Did you know that an estimated 280 Australians develop diabetes every day? Even more shocking is that up to half of the cases of type 2 diabetes remain undiagnosed. Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia. When it comes to diabetes, lifestyle and diet play a large role in determining your risk of developing the disease. Along with a balanced diet and regular exercise, here are six foods you should add to your diet regularly (if not daily) to help stave off diabetes.
1. Extra virgin olive oil
For years the Mediterranean diet has come out on top when choosing a healthy way of eating. Even more specifically, a long-term study taking place in Spain which is analysing this diet has found that when the Mediterranean diet is enriched with extra virgin olive oil, the risk of type 2 diabetes in adults is significantly reduced. In fact, it’s reduced by about 1/3 when compared to adults who are following a low-fat diet.
2. Low fat yoghurt
There’s something about low-fat yoghurt! The EPIC-Norfolk study, which is following 30,000 people living in Norfolk in the UK, has found that eating low-fat yoghurt is associated with an almost 30% lower risk of diabetes. Total dairy, milk, cheese and high fat yoghurts were not associated with this reduction in risk, so there‘s something specific about low-fat yoghurt that is having this beneficial effect. Perhaps it’s the food yoghurt is being eaten in place of. For instance, the study showed that when yoghurt was eaten instead of potato chips, a person’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes was cut by half!
3. Fish & poultry
There’s no way around it, we’re a society that loves our meat! But a diet rich in red meat (especially processed meat), has been associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By choosing poultry and fish more often you can lower your risk of disease.
4. Veggies & fruit
When you eat a lot of meat and not enough fruit and veg, the result is a high dietary acid load. A French study has shown that having a high dietary acid load can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 56%! Have a smaller portion of meat when dishing up your meal, and fill at least half your plate with plant food to reduce your risk.
5. Unsalted nuts
Nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats that improve insulin sensitivity, which is shown to improve blood sugar control & lower A1c (the measure of long-term blood glucose control) in people with diabetes. This is particularly true if you replace refined carb snacks (such as rice crackers, low fat snack bars, banana bread, muffins etc) with unsalted nuts. Salted nuts however, won’t have the same beneficial effect.
A Harvard study showed eating three servings of blueberries each week is associated with a 26% reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes! Apples, bananas, grapes and grapefruit also lowered risk, but blueberries stood out as especially beneficial. Toss a handful on top of your cereal each morning. Frozen or fresh, the benefits are the same.
Author: Joanna McMillan has a PhD in Nutritional Science, is one of Australia’s best-known health experts and founder of Get Lean. Check out her website for more great articles here.