Sweet potatoes for diabetics

It is always important to try and maintain a healthy well-balanced diet to prevent and control type 2 diabetes.

Dietician Helen Bond said: “The Mediterranean diet is ranked number one best diet overall for the second year running. It’s crowning was fundamentally down to it’s simplicity, likelihood of aiding short and long-term weight loss, and effectiveness agains cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Constant hunger
  • Blurry vision
  • Slow healing cuts and wounds
  • Tingling, numbness or pain in hands or feet
  • Feeling very tired

NHS said: “Sweet potatoes do count towards your 5 a day because they’re usually eaten in addition to the starchy food part of the meal. It’s best to eat them without any added salt or fat. They’re also a good source of fibre, so leave the skins on where possible to keep in more of the fibre and vitamins.”

It is always important to watch out for symptoms of type 2 diabetes and you should speak with your doctor if you suspect you might have the condition.

The main carbohydrate (read: sugar) source of the typical American dinner is either pasta, rice or potatoes. Anybody who is trying to keep their blood sugar down and improve their diabetes knows that these carbohydrates quickly convert into sugar during the digestion process, releasing a surge of insulin. This axis-of-evil blood-sugar-spikers are not a smart dining option for those looking to lose weight or lower their blood sugar levels.

Dinners are most often consumed at around 7:00 p.m. Few Americans go for very long walks after dinner or engage in other forms of exercise; the most common activity is watching T.V. Though eating occasional high-carb meals like rice, pasta and potatoes won’t necessarily guarantee inducing someone into a diabetic coma, these foods should be consumed rarely and certainly earlier in the day (lunch) so there is plenty of time to burn off the sugars.

Low-carb noodle and rice replacements like Miracle Noodle and Miracle Rice are perfect for those managing diabetes. Comprised entirely of fiber, Miracle Noodle products slightly expand in the stomach, helping you stay full, preventing the dangerous dietary pitfalls of cravings, largely brought on by consuming foods that burn up too quickly (carbohydrates).

But what about potatoes? A major staple of the American diet, can potatoes be a part of a healthy, low glycemic diet? Can they be added with Miracle Noodle products? And what’s the better potato: white or sweet?

White potatoes and the glycemic index

Baked potatoes with bacon, chives and sour cream….what carb-crazy dieter doesn’t like the sound of that mouth-watering side dish? Though adding butter or sour cream and bacon bits to a baked potato might not sound like a healthy option to some, it’s actually better than eating a potato plain.

The fat from the butter or sour cream will somewhat slow down the blood sugar spike that comes from the potato, especially a plain skinless white potato, which clocks in at a whopping 98 on the glycemic index (GI) scale. Eating the potato with the skin lowers the GI ranking to approximately 70, but even that number is way above the level considered high on the GI scale (55 and above is conisered high).

Russet potatoes and red potatoes might seem like a healthier option but really, they are not. They rank 111 and 89, respectively. Yes, 111…it’s not a misprint; it’s possible for something to rank higher than 100 on the scale. Glucose, a simple sugar also ranks higher than 100, so it’s easy to see how quickly some potatoes break down into simple sugars and raise blood sugar levels.

Sweet potatoes…lower on the GI scale but hold the fries

Boiled sweet potatoes are definitely a healthier option than white potatoes. They rank 44 on the GI scale, far lower than every variety of white potato. North Carolina State researchers confirmed in a study that sweet potatoes are low on the GI scale and can help improve diabetes.

And sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins and minerals, including, in a baked-in-skin, unsalted, one-cup serving:

  • 7 grams of fiber

  • 65% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C

  • A huge amount of Vitamin A: nearly 800% of the daily intake suggestion

  • anywhere from 12% to 30% of B vitamins

  • Nearly a third recommended intake of potassium

Though sweet potatoes clearly have the nutritional edge over white potatoes, don’t assume that ordering sweet potato fries versus regular french fries means you’re getting the same benefits as eating a steamed or baked sweet potato.

For those watching their weight and trying to improve their diabetes and avoiding heart disease, eating anything fried is highly discouraged. Sweet potatoes cooked in vegetable oil have a much higher ranking on the GI scale (70 or higher). Plus, vegetable oils turn rancid when cooked, which could be a big reason why chronic inflammation and heart disease is so prevalent in our modern society.

If you’re going to make homemade sweet potato fries from time to time, opt instead for coconut oil or even unrefined lard. Despite the connotation of lard, when it’s unprocessed and exposed to heat it does not spoil or chemically denature like vegetable oils do.

Sweet Potatoes and Miracle Noodle: Partners in a Dietary Crime, or a Match so Divine?

Nutritionists urge dieters to not eat more than one primary source of carbohydrate during one sitting. For example, never eat spaghetti and mashed potatoes. The double high-carb load of the noodles and potatoes would certainly make your blood sugar spike and then cause an energy crash. After the crash is experienced, people who are not nutritionally literate often reach for another high-carb option like a dessert.

So wouldn’t eating Miracle Noodle and a sweet potato go against the rule of eating only one major carb at a time? No, because Miracle Noodles are comprised entirely of fiber of a plant, they contain virtually no carbohydrates, ranking them zero (0) on the GI scale. So you can eat your favorite Miracle Noodle product at the same time as sweet potatoes.

In fact, here’s a couple recipes that combines both. The first one comes to Miracle Noodle courtesy of Dana McDowell.

Waldorf Miracle Rice Salad

Ingredients:

1 Sweet Potato Cubed

1 Red Apple Cubed

1 Stalk Celery Diced

1/4 Cup Dried Cranberries

Chopped Walnuts

1/4 Cup Plain Yogurt

1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice

1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1 Package Miracle Rice

Favorite Greens

Cooking instructions:

Steam sweet potato 5-6 minutes then rinse under cold water.

Whisk yogurt, lemon juice, and cinnamon together.

Combine sweet potato, apple, celery, and cranberries, and Miracle Rice. Toss with the yogurt dressing.

Serve on a bed of your favorite greens, and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Miracle Noodle with Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, and Garlicky Kale

Serves 4

Time: 20 minutes

Sea salt

1 small bunch kale, stems removed and chopped (about 8 to 10 stalks)( you can use spinach if you prefer)

1 large sweet potato, cubed (about 3 cups, skin on)

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 bags of Miracle Noodle Angel Hair, Fettuccine, or Ziti shirataki pasta

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup toasted pine nuts(optional)

Juice of ½ lemon

Red pepper flakes, to taste

Directions:

1. Put a pot of well-salted water on to boil.

2. Prepare all veggies for cooking.

3. Add Miracle Noodle to boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes. Drain and return noodles to a hot skillet and move around the pan for 1-2 minutes. This will remove some of the moisture from the noodles. Set noodles aside in a bowl.

4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, add oil, a few pinches of sea salt and sweet potatoes. Cook, uncovered, without stirring, 5 minutes. Toss potatoes once, cover skillet with lid, and cook 5 minutes more .

5. Add garlic, kale, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes. Crush a few tomatoes on the bottom of the skillet so that their juices are released (this will help steam the kale). Cook just until the kale has wilted and turns bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. (Do not overcook!) Remove from heat. Squeeze lemon juice over the vegetables. (Bonus: Lemon juice’s vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron from the kale.)

6. Toss Miracle Noodles with olive oil. Add sautéed vegetables and pine nuts and toss. Season with sea salt to taste. Serve immediately.

This recipe was adapted from a recipe by Sarah Britton, a holistic nutritionist, vegetarian chef, and the creator of the award-winning blog My New Roots. Sarah is currently a chef at three organic restaurants in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she has earned praise for her creative and adventurous recipes. A certified nutritional practitioner, she is also the founder of New Roots Holistic Nutrition, where she educates others to be an active participant in their own health and healing.

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Expert-reviewed by Ashwini S.Kanade, Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator with 17 years of experience

Bake them, mash them, grill them or deep-fry them, potatoes in any form or shape are a delight to eat! Touted to be an important food staple and the number one vegetable crop in the world, they are available all year-round in India. But did you know that potatoes are a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial plant Solanum tuberosum? They are a complex carbohydrate similar to rice, wheat and other ground provisions.

Carbohydrate options for diabetes is usually defined by the Glycemic Index value. The glycemic index rating of potatoes makes them a “bad” carb. Any GI score above 70 is high, indicating the food causes a rapid spike in blood sugar. The GI of potatoes is variable between 58 and 111; on an average, it is 78 for a boiled one and 87 for an instant cooked one.

However, potatoes are incredibly popular worldwide an, aren’t considered unhealthy unless and until deep fried. So, should diabetics really be eating potatoes? Let us find out!

First of all, Let’s Understand the Relationship Between Glycemic Index and Diabetes

According to Dr Manoj Kutteri, Wellness Director at Atmantan Wellness Centre, “Our body performs at an optimum level when the blood sugar is kept relatively constant and not fluctuating to the extremes. When the blood sugar drops too low, one becomes lethargic and experience increased hunger. If it goes very high, our brain signals the pancreas to secrete more insulin.

Insulin helps to strike a balance in the blood sugar level by converting the excess sugar to fat. The higher the blood sugar level, the more will the insulin secretion which rapidly lowers the sugar to too low level. Therefore, when one eats food that is high in GI value, they will feel a transient elevation in energy due to raised sugar, but this is followed by a cycle of lethargy, increased fat storage and even more hunger.”

Dr. Kutteri added, “although increased fat storage is not an uncommon situation, diabetics are at an even greater risk. The increase in adipose tissue or visceral fat has been found to be causing an inability of the body to process the secreted insulin known as insulin resistance, leading to an array of medical problems. The idea behind Glycemic Index is simply to minimize insulin-related problems by identifying and avoiding foods that have the greatest effect on your blood sugar.”

Potatoes are a Powerhouse of Nutrition

But even though the GI score of potatoes is high, it is packed with wholesome goodness. And its nutritionally enriching qualities cannot be denied.

Potatoes are a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fibre, and pantothenic acid. They also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity.

In fact, sweet potatoes are more nutrient dense than the regular potatoes and hence have much higher health benefits and are treated as one of the superfoods. Packed with important vitamins like A, C and B6, sweet potatoes have good antioxidant properties. They’re also an excellent source of dietary fibre, potassium and iron. And according to a recent research in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences , it is confirmed that sweet potatoes are a low-glycemic index (GI) food, which could be good news for people with diabetes.

Tricks to Make Potato Healthy for Diabetics

Dr. Kutteri suggests:

  • Eat boiled, broiled, grilled and slightly sautéed form of potatoes. Completely avoid mashed and deep-fried potatoes.
  • The healthy way of consuming potatoes is by cooking them with natural spices and herbs. Spices and herbs such as cumin, coriander, oregano, paprika, sage, thyme, rosemary, basil, sea salt etc. make a good choice.
  • One can also cook potatoes with fibre-rich vegetables to make the digestion slower and thus avoid the sugar spikes.
  • Always eat potatoes with skins on. Its skin is loaded with disease-fighting nutrients. Potato skin contains B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, calcium, potassium and many other nutrients. Potato skin also provides lots of fibre, about 2 grams per ounce. If you eat a medium-sized potato, including the skin, you’ll get nearly 4 grams of fibre, 2 milligrams of iron and 926 grams of potassium.
  • Small red potatoes with the skin are an excellent choice of potatoes for diabetics. The skin of small potatoes provides fibre, which slows digestion and absorption. And small, whole potatoes are also easier to portion control.
  • Also, consume more of sweet potatoes as they are comparatively more fibrous than regular potatoes.

What About Portion Size?

Starchy foods such as potatoes and sweet potatoes can be part of a healthy meal plan for diabetics, only when the portion size is taken into consideration strictly. Not more than 1/4th of your plate should come from starchy foods, as anything more than that can wreak havoc on the blood sugar levels of diabetics.

So, to conclude, we’d like to say that don’t avoid potatoes completely. Including the right type of potatoes that are cooked in a healthy way, can actually be good for you.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for patient awareness only. This has been written by qualified experts and scientifically validated by them. Wellthy or it’s partners/subsidiaries shall not be responsible for the content provided by these experts. This article is not a replacement for a doctor’s advice. Please always check with your doctor before trying anything suggested on this article/website.

Potato Advice for Diabetics (and Non-Diabetics)

POTATOES AND ROOT VEGETABLES

Why you may need to cut back on potatoes

Potatoes are an important part of many people’s main meal of the day, but a serving of mashed potato will raise blood glucose levels quickly. This is because potatoes are very high in the type of starch that gets digested very quickly.

The GI value of potatoes varies according to variety and type of cooking. The highest GI value is in potatoes that are freshly cooked, mashed or baked. Pre-cooking and reheating or eating cold cooked potato (for example, in potato salad) has been shown to reduce the glycaemic response by as much as a third. White potatoes and waxy potatoes contain lesser amounts of carbohydrate than red-skinned varieties. Small new potatoes are a better choice because, the younger they are when picked, the lower the carbohydrate content (and this is true of all fruit and all vegetables).

Should people with Type 2 diabetes give up potatoes?

Well, a large daily portion of mashed potato is probably not a good idea. But rather than giving up potatoes, the types of potato and the way they are eaten can be altered. Instead of cooking big starchy potatoes, small potatoes can be cooked in their skins, cooled and then reheated. And mashed potato does not have to totally disappear – it can become a mixed mash. A medium potato can be left unpeeled, cut into chunks and boiled while a similar quantity of broccoli or cauliflower is steamed on top. The two can then be mashed together. Generous amounts of spinach or kale can be included in a potato mash, or equal amounts of potato and beans mashed together – these are all ways of reducing the glycaemic response to big starchy potatoes. And don’t forget bubble and squeak – a medium potato cooked with a generous number of sprouts, mashed and then fried and served with a poached egg on top is a quick supper. As always, a moderate portion rather than a mountain of mash is key. Cooking potatoes like this may seem fiddly and time-consuming but, in theory, it reduces the glycaemic response that mashed potato alone will elicit. Rightly or wrongly (no research evidence here), it makes us feel able to eat small portions of mashed potato without feeling guilty or anxious. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of baked potatoes or chips – there is no way they can be turned into a low- or even medium-GL food.

But remember – the skins are good for you Potato skins contain a lot of fibre. They also contain high levels of potassium and vitamin C as well as other beneficial substances. It is known that potassium is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, but only if the potassium comes from natural food. As supplements taken in pill-form do not confer this benefit it makes sense to cook potatoes in their skins whenever possible. Roast potatoes are the only ones that really need to be peeled.

Potato crisps

These have a medium GI but are likely to contain a lot of salt – between 0.5–1g of salt for every small (30g) packet.

Sweet potatoes

These are not members of the potato family. They have a medium GI value but are considered nutritious because they contain high amounts of beta-carotene – the substance that makes carrots orange. Sweet potatoes take the place of ordinary potatoes in many low-GI recipes.

Parsnips

Parsnips have a GI of 97, almost as high as glucose. But, as parsnips have a medium GL of 12, a small portion of parsnip should not have the same undesirable effect on blood glucose that a small portion of mashed potato has.

In short, simply lessen the amount of potato that is on your plate, keep the skins, and substitute a sweet potato every so often. There is no reason why the potato should stop being the cornerstone of your cooking – rethought and re-approached it can continue be a source of enjoyment and nutrition.

In the past two years, six separate meta-analyses have been published on the relationship between fish consumption and type 2 diabetes. The whole point of a meta-analysis is to compile the best studies done to date and see what the overall balance of evidence shows. The fact that there are six different ones published recently highlights how open the question remains. One thread of consistency, though, was that fish consumers in the United States tended to be at greater risk for diabetes.

If we include Europe, then fish eaters appeared to have a 38% increased risk of diabetes. On a per serving basis, that comes out to be about a 5% increase in risk for every serving of fish one has per week. To put that into perspective, a serving of red meat per day is associated with 19% increase in risk. Just one serving per day of fish would be equivalent to a 35% increase in risk. But why might fish be worse than red meat?

Fish intake may increase type 2 diabetes risk by increasing blood sugar levels, as a review of the evidence commissioned by the U.S. government found. The review found that blood sugars increase in diabetics given fish oil. Another possible cause is that omega 3’s appear to cause oxidative stress. A recent study, highlighted in my video, Fish and Diabetes, found that the insulin producing cells in the pancreas don’t appear to work as well in people who eat two or more servings of fish a week. Or it may not be related to omega 3’s at all but rather the environmental contaminants that build up in fish.

It all started with Agent Orange. We sprayed 20 million gallons of the stuff on Vietnam, and some of it was contaminated with trace amounts of dioxins. Though the Red Cross estimates that a million Vietnamese were adversely affected, what about all the servicemen who were exposed spraying it across the countryside? Reports started showing up that veterans exposed to Agent Orange appeared to have higher diabetes rates than unexposed veterans, a that’s now officially recognized.

These so-called “persistent organic pollutants” are mainly man-made industrial chemicals and are among the most hazardous compounds ever synthesized. They include dioxins, PCBs, and certain chlorine-containing pesticides, all of which are highly resistant to breakdown in the environment.

Initially condemned for their deleterious effect on reproductive function and their ability to cause cancer, there is now a growing body of evidence showing that exposure to these pollutants leads to metabolic diseases such as diabetes. This is a breakthrough that “should require our greatest attention.”

For more on the role industrial pollutants may play in our diabetes epidemic, see Diabetes and Dioxins and Pollutants in Salmon and Our Own Fat.

More on the changing views surrounding fish oil supplements in Is Fish Oil Just Snake Oil?

Other foods associated with diabetes risk include processed meat and eggs. See Bacon, Eggs, and Gestational Diabetes During Pregnancy and Eggs and Diabetes, while Indian gooseberries and flaxseeds may help (Amla Versus Diabetes and Flaxseed vs. Diabetes).

Other videos on how polluted our oceans now are include:

  • Fukushima and Radioactivity in Seafood
  • Food Sources of Flame Retardant Chemicals
  • DDT in Umbilical Cord Blood
  • Food Sources of Perfluorochemicals
  • Fish Intake Associated with Brain Shrinkage
  • How Long to Detox from Fish Before Pregnancy

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 – 2015 presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More than an Apple a Day, From Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.

5 Surprising Foods that Help Fight Diabetes

Written by Amy Ramsay 30

Are you bored with sugar-free candy, low carbohydrate pasta, and endless chicken dinners? Having diabetes does not mean that your diet should be boring. In fact, it should be the opposite. Variety keeps your palate interested and ensures that you get a healthy balance of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants.

The following 5 foods may or may not be a regular part of your diet, but each has a positive effect on diabetes management and prevention. Experiment with some of the “try this” options below for an easy way to incorporate these foods into your meals.

Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a humble snack. They often sit on the shelf overlooked because of the hoards of positive press that almonds and walnuts get. Almonds and walnuts are very healthful nuts, but sunflower seeds are also full of important vitamins and minerals.

Some of the nutrients in sunflower seeds that make them unique are copper, vitamin E, selenium, magnesium, and zinc. The presence and combination of so many of these nutrients can be hard to come by in common foods.

Sunflower seeds have about 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein in an ounce of kernels. The best part is that sunflower seeds, while high in total fat (about 14 grams), contain mostly polyunsaturated fat, which researchers believe is the best type of fat to combat diabetes.

Try this: Swap out your peanuts for sunflower seeds. Or hunt down a jar of sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter for an easy way to get your fix.

Salmon
Salmon boasts numerous health benefits. It’s a great source of protein that is low in saturated fat and has important omega-3 fatty acid for excellent heart health. The combination of omega-3 and polyunsaturated fats in salmon keeps blood pressure down and protects the heart from disease. Research also shows that omega-3 fatty acid helps increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin in women.1

Salmon is so versatile and easy to prepare; it makes a great weeknight dinner. You can even buy salmon already cooked in some supermarkets for a quick dinner.

Try this: Season a filet of salmon with garlic powder, freshly ground pepper, and a pinch of salt and put it under the broiler for about 10 minutes until it browns up nicely. Alternatively, open a can of wild salmon to use instead of tuna in sandwiches or salads.

Vinegar
Vinegar has all sorts of hidden health benefits. Research has shown that vinegar has an antiglycemic effect on individuals with diabetes.2 Translation: after eating a high carbohydrate meal, vinegar helps to reduce blood glucose concentration, keeping blood sugar from spiking. Not only that, but regular intake of vinegar can decrease the risk of heart disease, which is associated with diabetes.

Try this: Instead of a creamy salad dressing, try drizzling balsamic vinegar and olive oil onto your salad. Or add some balsamic vinegar to your chicken marinade for a tangy kick.

Black Beans
Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart…. they’re also a perfect food for diabetics.

Beans are a wholesome source of complex carbohydrates and fiber. When you count carbohydrates, every gram matters. Black beans have nearly 8 grams of fiber per half cup. That means that you can subtract the fiber from the carbohydrates and get about 13 grams of carbohydrates for a 1/2-cup serving.

Fiber in black beans also slows down the absorption of glucose into the blood, which keeps blood sugar levels stable. The combination of fiber, protein, and carbohydrates in beans keeps you full, regular, and energized.

Try this: Open a can of black beans, rinse, drain, and add to salad, soup, or salsa.

Oatmeal
Oatmeal is Mother Nature’s perfect gift. It is loaded with soluble fiber, which turns into a gel in the body and sucks out bad cholesterol. Any kind of oat product—oatmeal, oat bran, oat flakes—will have a similar effect to reduce cholesterol and guard against heart disease. This gel, called beta-glucan, helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and combat diabetes.

Try this: add 1/3-cup dry oatmeal to about 3/4-cup plain, low fat yogurt. Mix in a bowl and let sit in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, toss in some fresh blueberries and enjoy an effortless bowl of homemade muesli.

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Top 10 Nuts and Seeds For Controlling Your Blood Sugar

Author Sidebar: I didn’t really care that much for nuts (or seeds) as a snack. I preferred potato chips or pretzels; or, a piece of fruit such as an apple or some grapes. But, after I recovered from my coma and returned to work, I realized that I needed something healthier than potato chips for a snack. 🙂

I started with salted, roasted peanuts; but, after doing some research, I discovered that roasted nuts tended not to be healthy because the heat caused damaged to the healthy fats within the nuts. In addition, I discovered that peanuts were one of the least healthy nuts.

So, I gradually transitioned to raw nuts (no salt, not roasted), mainly almonds, pecans and walnuts; and, sometimes macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, and pumpkin seeds.

Nuts and Seeds Help Control Blood Sugar and Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Beyond helping with blood pressure, cholesterol, weight gain, and other health issues, there are 4 major problems that nuts and seeds help address to have them quality as super fats that help reverse your diabetes.

1. Healthy Snacks: is key to help diabetics maintain proper glucose control, especially between major meals. Eating nuts and seeds make it a lot easier to prepare quick and healthy low carb snacks for diabetics.

2. Healthy Fats: is one of the areas where many diabetics are lacking from a nutrient content perspective. Nuts and seeds provide monounsaturated fats, oleic acid and Omega-3 fats to help address inflammation, oxidation, weight gain, blood glucose levels and insulin levels.

3. Cravings: is a problem area that nuts and seeds can help with because of their macronutrient and micronutrient content, especially the fat, protein and minerals.

4. Eating Fruits: can be better tolerated when eaten with a handful of nuts and seeds. Why? Because the protein and fat in the nuts and seeds offset the carbs in the fruit.

Nuts and Seeds Health Benefits

Because nuts and seeds provide plant protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, they can help a diabetic better manage his/her diabetes, especially, when it comes to eating healthy snacks.

Research shows that eating more nuts and seeds can lower your risk for cardiovascular disease by reducing blood pressure and “bad” cholesterol levels.

This is due to nuts and seeds containing heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, fiber, and protein.

The vitamins and minerals in nuts include potassium, vitamins E, vitamin B6, arginine, and folic acid — all of which also help to fight heart disease. Arginine specifically protects the inner lining of the artery walls.

Some of the many health benefits of nuts and seeds include the following:

Blood Glucose Control: Because of the protein and good fat content, most nuts and seeds help to control blood glucose levels, including postprandial blood glucose levels.

In research published online by the journal Diabetes Care (in 2011), a team of researchers led by Dr. David Jenkins (University of Toronto Department of Nutritional Sciences) reported that consuming two ounces of nuts daily as a replacement for carbohydrates proved effective with glycemic and serum lipid control for people with Type 2 diabetes.

Digestion and Weight Loss: Nuts and seeds have a high content of fiber, which helps to promote bowel movements..

In addition, fiber makes the body feel full, and inhibits the release of ghrelin, the hunger hormone.

However, avoid roasted nuts and nuts that are heavily salted or dipped in chocolate.

Increased Heart Health: Nuts and seeds contain arginine, flavonoids (including resveratrol) and healthy fats — all of which help to protect the cardiovascular system.

Cancer Prevention: Nuts contain monounsaturated fats (oleic acid) and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 fatty acids), more specifically, alpha-linoleic acid (ALA).

These fatty acids have certain anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to reduce the chances of colon, prostate, and breast cancer in test subjects.

Vitamin-E Content: Nuts and seeds contain Vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant.

Antioxidants such as Vitamin E combat the effects of free radicals in the body,; and, boost skin health by fighting the harmful effects of free radicals that lead to wrinkles and premature aging.

Vitamin E also supports immune function, increases the metabolic functions of the body, and promotes cellular repair.

Mental Health: Nuts and seeds contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which help to fight the effects of mental disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and depression.

Potassium Content: Some nuts have high levels of potassium, which works as a vasodilator to reduce blood pressure and protect the heart from various conditions.

Copper and Iron: Nuts and seeds contain copper and iron, which are needed for the proper functioning and creation of red blood cells.

Caution #1: Unfortunately, some people are allergic to nuts so be careful.

If you are allergic the reactions may include anything from mild to extremely severe, such as skin and facial irritation, swelling of the throat, respiratory malfunctions, anaphylactic shock, heart arrhythmia, vomiting, diarrhea, and gastric discomfort.

Caution #2: Because of the high fat content in most nuts and seeds, be careful not to eat too much. A handful once or twice a day as part of a healthy snack should be sufficient.

For lots of healthy snacks that include using nuts and seeds, get the Diabetes Cookbook.

Perhaps most well-known as the salty snack of choice found in nearly every baseball player’s pocket, the benefits of sunflower seeds extend way beyond their irresistible flavor and satisfyingly crunchy texture. In fact, sunflower seeds are jam-packed with a wealth of important nutrients and have been associated with a multitude of health benefits, ranging from enhanced skin health to protection against bone loss.

So whether you’re chowing down on the seeds as a snack, adding them to salads or dishes, or making sunflower seed butter out of your seeds, there’s no shortage of ways to consume sunflower seeds and take advantage of their benefits.

What Are Sunflower Seeds?

The sunflower seed is considered the fruit of the sunflower, consisting of edible kernels surrounded by a black shell. The seeds are pressed to extract their oil or dehulled and roasted or consumed as a popular snack. They can also be added to salads, bars, breakfast bowls and desserts to give dishes a crunchy and satisfying twist. They can also be used to produce sunflower butter, a popular allergy-friendly alternative to nut butters made from peanuts or almonds.

So are sunflower seeds good for you? Sunflower seeds are loaded with many important nutrients and have been associated with a number of health benefits. In particular, studies show that the nutrients and compounds found in sunflower seeds could reduce the risk of heart disease, fight against cancer, improve thyroid function and keep blood sugar steady. And best of all, sunflower seeds are delicious and versatile, making it easy to add them into a healthy and well-rounded diet.

Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

  1. Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
  2. May Help Fight Against Cancer
  3. Support Thyroid Function
  4. Combat Bone Loss and Muscle Cramps
  5. Balance Blood Sugar Levels
  6. Promote Skin Health

1. Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that is found in nuts and seeds, including sunflower seeds. (1) Thanks to their high content of vitamin E, adding sunflower seeds into your diet could help reduce chronic inflammation, a condition that’s believed to contribute to a wide array of diseases. In fact, research shows that sustaining high levels of inflammation could be linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. (2)

Consuming seeds like sunflower seeds has been shown to help lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, two of the major risk factors for heart disease. One study published in the journal ISRN Nutrition, for instance, showed that eating 30 grams of sunflower seeds each day led to reductions in total cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. (3)

Sunflower seeds are also rich in phytosterols, which are beneficial plant compounds that block the absorption of cholesterol in the body to protect against heart disease. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the amount of beneficial phytosterols present in nuts and seeds was higher in sunflower seeds than almost all other types. (4)

2. May Help Fight Against Cancer

One of the most impressive sunflower seeds health benefits is the impressive content of antioxidants, which can help fight off disease-causing free radicals and prevent oxidative damage to cells. Some research also suggests that antioxidants could play a central role in other aspects of health and disease and may even reduce the risk of conditions like cancer. (5)

Studies show that the nutrients found in sunflower seeds have chemo-preventive compounds that block cancer development by shutting off tumor growth. (6) The antioxidants found in sunflower seeds are utilized for DNA repair and work to slow the growth of mutated cancer cells. This makes sunflower seeds an excellent cancer-fighting food and a worthy addition to any anti-cancer diet.

Vitamin E has also been proven effective in studies at aiding in cancer prevention. While research is still inconclusive about the role of vitamin E supplementation in cancer prevention, studies show that getting enough vitamin E from dietary sources may be protective against several types of cancer, including breast cancer. (7)

Sunflower seeds also contain selenium, an antioxidant important for cancer prevention. Selenium has also been shown in studies to aid in DNA repair and detoxing the body of harmful, damaged cells. Selenium helps stop the proliferation of cancer cells and stalls tumor growth through apoptosis, the self-destruction of damaged cells by the own body, including those found in cancerous tumors. (8)

3. Support Thyroid Function

The thyroid gland is involved in many aspects of health, including the regulation of body temperature, heart rate and metabolism. Thyroid problems can cause a range of symptoms, including as weight gain, fatigue and abnormal body temperatures. (9)

Researchers at the National Center for Environmental Health estimate that nearly 6 percent of the United States population is affected by either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, with women and older people at a higher risk. (10) Selenium is an important mineral that’s crucial to thyroid function, and fortunately, it’s plentiful in the sunflower seed nutrition profile. In fact, one of the best ways to improve thyroid function naturally is to include more selenium and iodine in your diet from nutrient-rich foods like sunflower seeds.

4. Combat Bone Loss and Muscle Cramps

Sunflower seeds provide a high amount of magnesium, an essential mineral that the standard Western diet is often lacking. Magnesium plays many important roles within the body — it helps balance the calcium/potassium ratio within cells, is crucial to overall cardiovascular health and aids in healthy blood pressure. (11)

It’s also involved in keeping the skeletal structure healthy and helping prevent conditions related to bone loss, such as osteoporosis. Additionally, magnesium helps with blood clotting and bone calcification and is thought to reduce chronic migraine headaches, constipation, chronic fatigue, and even symptoms associated with mood disorders like depression and anxiety. (12, 13)

Pantothetic acid, another nutrient found in sunflower seeds, plays an important part in synthesizing fat, regulating hormones and maintaining healthy brain function. While a severe deficiency in pantothenic acid is not very common, mild deficiencies include symptoms like fatigue, muscle cramps and plantar fasciitis, which is a common, painful injury within the shin and feet that often affects athletes. (14, 15)

5. Balance Blood Sugar Levels

Consuming a high-fiber diet rich in foods like sunflower seeds has been shown to help balance blood sugar levels. (16) This is because fiber helps slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, preventing spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels and decreasing the chance of developing diabetes or insulin resistance.

High blood sugar levels and insulin resistance can lead to further inflammation, weight gain and even autoimmune responses. Fortunately, the powerful nutrients in sunflower seeds can help prevent the unstable blood sugar levels that many people experience due to diets too high in sugar, refined grains, sweetened beverages and processed foods. In addition to fiber, magnesium has been associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes in some studies. (17)

6. Promote Skin Health

Studies show that the antioxidant vitamin E is especially useful for maintaining youthful, strong and healthy skin. Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E in addition to essential fatty acid lipids that help keep skin hydrated and free from damage. Animal models have shown that sunflower seeds are able to keep coats and skin healthy and free from signs of damage even with age, and researchers believe that the same sunflower seeds benefits for hair and skin may also apply to humans. (18)

Related: Natto: The Fermented Soy Superfood

Sunflower Seeds Nutrition Facts

Take a look at the sunflower seeds nutrition profile and it’s easy to see why it’s considered one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Although there are relatively few calories in sunflower seeds, each serving packs in a serious punch of micronutrients like vitamin E, thiamine, manganese and copper.

One cup (about 46 grams) of dried sunflower seeds with the hull contains approximately: (19)

  • 269 calories
  • 9.2 grams carbohydrates
  • 9.6 grams protein
  • 23.7 grams fat
  • 4 grams dietary fiber
  • 15.3 milligrams vitamin E (76 percent DV)
  • 0.7 milligram thiamine (45 percent DV)
  • 0.9 milligram manganese (45 percent DV)
  • 0.8 milligram copper (41 percent DV)
  • 150 milligrams magnesium (37 percent DV)
  • 24.4 micrograms selenium (35 percent DV)
  • 0.6 milligram vitamin B6 (31 percent DV)
  • 304 milligrams phosphorus (30 percent DV)
  • 104 micrograms folate (26 percent DV)
  • 3.8 milligrams niacin (19 percent DV)
  • 2.3 milligrams zinc (15 percent DV)
  • 2.4 milligrams iron (13 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligram riboflavin (10 percent DV)
  • 297 milligrams potassium (8 percent DV)
  • 0.5 milligram pantothenic acid (5 percent DV)

In addition to the nutrients listed above, sunflower seeds also contain some calcium and vitamin C.

Sunflower Seeds vs. Flaxseeds vs. Chia Seeds

Sunflower seeds, flaxseeds and chia seeds are three of the most popular varieties of edible seeds. All three are favored for their delicious flavor, crunchy texture and stellar nutritional profiles.

There are some differences in the ways that they are typically consumed, however. For example, because the hulls of the flaxseed and sunflower seed can be very tough to digest, it’s recommended to opt for ground flaxseed over whole and to remove the shell of the sunflower seed before eating. Chia seeds, on the other hand, can be consumed as is and are often added to liquids to form a gel-like consistency.

In terms of nutrition, there are also some notable differences. Sunflower seeds calories are the highest per ounce, followed by flaxseeds and chia seeds. However, sunflower seeds are also the highest in protein and important micronutrients like copper, vitamin E and vitamin B6. Meanwhile, chia seeds are significantly higher in fiber, phosphorus and calcium while flaxseed contains a hearty dose of thiamine and manganese.

Sunflower Seeds in Ayurveda and TCM

Thanks to its concentrated nutrient profile, the sunflower seed is thought to have many health benefits and is often used in several forms of holistic medicine.

Sunflower seeds are considered a tonic in Traditional Chinese Medicine and are typically used to aid in digestion and promote regularity. Sunflower seeds are also used to help prevent coughing, hydrate the skin and improve the health of the lungs.

On an Ayurvedic diet, meanwhile, sunflower seeds are considered highly nutritive and satisfying. Spicing them up with some healing herbs and spices is an excellent way to amp up the flavor and reap the rewards of sunflower seeds as a nourishing snack.

Sunflower Seeds Dangers and Side Effects

Sunflower seeds are popular for both their rich flavor and extensive nutrient profile. They also boast a long list of sunflower seed benefits, ranging from improved thyroid function to protection against chronic disease. However, there are some downsides to this popular food that should also be considered.

Salted sunflower seeds can be high in sodium, which can contribute to high blood pressure and other issues like bone loss and kidney problems. (20, 21, 22) Opting for raw, unsalted sunflower seeds, keeping your intake in moderation and pairing them with a good variety of low-sodium foods can prevent these health problems and keep your sodium intake under control.

Sunflower seeds are also high in omega-6 fatty acids. While your body does need these healthy fats, having too many omega-6 fatty acids in your diet and not enough omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to inflammation and health problems like heart disease. (23) Be sure to include several other heart-healthy omega-3 foods in your meals throughout the day to keep your ratio of essential fatty acids in check.

Additionally, because sunflower seeds have a very high oil content, it is common for them to be used as the base for processed polyunsaturated oils. While sunflower seeds themselves are very healthy, oils made using sunflower seeds can be unfavorable because they do not hold up well to high-heat cooking.

Polyunsaturated fats can easily become rancid and undergo oxidation when you cook with them, turning them into a vehicle for toxins rather than nutrients. The high heat and pressure involved in extracting oil from something like sunflower seeds destroys their antioxidants and alters the chemical nature of the fat, creating dangerous free radicals.

Many types of polyunsaturated oils are inexpensive and widely available because they are made with cheap crops like corn and soybeans, which are often genetically modified. Unrefined coconut oil is a much better option than sunflower oil when it comes to high-heat cooking. This oil is far less processed and also has a higher heat threshold, reducing the risk of free radical formation and nutrient loss.

Where to Find and How to Eat Sunflower Seeds

Today, sunflower seeds are one of the most commonly consumed seeds and are harvested and enjoyed around the globe. There are actually three types of sunflower seeds, including linoleic, high oleic and nusun sunflowers seeds. Linoleic is the type that is commonly used by most most sunflower seeds brands. The three varieties all vary slightly in terms of nutritional value but are very similar in terms of health benefits and uses.

They can be consumed raw, sprouted, roasted, toasted and just about any way in between. They are commonly ground into sunflower seed butter, which has become an increasingly popular alternative to other nut butters over the past decade, since sunflower seeds tend to be much less likely to cause an allergic reaction that other nuts like peanuts or almonds.

Sunflower seeds that have been shelled are said to have a mild nutty taste compared to other seeds and a medium to firm texture. They are easy to incorporate into recipes since their taste is not overwhelming, and their small size makes them ideal for adding them to recipes like veggie burgers or ground mixes.

Sunflower seeds can be found in either shelled or unshelled varieties, meaning their hard husks will either be intact or removed. When choosing your seeds, look for those that are uniform in color without any major yellow spots and find seeds that are firm, plump and not broken. It is common for the shelled seeds to have black and white stripes on them, so don’t be concerned if this is what you find in stores; you can always de-shell them afterward. If you are buying sunflower seed butter, be sure to check the ingredients label to make sure no other ingredients are added like hydrogenated fats, extra flavors or thickening agents.

Because the seeds are high in delicate polyunsaturated fats, they can easily go rancid if left out in the heat for too long. You will want to preserve their nutrients and keep them from spoiling by storing them in your refrigerator in an airtight container. Keeping them this way can help them stay fresh for several months without altering their taste.

You can also try harvesting sunflower seeds from mature sunflowers. Wondering how to harvest sunflower seeds? It typically involves preparing your flowers for a drying process in which they will produce edible seeds once the back of the flower head begins to turn yellow to yellow-brown. You will want the sunflower to be completely dry in order for the seeds to fall out. This means half of the yellow petals should have dropped before you start picking out the mature seeds. Look for the seeds to begin to plump up and for their black-and-white striped shell colors to form, signaling that they are ready to consume.

Sunflower Seed Recipes

Sunflower seeds can be eaten as is for a quick and effortless snack. However, if you’re looking to mix up your intake, there are plenty of recipes available online for how to eat sunflower seeds, how to roast sunflower seeds and other ways to add them into your diet to take advantage of the unique health benefits that they provide.

Here are a few tasty and nutritious ways to add sunflower seeds into your diet with these sunflower seeds recipes:

  • Cinnamon Turmeric Super Seed Energy Bars
  • Strawberry Broccoli Salad
  • Salted Paleo Sunbutter Cups
  • Zucchini Noodles with Sunflower Seed Butter Dressing
  • Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowls

History

Sunflower seeds come from, of course, sunflowers. The name is a variation of “sun flower” because the flowers turn toward the sun as they bloom. The yellow flowers produce small, edible seeds that are gray or greenly colored and are found naturally in dark green, gray or black shells called “husks.”

According to the National Sunflower Association, sunflowers are actually native to North America, and some evidence shows that Native Americans may have been harvesting sunflowers as far back as 3000 B.C. However, they were later taken to Europe and then spread to Russia, where they were first commercialized as a crop and harvested for their sunflower seed oil. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that they were brought back to North America, where they became popular for their oil, seeds and as a beautiful addition to your garden. (24)

Precautions

Fortunately, sunflower seeds can be safely consumed by most people, and allergic reactions are rare. The seeds are not high in oxalates, purines or other substances like aflatoxins or mold that cause allergies, harm your metabolism and cause unwanted interactions with common medications.

The one thing to note about consuming sunflower seeds, however, is that they are high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. Balancing the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in your diet is key to health; consuming higher amounts of omega-6 fatty acids is linked to issues like inflammation and a higher risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer.

Keep your intake in moderation, and aim for about one ounce of sunflower seeds per day. Additionally, be sure to vary your fat intake and include other healthy sources like coconut, wild-caught fish, ghee, grass-fed butter, walnuts, flaxseeds and other omega-3 fatty acids in order to get the most health benefits from your diet overall.

Final Thoughts

  • Sunflower seeds are the edible fruit of the sunflower plant and are a popular addition to both meals and snacks.
  • Are sunflower seeds healthy? Besides providing plenty of fiber, protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals, the nutrients found in sunflower seeds have also been linked to improved heart and skin health, decreased bone loss and muscle cramps, better blood sugar levels, improved thyroid function, and protection against cancer.
  • For best results, select raw, unsalted varieties whenever possible, and steer clear of sunflower oil when it comes to high-heat cooking.
  • Spice them up for a satisfying snack or add them to everything from veggie burgers to desserts and salads to take advantage of the unique health benefits of sunflower seeds.

Read Next: Sesame Seeds Benefit the Heart & Lower Cholesterol

Broccoli and diabetes

“Eating broccoli could reverse the damage caused by diabetes to heart blood vessels”, BBC News reported. It said that researchers have found that the compound sulforaphane, found in the vegetable, encourages the production of enzymes which protect blood vessels and cause a reduction in the number of molecules that can damage cells.

This story is based on a complex laboratory study in which sulforaphane was directly applied to blood vessels that had been damaged by high blood sugar levels. It found that the compound reduced the production of potentially damaging molecules called reactive oxygen species. However, the results have been overinterpreted by the news; applying the compound in broccoli to cells in the laboratory is not comparable to eating broccoli. The blood vessel cells were not taken from a person with diabetes but had been incubated with sugar. It is unclear what effects sulforaphane would have on the blood vessels of a person with diabetes, and whether it would protect them from damage or have any effect upon the disease process. Optimal blood sugar control through diet and medication remains the best option for people with diabetes.

Where did the story come from?

Dr Mingzhan Xue and colleagues from the University of Warwick and University of Essex carried out the research. It was supported by Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, the Wellcome Trust, and the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council. The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal: Diabetes.

What kind of scientific study was this?

The aim of this laboratory study was to look at whether sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli, could prevent metabolic damage to small blood vessels caused by high blood sugar. Sulforaphane activates a protein called nrf2, which initiates the production of a number of enzymes that protect cells from potentially damaging chemicals, including a type of free radical called reactive oxygen species (ROS).

The researchers incubated cells taken from the lining of human small blood vessels with two different concentrations of sugar – low and high. They then used laboratory methods to see what effects incubation with sulforaphane had on a range of complex metabolic and biochemical pathways. The researchers used concentrations of sulforaphane that they said were representative of the levels that have been reported to be found in the blood stream after eating broccoli.

What were the results of the study?

The researchers found that activation of the protein nrf2 by sulforaphane, caused increased expression of various protective and metabolic enzymes, including three to five fold increases in the enzymes transketolase and glutathione reductase.

Incubating blood vessel cells in high sugar concentrations resulted in a three-fold increase of the potentially harmful free radical ROS, but adding sulforaphane reduced ROS levels by 73%. The enzyme transketolase played a role in this reduction. Sulforaphane also prevented the production of other chemicals that may potentially cause blood cell dysfunction in high blood sugar conditions.

What interpretations did the researchers draw from these results?

The researchers concluded that activation of nrf2 may prevent the biochemical dysfunction of cells that line the inside of blood vessels caused by high levels of blood sugar.

What does the NHS Knowledge Service make of this study?

The news report overinterpreted the results of this complex laboratory study.

  • Although the researchers say that the concentrations of sulforaphane used were limited to those ‘found in plasma after consumption of broccoli’ it is unclear how these laboratory effects would be comparable to the real life situation of eating broccoli or what frequency or quantity of consumption of broccoli would be required to mimic these effects.
  • The blood vessel cells were not taken from a person with diabetes, but had instead been incubated with sugar. Short-term incubation of cells in high sugar concentrations cannot be directly related to the situation in a person with diabetes.
  • It is unclear whether any of the biochemical and metabolic changes seen in the blood vessels would relate to functional change in the blood vessels of a person with diabetes and whether it would protect them from damage or have any effect upon the disease process.
  • The news article suggests that ‘eating broccoli could reverse damage caused by diabetes to heart blood vessels’. It is unclear from the journal article where in the body the blood vessel cells were taken from, but they were from small blood vessels – microvessels. Although poor blood sugar control can cause significant small vessel damage in the body (for example to the retina, kidney and nerve cells), heart disease as a complication of diabetes is considered to be a large vessel – macrovascular – complication.
  • There is no indication from this study how the biochemical changes could reverse damage that had already been caused.

Optimal blood sugar control through diet and medication remains the best option for people with diabetes, and broccoli should be considered only as part of a healthy diet.

Analysis by Bazian
Edited by NHS Website

Links to the headlines

Broccoli may undo diabetes damage.

BBC News, 8 August 2008

Links to the science

Xue1 M, Qian Q, Antonysunil A, et al.

Activation of NF-E2-related factor-2 reverses biochemical dysfunction of endothelial cells induced by hyperglycemia linked to vascular disease.

Diabetes 2008; Published online ahead of print July 15

Broccoli and diabetes: a winning combination

Few people will list broccoli on their list of favourite foods, but this green vegetable, which comes from the cabbage family, is a great addition to meals, especially when you have diabetes. In fact, given the health benefits around broccoli and diabetes, it may be time to start adding more of this green super veggie to your daily diet.

Why is broccoli good for you?

If ever there was a power food, broccoli is it. Broccoli is a great source of vitamins K and C. In fact, one serving of broccoli has twice as much vitamin C as an orange.

It also contains plenty of potassium, fibre and folate, which is essential in producing and maintaining your body’s cells.

Furthermore, eating broccoli helps detoxify the body by helping to eliminate unwanted, potentially harmful chemicals. Broccoli may lower your risk of many chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. Broccoli has even been linked to stronger bones and teeth, improved brain health and better-looking skin.

But it doesn’t end there! Broccoli also improves digestion and has been shown to enhance liver health.

Can broccoli help treat or prevent diabetes?

When it comes to the health benefits of broccoli and diabetes, this cruciferous vegetable strikes again.

Sulphoraphane, a chemical in broccoli, which is responsible for the anti-cancer and heart protective effects discussed above, may also play an important role in diabetes by helping to lower your blood sugar. In a recent study of obese people with type 2 diabetes, a broccoli extract containing sulforaphane helped to reduce stubbornly high blood sugar levels.

Given that you’re at higher risk of developing heart disease when you have diabetes, the sulforaphane in broccoli may be beneficial to both your diabetes, and your heart!

This low calorie, fat-free and fibre-rich vegetable is also low on the glycemic index (GI); therefore, it won’t have a large effect on your blood sugar levels. Find out more about low GI foods and why they are good for diabetes here.

How can I put more broccoli into my diet?

To get the most nutrients out of your broccoli, it is best to eat it raw! If you do need to cook it, opt for steaming or blanching broccoli in boiling water only until crunchy so you can still reap the benefits of broccoli’s sulphoraphane.

Here are some other ways to sneak more broccoli into your diet when you have diabetes:

  • Add raw broccoli chunks to salads
  • Blend broccoli into your morning smoothie or afternoon soup
  • Add it to your favorite tomato sauce
  • Make it into a hot dip to complement your favorite crackers
  • Grill it on the barbecue or roast it the oven for a unique flavour
  • Roast it in the oven, for a great side dish with your dinner
  • Eat it as a snack like you would a bowl of chips: similar satisfying crunch but so much better for you.

The bottom line is broccoli and diabetes is a winning combination. Even if you’re not a fan, this is one vegetable worth revisiting when you have diabetes.

Find more diabetes “super foods” here.

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