• Dr Hector Perera
It is very difficult to design a diet chart for diabetes patients. This is because all the fruits and vegetables are not good for them. There are many vegetables that may not seem starchy but they can spike your blood sugar levels. For example, potato is a vegetable that is easily identified as starchy. But could you ever guess that vegetables like beetroot or carrot cannot be a part of diet for diabetic patients? Eating the right kind of foods when suffering from diabetes can actually help you manage your condition. And the reverse of this statement is also true. Diabetics must avoid vegetables that have high sugar content. All root vegetables like carrots, turnips and even too many onions are forbidden in the diet for diabetes but not cooked, then they release the sugar slowly. However, there are set of vegetables that diabetics can feast upon without any apprehensions. These vegetables are included in the diet of diabetics because of their high fibre content. Also, the sugar content of these vegetables is not high that it will affect the blood sugar levels. Some vegetables like bitter gourd can actually help you manage your diabetes very well. Even the vegetables from the gourd family are very good foods for diabetes control. Here are some of the best vegetables for diabetics to enjoy in their meal.
Bitter melon, or Goya or “Karawila” is commonly used for beneficial health reasons. Bitter melon is also referred to as bitter gourd, Karela, or Balsam Pear. The melon has an extremely bitter taste, but it is a helpful food. Bitter melon is commonly added to stir-fry, or may be enjoyed stuffed like stuffed “Malu miris”. It may also be added to the diet as a supplement. In order to receive the full health benefits, find and cook the melon regularly.
Bitter gourd thrives in hot and humid climates, so are commonly found in Asian countries like in Sri Lanka and also in South America.
Help lower dangerous cholesterol levels with bitter melon. Reducing cholesterol significantly reduces heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. The added benefit is that bitter melon is completely natural in working with the body to prevent these health risks. High cholesterol can only be diagnosed with a blood test.
This is a very important benefit for those who have Type II Diabetes. Carbohydrates turn to sugar, and bitter melon metabolizes the sugars. Faster metabolism of carbohydrates means that less fat is stored in the body which leads to weight loss, and healthy weight maintenance. Proper carbohydrate digestion also aids in muscle growth and development.
How does it work?
Bitter melon contains a chemical that acts like insulin to help reduce blood sugar levels. Insulin regular is used with a proper diet and exercise program to control high blood sugar in people with diabetes. Controlling high blood sugar helps prevent kidney damage, blindness, nerve problems, loss of limbs, and sexual function problems. Proper control of diabetes may also lessen your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
The greens from the fenugreek plant are very useful in controlling diabetes. These mildly bitter greens help lower glucose level in the blood.
The healing properties of fenugreek are quite similar to cinnamon; due to its anti-diabetic elements, this spice is capable of controlling glucose metabolism. It also helps in preventing and treating of Type II diabetes.
Functioning in a similar manner to the well-known anti-diabetic medicine glibenclamide, this herb balances blood glucose homeostasis and reduces cellular insulin resistance. According to medical researchers, fenugreek lowers blood sugar levels of Type II diabetics by a huge percentage.
This herb, fenugreek, has a strong balancing effect on blood lipid levels and lowers the hazards of atherosclerosis. In case of diabetes, it has substantiated an outstanding ability to reduce LDL levels, triglycerides and cholesterol. One more important characteristic of this spice is its power to reduce platelet creation, which, in turn, lowers the chances of sudden blood clotting in your heart; the common consequences being strokes and massive heart attacks. Like most of the other spices, fenugreek too contains strong antioxidants. It is also beneficial in protecting other internally generated antioxidants from any kind of damage. It also shields the body against a variety of other chronic diseases.
Lady's Finger also called Okra
The gooey liquid that comes out when you cut okra helps regulate blood sugar. So, soak sliced okra in a glass of water and drink it early in the morning. Okra is very low in calories and dense with nutrients. It is high in fibre, vitamin A, C, and folate content.
It is also a good source of the B vitamins, vitamin K, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and traces of magnesium and manganese.
Okra is one of those few vegetables which have the highest content of phytonutrients and antioxidants such as beta-carotene, xanthin and lutein.
More Health Benefits
Okra is one of the best medicinal vegetable although it is not everyone’s favourite. You may like to try it if you knew about its immense health benefits:
Anaemia: Helps red blood cells production and prevent anaemia.
Anti-Cancer: The high antioxidants in okra helps protect the immune system against harmful free radicals and prevent mutation of cells.
Asthma: The high antioxidants and vitamin C content make okra useful for reducing asthmatic attacks.
Bone Strength: Folate in okra builds strong bones and density, preventing osteoporosis.
Cholesterol: The soluble fibre helps to lower serum cholesterol, thus also reducing atherosclerosis and the risk of heart diseases.
Constipation: The rich fibre and mucilaginous (slimy) content in okra pods help increase bulk, bind to toxins and ensure easy bowel movements with its natural laxative properties. Regularly eating okra also reduces the risk of colon cancer.
Diabetes: It has insulin-like properties that help to reduce blood sugar level.
Gut flora: The fibre helps improve the population of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Immune Booster: The high antioxidants and vitamin C content make okra a good immune booster food that reduce your catching the cough and cold.
Peptic Ulcers: The mucilaginous content provides a temporary coating to the digestive tract and stomach lining while healing the ulcers.
Pregnancy: The rich folate content in okra can help decrease the incidence of neural tube defects in babies.
Skin Health: With good bowel movements, skin health will improve. Helps reduce acne, psoriasis and other skin conditions.
Vision Health: Okra contains beta-carotenes (precursor of vitamin A), xanthin and lutein, all antioxidant properties that are helpful for vision health, preventing eye problems like cataract and glaucoma.
Bottle Gourd or “Labu”
A glass of bottle gourd juice in the morning can help you manage your diabetes much better than taking insulin supplements. Lauki or gourd is one of the well-known vegetables in the market which has wonderful taste. Along with its tastes, it also has variety of health benefits. There are different variety of gourds in the market with different names such as ghiya, bottle gourd, doodhi, calabash gourd etc. Apparently it is green in its outer surface with a waxy finish. Once you cut it from the middle, a soft spongy appearance that is white in colour will be found. Some people take out the outer surface of gourd and makes pieces of the inner portion.
Bottle gourd contains the 92% water and the remaining is easily digestible fibre. So it is the easily digestive food. The glucose and sugar related compounds are nearly nil in the bottle gourd. So it the one of the food option for the diabetic patients. Bottle gourd helps to reduce the blood sugar levels. Take the bottle gourd in the daily diet or to make the habit of drinking the bottle gourd juice daily helps a lot to the diabetic patients. It helps reduce the inflammations in the liver and kidneys.
Not forgetting cauliflower and pumpkin also classed as healthy vegetable. With all this list some people must be wondering, to have a pint or two followed by a takeaway such as fish and chips or chicken and chips or hamburgers? Then comes the time for some fags, what do you say? Your comments are welcomed firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Hector Perera