, or about a handful. Other healthy nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pecans

Try this: Liven up your salads by toasting peanuts on a cookie sheet in a 300-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, shaking the pan every 3 or 4 minutes, and then sprinkling them over greens. Add chopped mango and toss with sesame dressing for a Thai-style salad.

Vinegar

As far back as Hippocrates, vinegar has been used to cure a wide range of ailments. The acetic acid in vinegar—the compound that’s responsible for its tart taste and smell—may help stabilize blood sugar levels after eating, even in people with type 2 diabetes.Best bet: There’s a wide variety of vinegars out there—have a selection on hand so that you can experiment with different ones. Other flavorful vinegars: Balsamic, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar

Try this: Drizzle balsamic vinegar on fresh tomatoes or strawberries, or use as a dip for ripe pear slices.

Cinnamon

This tasty toast topper packs a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant punch, and may help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin’s ability to respond to glucose in the blood.Best bet: Keep cinnamon fresh by storing it in a glass jar in the fridge. Another healthy spice: Cloves, which may also help lower your glucose levels.

Try this: Think Indian and make a garam masala—a dried-spice blend that typically includes cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, coriander, black pepper, cumin and ginger. Use it to season savory dishes such as seared salmon or roast chicken.

Grapefruit

Not only do grapefruits have plenty of vitamin C, they also contain naringenin, an antioxidant that appears to cut the risk of developing insulin resistance. Researchers found that mice given naringenin supplements were able to control glucose levels in their blood no matter how much they ate, plus they had lower cholesterol than mice fed a similar diet but without naringenin. Best bet: Grapefruit interferes with the absorption of certain medications, causing higher than normal blood levels of the drug. If you take a medication for high cholesterol or blood pressure, or a neurological, psychiatric or immunosuppressive drug, check with your doctor before adding grapefruit or grapefruit juice to your diet. Other sources: Tomatoes (with their skins), Seville oranges, tangelos

Try this: For a refreshing salad, “toss peeled grapefruit sections with chilled crabmeat and fresh mint,” Karen Page recommends.

Spinach

This leafy green is a great source of magnesium, a mineral that helps regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. People with type 2 diabetes often have lower levels of magnesium in their blood. Best bet: Prewashed spinach can save time in the kitchen, but to make sure it’s bacteria free, buy bags as far from their use-by dates as possible and rinse before using. Other sources of magnesium: Halibut, almonds, cashews, soybeans 

Try this: For a change of pace, make a hot spinach salad. Saute mushrooms and garlic in a little olive oil, toss immediately with fresh spinach—the leaves will wilt somewhat—and flavor with a little more oil and vinegar to taste.


A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.

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