Key healthy ingredients for diabetes

Key healthy ingredients for diabetes

By
Dale Pinnock
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
978 184949 541 7

This isn’t an exhaustive or specifically prescriptive list, rather a guide to some of the goodies that should fill your fridge and kitchen cupboards on a regular basis. Thankfully you don’t have to take a trip to any weird specialist shops in Outer Mongolia. These are all good, normal, healthy and everyday foods that you will easily find anywhere.

Brown rice

OK, so grains consumed to high levels is a very very bad idea for diabetics! Even writing as a non- diabetic, I only eat them in very small amounts and not that often. However, in these smaller amounts – and when consumed with other key macronutrients in the right combinations – they will be a valuable part of the diet. Brown rice is a bit of a health food staple and one that, admittedly, does still have something of a hippyish image. But it is one of the best grain options, in my opinion. Firstly, it is a real slow burner. It has a seriously low glycaemic response. It also has a very high fibre content that slows down its digestion and therefore sugar liberation. Finally, it has a really good hit of B vitamins, too.

Bulgar wheat

Similar to brown rice, bulgar wheat has a very high fibre content and really good levels of several B vitamins, plus some magnesium to boot! As well as a lovely nutty flavour and chewy texture. Bulgar wheat is a perfect alternative to rice and is particularly good as a side with red meat and game

Mackerel

Mackerel is one of the best fish that you can consume. I know it isn’t always the most popular. However, it really is a supreme powerhouse of the omega 3 fatty acids so vital for the health of virtually every body system.

Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to increase both the sensitivity and functionality of cell receptors, including insulin receptors. They also help to drastically reduce inflammation, something that diabetics face, particularly (and vitally) within the cardiovascular system. Mackerel is also a rich source of the mineral selenium, which can assist in reducing inflammation and also in enabling the body to manufacture its own antioxidant compounds.

Oats

Another of the better choices of grain for diabetics. They have a very low glycaemic response, lots of fibre and B vitamins. And they have another trick up their sleeve. One of the major risk factors for diabetics is cardiovascular disease. Oats have been proven to reduce cholesterol, by their soluble fibre binding to cholesterol in the gut and carrying it away. A bowl of porridge a couple of times a week, or oaty toppings to vegetable crumbles, are great ways to get these in.

Parsnips

These are a great option as a stand-in for potatoes for Sunday lunches, or for a starchy side dish. This is for two reasons. Firstly, they have a very high fibre content, which will slow the release of the sugars present. Secondly, the majority of the sweet flavour that you detect when eating parsnips is given by something called inulin. This is a very complex sugar that, while small enough for our taste buds to detect, is actually complex enough to make it to the gut intact, bypassing most of the absorption sites. Inulin has the added benefit of enhancing gut flora.

Quinoa

This is probably the champion of all of the grains and certainly my go-to grain of choice when I am eating a dish that would usually call for rice as an accompaniment. It has a super-low glycaemic response and a very high protein content, creating the ultimate combination for even blood sugar in one single ingredient. When you add other proteins and fat sources to it, you get a super slow-release meal. Quinoa also contains some essential fatty acids, magnesium, B vitamins and even a small amount of iron.

Salmon

Another omega 3 powerhouse and one that definitely seems popular and palatable for most people. I would encourage you not to go for the ridiculously cheap cuts as they can have the lowest omega 3 levels. I’m not saying you need to splash out and buy wild Alaskan sockeye... just a middle-of-the-road option. I prefer the easily available Scottish farmed salmon.

Squash

Squash is another great choice for a starchy carb source in place of potatoes. Again, it is high in fibre and also packed with carotenoids. Always leave the skin on to up the fibre content. Squash is slightly less versatile than potatoes, but will make a great mash and is just heavenly roasted as a side dish.

Sweet potatoes

These are definitely one of my absolute favourite ingredients. As you have probably gathered by now, your regular everyday spud isn’t the best food in the world for diabetics. Potatoes are like sugar bombs. However, sweet potatoes are a different animal. They have a much lower glycaemic response, releasing their energy much more slowly. There is an added benefit in that they are rich in carotenoids that are beneficial for the skin and for the health of the cardiovascular system, a system that is at high risk in individuals with diabetes. Sweet potatoes have much of the versatility of regular spuds and, in 99 per cent of cases, can be used in place of them.

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