(NaturalNews) If you've been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, your doctor has probably already advised you to limit simple sugars in your diet, avoid highly processed carbs and perhaps even increase your intake of whole grains, leafy greens and vegetables. These are your first steps toward better health. But, what if there were foods that had very targeted effects on blood sugar and type 2 diabetes? Here are 10 foods that lower blood sugar, support pancreatic health and may lessen your need for insulin.
- Blueberries - Blueberries are not only yummy; they are packed with flavonoids and antioxidants. Their high fiber content and high levels of vitamin C and E make them the ideal blood-sugar-stabilizing food. You can enjoy blueberries fresh or frozen year round. Use them in fruit smoothies, on top of whole-grain cereal or even just plain. Blueberries are naturally sweet and need no condiments of any kind. You can even enjoy their benefits cooked in whole-grain pancakes or muffins. A study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, "Cooking Does Not Decrease the Hydrophilic Antioxidant Capacity of Wild Blueberries," showed that, whether blueberries where baked, steamed or even microwaved, their antioxidant activity was not reduced.
- Garbanzo beans - Sometimes called chick peas, garbanzo beans are high in fiber and low in fat. Garbanzo beans are also high in protein and can replace animal proteins in your diet -- such as red meat, milk and cheese -- which are high in saturated fat. You can cook garbanzo beans at home or use them canned; just be sure to choose the low-salt variety. Garbanzo beans are great when chilled and added to a green salad. They can also be used in soups, as a meat substitute in spaghetti and chili, or pureed and mixed with olive oil to make hummus.
- Apples - Apples are high in fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C. Apples are easy to add to your diet. They can be served up as apple sauce or sliced into a Cobb salad. Apples are easy to add to a brown-bag lunch, as well. Just wash one and drop it in. If you don't like the mild flavor of Red Delicious apples, try some of the newer varieties. Fuji and Gala apples have a wonderful, tangy, straight-from-the-tree flavor.
- Broccoli - Broccoli is high in fiber and a good natural source of chromium. Both fiber and chromium have been proven to be beneficial in treating diabetes. Broccoli can be lightly steamed and served with a touch of olive oil and sea salt. It can also be added to salads and sandwiches.
- Avocados - Most of us know that avocados are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats which can lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease. A 2008 study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2) has also shown that unsaturated vegetable fats can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. You can add avocados to your diet as guacamole, diced in a salad or sliced onto a sandwich. Buy avocados that are firm and dark green, then let them ripen until they turn nearly black and develop their signature rich, nutty flavor.
- Asparagus - One serving of asparagus has only 5 grams of carbohydrates and a mere 20 calories yet is high in fiber, antioxidants and folate. It also has glutathione, which has been shown to lower blood sugar and increase insulin production.
- Almonds - Almonds are packed with protein, fiber and polyunsaturated fats. All of these are the ideal components of a healthy diet. Almonds have been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. The good fats in theses nuts slow digestion, stave off hunger and delay pancreatic fatigue. You can enjoy roasted almonds as a snack. They can also be added to salads and are good when thinly sliced and sprinkled over many Asian dishes.
- Kale - Kale, according to The World's Healthiest Foods (3), is rich in fiber and in vitamins E, C and A, all of which have been shown to help stabilize blood glucose levels. While some people enjoy kale raw in salads, for the biggest nutritional punch and ideal flavor, steam it lightly for five minutes and then let it rest five minutes before serving. Don't add butter or salt, or you're negating many of kale's health benefits.
- Cranberries - Many people think of these as a seasonal dish, but cranberries should be part of your year-round diet. They are high in phytonutrients such as anthocyanin which can help lower blood glucose levels.
- Oats - Oats are high in soluble fiber. A diet high in fiber can, according to a document published by the Harvard School of Medicine (4), prevent constipation, lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels. Because the fiber in foods is digested differently than other carbohydrates, it does not require insulin and passes through the digestive track intact. This has the benefit of helping you feel full without altering your blood sugar levels.