Superfoods for Type 2 Diabetes
The American Heart Association recommends including fish in your diet at least two times per week. When it comes to fish, salmon is an excellent low-mercury, high lean protein, and high-omega-3 fatty acids option.1 Omega-3 fatty acids can help promote heart health, may reduce your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke, and are associated with healthy brain aging.2,10Inflammation contributes to chronic disease, so focusing on anti-inflammatory foods like those rich in omega-3’s and fiber will reward your body!
Salmon meal ideas
Create a balanced meal of grilled or baked salmon paired with a whole grain, such as brown rice or quinoa, and a side of your favorite vegetables. It’s also delicious in fish tacos with a healthy veggie slaw. Choose mini corn tacos to boost fiber and its anti-inflammatory effect. Fresh or frozen salmon are both great options. When preparing the filet, boost flavor without extra salt by using herbs and spices such as fresh garlic, garlic powder, lemon, dill, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, or chili powder. Fresh and dried herbs pack their own antioxidant punch. When cooking, make sure that the internal temperature reaches at least 145°F.3
2. Nuts and seeds
When it comes to fats, nuts and seeds are an excellent choice. Both are full of a type of fat called unsaturated fat. Eating unsaturated fats instead of saturated fats (found in meat and full-fat dairy products) can help improve your cholesterol levels and support heart health.4
Ways to enjoy nuts and seeds
There are countless ways to enjoy nuts and seeds! Spread nut or seed butter on a few whole-grain crackers (100% whole grain without added sugar) with a dash of cinnamon, or pair it with celery, or banana or apple slices for a yummy snack. Make a trail mix with nuts and seeds to eat with a serving of fresh fruit, or sprinkle them over your salads. Add nuts or seeds to morning oatmeal (which also contains heart-healthy beta-glucan fiber!) or to your smoothie bowl.
Avoid carb overload
Avoid carb overload in your bowl by adding a couple of teaspoons of nut butter (for healthy fat), a serving of fruit, and non-fat Greek yogurt for protein, along with a few tablespoons of oatmeal for an extra heart-healthy boost of beta-glucan. When making a smoothie bowl, add the fruit last so it’s not blended completely. This allows your body to do some of the work digesting it and will keep your blood glucose in check.
Watch for sodium and calories
Opt for unsalted nuts to keep your sodium intake down, and try roasted nuts and seeds for a deeper flavor. Look out for walnuts in particular, which have a type of omega-3 fatty acid that has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and are healthy for your gut - your largest immune system organ! Just keep in mind that nuts are calorie-dense foods, so make sure to keep portions small when adding them to your diet.
In addition to adding a flavor boost to your day, including more blueberries may also contribute to health benefits. Blueberries are among the fruits highest in antioxidant power and can actually protect your DNA! They decrease free radical damage to DNA that can lead to cancer, help protect vision and memory, can lower cholesterol levels and help with brain health. Research has found that eating foods that contain anthocyanins, or the red, blue, or purple plant pigments, can help decrease one risk of developing type 2 diabetes a fact to pass on to other family members at risk.5,6
Add blueberries to smoothies, oatmeal, and salads, enjoy alone as a snack, or pair with low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt for a healthy dessert. To save money, you can also buy them frozen. Look for wild blueberries that have nearly double the amount of antioxidants!
4. Whole grains
Research has shown that consuming whole grains may be linked to a decreased risk of developing some cancers and heart disease.7 Whole grains are also a great way to boost your intake of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Oats are a superstar among whole grains, high in antioxidants and beta-glucan. New research shows that the link between eating oatmeal and cholesterol reduction is even stronger than we thought in the past. Oats lower bad cholesterol without impacting the good. It makes them less susceptible to oxidation too (oxidation causes hardening of the arteries).
Shopping for whole grains
When shopping for whole grain products, make sure to check the ingredient list and nutrition label. Look for the word “whole” listed as the first ingredient (for example, whole wheat), and look at the fiber content to find choices that are higher in fiber. Also, don’t be fooled by the term ‘multi-grain'. If a product is multi-grain, that simply means it has a variety of different grains, but you’ll have to check the ingredient list to find out if they are whole grains or refined.
You can find whole-grain in products such as bread, tortillas, or pita bread. Whole grains also include spelt, teff, bulgur, whole-wheat pasta, and oats. Stop by the grain aisle in your grocery store and find a new one to try this week! Remember to pair whole grains with a lean protein and heart-healthy fat, like a cold grain salad with avocado and chicken breast. If you’re not sure how to balance your carb intake, read Use Mixed Meals to Balance Your Blood Sugar.
5. Magnesium-rich foods
Studies have found a low intake of magnesium in people with type 2 diabetes.8 Magnesium is an important mineral involved in over 100 metabolic processes. With this in mind, including foods rich in magnesium is important. Magnesium is present in a wide range of foods, including almonds, spinach, cashews, peanuts, soymilk, black beans, edamame, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, avocado, baked potato (with skin), brown rice, and yogurt.9
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