Whether you’re diabetic or prediabetic, healthy eating means more than just avoiding sugar.
Revamp your grocery list to include more of these foods and managing sugar will feel less bitter.
Not just great brain food but a good friend of diabetics too. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that those who eat walnuts show greater reduction in fasting insulin levels. “The polyunsaturated fats in walnuts help lower ‘bad’ cholesterol and raise levels of HDL (good cholesterol),” states Dr AK Jhingan, chairman, Delhi Diabetes Research Centre, New Delhi. Include 30gm of walnuts in your daily diet.
"Almonds stabilise blood sugar levels,” says Dr Richa Chaturvedi, diabetic endocrinologist, PSRI Hospital, Delhi. They are a low Glycemic Index (GI) food so they keep a check on after-meal spikes in insulin.
Foods with low GI are absorbed slower. Almonds are also loaded with ‘good’ fats that help reduce insulin resistance and make blood sugar easier to control. Munch on 5-6 almonds daily.
Say Yes to Apples
Apples are beneficial for diabetics. "Its phytochemicals, particularly the flavonoid quercetin, helps mop up free radicals, which can lead to elevated blood sugar levels," points out nutritionist Neelanjana Singh of Heinz Nutri Life Clinic, Delhi.
Apples also delay diabetes-related damage to eyes, kidneys and nerves.
"Foods with GI lower than 55 are good for diabetics. Brown rice has a GI of 49.8. It helps increase insulin sensitivity, and reduces hunger," explains Ritika Samaddar, chief nutritionist, Max Hospital, Saket, Delhi.
Go for Oats
"Eat oats early in the morning to keep blood sugar levels under control for the rest of the day. In addition, oats offer satiety for several hours and are perfect to control weight,” says Dr Chaturvedi.
Oil for health
"Replace saturated fat with sources of mono unsaturated fats (MUFA) as it helps cut insulin resistance,” states Dr Jhingan. “Olive oil is a good choice as it also stops heart-threatening plaque from depositing on artery walls. It helps cut the heart disease risk tremendously," he adds.
Don't abandon carbohydrates; just choose the right kind and portion. "Going whole is the right way to go. Whole grains contain all three parts of the grain (bran, germ and endosperm), making them more complex to break down," says Singh. "That is why wholegrain pasta is an excellent choice for a diabetic. Just keep portions small.”
It is important to snack smart. A snack is a bridge between meals; it helps to take the edge of hunger and also helps keep dangerous starvation at bay. These foods make for healthy snacks, regardless of your blood sugar level:
Fruits like apples, guavas, pears, oranges or 10-12 small pieces of ripe papaya.
Marie biscuits with green tea.
Mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds).
Idlis (fermented food is good) with light mint chutney.
Brown bread sandwich with cucumber, tomatoes and lettuce.
Sweet potato chaat sprinkled with lots of spices and lemon juice.
Pan-fried sprouts tikki (made with kala chana sprouts and besan).
Spicy popcorn without any butter.
Neelanjana Singh and Dr Richa Chaturvedi
Eat small meals frequently, say after every 2-3 hours.
Include fibre in your diet like salads and green vegetables.
If you eat a lot of rice, ensure that you supplement your diet with fibre.
Use healthier cooking methods like broiling, baking, grilling and roasting. Avoid fried foods.
Avoid excess use of artificial sweeteners as they can cause headaches, lack of sleep and pain in abdomen.
Choose lean protein sources like chicken without skin, fish, low-fat dairy, legumes and sprouts.
(Dr Richa Chaturvedi and Dr AK Jhingan)
From HT Brunch, November 10
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