What Are the Best Breads for People with Diabetes?

Is bread an option for people with diabetes?

 

Food may be one of life’s simple pleasures. When you’re living with diabetes, deciding what to eat can get complicated. Foods that contain a lot of carbohydrates can spike your blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates are found in many different kinds of food, including desserts, grains, fruit, milk, vegetables, and bread. Giving up carbs completely isn’t realistic, healthy, or even necessary. What matters is that you’re aware of your carb intake and making nutritious food choices.

Breads can often be high in carbs. Some are overly processed, high in sugar, and filled with empty calories.

Healthier options can be part of a satisfying meal plan. If you’re trying to figure out which breads work best for diabetes management, this information may help.

Understanding diabetes

When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make or use enough insulin to process food well. Without enough insulin, your blood sugar levels can spike.

You may also have high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This means it’s important to keep an eye on fat and sugar intake.

Type 1 diabetes requires insulin injections daily and following a specific type of eating plan. This plan is geared toward keeping your blood sugar levels low.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you often follow an eating and exercise regimen geared toward reducing blood sugar. If diet and exercise aren’t enough to control your blood sugar, insulin injections or oral medication may be a part of a daily regimen.

Creating a food plan, making smart nutritional choices, and watching carbohydrate intake is recommended with both types of diabetes.

How can meal plans help?

Creating a meal plan can help control your blood sugar and provide satisfying nutrition. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan. It may help to try different ones to see which works best. Your doctor or dietitian can also help guide your choices and make recommendations.

Here are some meal plans to consider. Each plan emphasizes slow-digesting, high-fiber choices to minimize sudden blood sugar changes.

Carb counting

The carb counting method works by establishing a maximum number of carbs you can eat at each meal. There isn’t one number for everyone. Everyone’s carb intake should vary based on their exercise level, current health, and any medications they’re taking.

This meal plan, like all others, requires portion control. You also need to learn which types of carbs to eat, as well as how much.

There are three kinds of carbohydrates:

  • Complex carbohydrates, or starches, can be healthy and filling when eaten in appropriate amounts.
  • Sugar isn’t beneficial because it spikes blood sugar and adds empty calories to meals.
  • Fiber helps control blood sugar levels. The Joslin Diabetes Center recommends eating between 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day.

The plate method

The plate method doesn’t require carb counting.

Instead, half of your plate should include non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, green peppers, or kale. One quarter of your plate should contain grains and starchy foods, such as beans or bread. The remaining quarter should be filled with protein-rich foods.

Depending on your overall meal plan, you can add a serving of fruit daily. A low-calorie drink like unsweet tea or water should complete your meal.

Exchange lists

Exchange lists group similar foods together so they can be substituted easily for each other. You can find an example exchange list here. Every food on the list has the same nutritional value.

Breads are on the starch list. Each item on this list has approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein, a small amount of fat, and 80 calories. One slice of bread represents one exchange.

How to make bread part of your meal plan

When deciding which breads to buy and which to avoid, make sure you read the nutritional information thoroughly.

The American Diabetes Association recommends choosing whole grain bread or 100 percent whole wheat bread instead of white bread. White bread is made from highly processed white flour and added sugar.

Here are some delicious and healthy breads to try:

  • Joseph’s Flax, Oat Bran and Wheat Pita Bread. You can’t have an authentic Mediterranean-style meal without pita pockets. This low-carb version has 8 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fiber per pita.
  • Food for Life’s 7 Sprouted Grains Bread. High in protein and fiber, this flourless bread has 15 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber per slice. Flavorful and filling, it’s perfect for breakfast, especially when toasted and served with poached eggs and berries. Other Food for Life breads and products are also good choices.
  • Alvarado St. Bakery’s Sprouted Wheat Multi-Grain Bread. This dense, rich bread gets its slight sweetness from molasses and honey. Despite the indulgent taste, it still packs a nutritional punch. Each slice has 15 grams of carbs, 5 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber.

Breads that are homemade, available at farmers markets, and made at local bakeries may be higher in fiber and lower in sugar. They will likely be less processed than those on grocery store shelves.

Processed foods are usually digested and absorbed faster. This can raise blood sugar levels.

With options like these, you may find it easier than you think to limit or remove less healthy breads from your meal plan. Consider eliminating high-carb options such as:

  • Pillsbury’s Date Quick Bread and Muffin Mix. At 28 grams of carbohydrates and 14 grams of sugar per slice, you may want to reserve these for special occasions or for company only.
  • Starbucks’s Butter Croissant. You’re probably better off eating breakfast at home than picking up this breakfast croissant with your morning coffee. Each one has 32 grams of carbs, less than 1 gram of fiber, and 11 grams of saturated fat.

Outlook

When you have diabetes, healthy eating requires learning about healthy meal choices. This information will help you determine which meal options work best for managing your blood sugar.

When it comes to choosing bread, reading labels and understanding nutrition facts can put you on the right track.

Look for bread that has the lowest amount of sugar, doesn’t have added sugars and is high in fiber, at least 3 grams per serving. A good rule of thumb is to look for a short ingredient list. In addition, remember that different breads affect people differently.

Consider checking your blood sugar before and after eating bread several times to understand how your body responds.

You may find that bread may have to be viewed more as a treat rather than a daily part of your diet based on your glucose response.

Consider creating a meal plan and talk to your doctor about other best practices for you.

Can You Eat Oranges If You Have Diabetes?

That’s because people with diabetes have to keep a careful eye on their blood sugar levels, which are affected by their diet. In fact, diet, exercise, and medications are the best ways to keep your blood sugar levels in check (1).

There’s a common misconception that fruits — including oranges — are bad for people with diabetes and shouldn’t be eaten (2).

In actuality, oranges can be a healthy part of a diabetes-friendly diet — though you may have to limit your intake.

This article explains how oranges affect people with diabetes.

fresh oranges in a bag

Benefits for people with diabetes

Oranges are bursting with good nutrition thanks to their fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When eaten in moderation, this citrus fruit is perfectly healthy for people with diabetes (3).

Low glycemic index

The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly foods affect your blood sugars after a meal. Eating foods that have a low GI may improve blood sugar management (45).

High GI foods, which may cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, include dried fruits, breakfast cereals, and bread.

Because oranges have a low GI, they trigger a slow rise in your blood sugar levels, making them more favorable for people with diabetes.

Still, GI shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when managing your blood sugar. Your body’s blood sugar response also depends on pairings with other foods like healthy fats or proteins.

Fiber

Fiber goes undigested in your gut and has many health benefits, including disease prevention and management. In particular, fiber-rich foods may improve blood sugar management (5).

A medium-sized orange boasts 4 grams of fiber (6).

In a review of 15 clinical studies in people with type 2 diabetes, fiber decreased both fasting blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1C, a marker of blood sugar regulation (7).

Fiber slows the rise of blood sugar levels after a meal by delaying the emptying of your stomach and shortening the time it takes food to move through your digestive tract (8).

Vitamins and minerals

Oranges contain numerous vitamins and minerals that may be particularly beneficial for people with diabetes.

A medium-sized orange packs about 91% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C. This vitamin also functions as an antioxidant — molecules that combat oxidative stress in your body (69).

Notably, elevated blood sugar levels give rise to oxidative stress, which may cause cellular damage and disease. If you have diabetes, you may have an increased need for vitamin C to help reverse oxidative stress (10).

A medium-sized orange also supplies 12% of the DV for folate. Although results are mixed, studies suggest that this mineral may lower insulin levels and improve insulin resistance, blood sugar management, and symptoms of diabetes-induced eye disease (61112).

Insulin is a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels, while insulin resistance is a condition in which your body stops responding to insulin.

Finally, oranges contain 6% of the DV for potassium. Low potassium levels may lead to insulin resistance (613).

Antioxidants

Flavonoid antioxidants have a number of benefits for people with diabetes, including combatting inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance, as well as increasing insulin sensitivity (1415).

Notably, oranges are one of the most readily available sources of flavonoid antioxidants (16).

Furthermore, blood oranges boast anthocyanins, a subclass of flavonoids common to red, purple, or blue fruits and vegetables. Research suggests that these compounds may fight oxidative stress, heart disease, and inflammation (1718).

SUMMARYOranges have several benefits for people with diabetes due to their low GI and nutrient profile, which includes fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium, and antioxidants.

Are there downsides to people with diabetes?

There are no downsides to eating whole oranges if you have diabetes.

In fact, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) encourages people with diabetes to eat citrus fruits like oranges (19).

What about other orange products?

All the same, you may need to limit your intake of other orange products if you have diabetes.

Orange juice

Although 100% orange juice provides several vitamins and minerals, it’s lacking fiber — which is essential for blood sugar regulation (20).

Plus, orange juice has a high GI and is usually paired with other carb-rich foods, which may increase your risk of high blood sugar levels. Thus, people with diabetes should limit their intake.

All the same, if your blood sugars fall too low — a condition known as hypoglycemia — a 4-ounce (120-mL) serving of orange juice may bring them back to normal levels.

Canned mandarin oranges

The ADA recommends buying canned oranges in juice rather than syrup to limit your intake of added sugar.

You should also look for phrases on the can, such as “no added sugars” or “unsweetened,” to help you make the best choice (21).

SUMMARYIf you have diabetes, it’s best to limit your intake of orange juice and only buy canned oranges that are packaged in juice. In general, whole oranges are a better choice because of their fiber content.

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If you have diabetes, you should strive to eat a variety of whole fruits, including oranges. Fruit plays a critical role in a healthy, balanced diet.

Whole oranges provide a broad spectrum of essential nutrients needed for blood sugar regulation and should be your first choice over 100% fruit juice.

How many should you eat?

To keep your blood sugar level within a normal range, it’s recommended to limit your carb intake to 50–60% of your total calories. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s 1,000–1,200 calories from carbs — or 250–300 total grams of carbs per day (22).

Because of differences in body size and activity level, there’s no magic number for how many oranges you should have.

Still, you can safely eat several servings of oranges per day, bearing in mind that one serving of carbs is 15 grams (23).

A single serving of various orange products is:

  • 1/2 cup (123 grams) of canned mandarin oranges
  • a medium-sized (154-gram) orange
  • 4 ounces (120 mL) of 100% orange juice

The number of carbs needed at each meal and snack varies by body size and activity level. You should plan to eat around the same number of carbs at meals and snacks to keep your blood sugar levels steady (2324).

For a meal plan that meets your individual needs, consult a registered dietitian (RD) or certified diabetes educator.

SUMMARYPeople with diabetes should eat oranges as part of a healthy diet. To help manage your blood sugar levels, you should limit your carb intake to around half of your daily calories.

The bottom line

If you have diabetes, eating a variety of fruits — including oranges — is good for your health.

Whole oranges may keep your blood sugar levels steady due to their low GI, fiber content, and other nutrients. In particular, their vitamin and antioxidant content may fight inflammation, heart disease, and oxidative stress resulting from high blood pressure.

In general, it’s better to eat whole oranges rather than drink orange juice.

If you need help including oranges in your meal plan, consult an RD or certified diabetes educator.

How can you Lower your Blood Sugar Levels?

Blood sugar levels are a primary concern for people with diabetes. High blood sugar, known as hyperglycemia, occurs when a person’s blood sugar is over 180 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

High blood sugar levels can be dangerous if not promptly managed and lead to both short-term and long-term problems.

In this article, we look at some different ways to help people lower their blood sugar levels. These steps include lifestyle changes, diet tips, and natural remedies.

Why is managing blood sugar important?

Woman checking blood sugar levels after exercising next to glass of orange juice.

Keeping blood sugars at target levels helps people with diabetes avoid serious complications from the disease. High blood sugar can cause many ill effects, which can be sudden, such as acid buildup in the bloodstream, or occur gradually over time.

Over time, keeping blood sugar at unhealthful levels can damage small and large blood vessels in several organs and systems, leading to serious consequences, such as:

  • vision impairment and blindness
  • foot ulcers, infections, and amputations
  • kidney failure and dialysis
  • heart attacks and strokes
  • peripheral vascular disease, a condition where blood flow to the limbs is reduced
  • damage to the nervous system, leading to pain and weakness

By keeping blood sugar levels under 100 mg/dL before eating and under 180 mg/dL after eating, people with diabetes can significantly reduce their risk of adverse effects from the disease.

How to lower blood sugar levels

Here are 12 ways that a person with diabetes can lower high blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of complications.

1. Monitor blood sugar levels closely

High blood sugar levels often do not cause symptoms until they run well over 200 mg/dL. As such, it is essential for a person with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar several times a day. Doing so will mean that blood sugar levels never get that high.

A person with diabetes can use a home glucose monitor to check blood sugar levels. These are available for purchase online

Recommendations for how frequently to check glucose levels during the day will vary from person to person. A doctor can make the best recommendations regarding blood sugar monitoring to a person with diabetes.

2. Reduce carbohydrate intake

Researchers have carried out studies showing that eating a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet reduces blood sugar levels.

The body breaks down carbohydrates into sugar that the body uses as energy. Some carbs are necessary in the diet. However, for people with diabetes, eating too many carbohydrates can cause blood sugar to spike too high.

Reducing the amounts of carbohydrates a person eats reduces the amount a person’s blood sugar spikes.

3. Eat the right carbohydrates

The two main kinds of carbohydrates — simple and complex — affect blood sugar levels differently.

Simple carbohydrates are mainly made up of one kind of sugar. They are found in foods, such as white bread, pasta, and candy. The body breaks these carbohydrates down into sugar very quickly, which causes blood sugar levels to rise rapidly.

Complex carbohydrates are made up of three or more sugars that are linked together. Because the chemical makeup of these kinds of carbohydrates is complicated, it takes the body longer to break them down.

As a result, sugar is released into the body more gradually, meaning that blood sugar levels do not rapidly rise after eating them. Examples of complex carbohydrates include whole grain oats and sweet potatoes.

4. Choose low glycemic index foods

The glycemic index measures and ranks various foods by how much they cause blood sugar levels to rise. Research shows that following a low glycemic index diet decreases fasting blood sugar levels.

Low glycemic index foods are those that score below 55 on the glycemic index. Examples of low glycemic foods include:

  • sweet potatoes
  • quinoa
  • legumes
  • low-fat milk
  • leafy greens
  • non-starchy vegetables
  • nuts and seeds
  • meats
  • fish

5. Increase dietary fiber intake

Whole grain brown rice in bowl with pulses, beans, and vegetables.

 

Fiber plays a significant role in blood sugar management by slowing down the rate that carbohydrates break down, and the rate that the body absorbs the resulting sugars.

The two types of fiber are soluble and insoluble fiber. Of the two types, soluble fiber is the most helpful in controlling blood sugar.

Soluble fiber is in the following foods:

  • vegetables
  • legumes
  • whole grains
  • fruit

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6. Maintain a healthy weight

Losing weight helps control blood sugar levels. Being overweight is linked to increased incidents of diabetes and greater occurrences of insulin resistance.

Studies show that reducing weight by even only 7 percent can reduce the chances of developing diabetes by 58 percent.

It is important to note that a person does not need to achieve ideal body weight to benefit from losing 10–20 pounds and keeping it off. Doing so will also improve cholesterol, reduce the risk of complications, and improve a person’s general sense of well-being.

Eating a healthful diet full of fruits and vegetables and getting enough exercise can help a person lose weight or maintain their currently healthy weight.

7. Control portion size

At most meals, a person should follow portion guidelines provided by a doctor or nutritionist. Overeating at a sitting can cause a spike in blood sugar.

Although simple carbohydrates are typically associated with elevated blood sugar levels, all food causes blood sugar levels to rise. Careful control of portions can keep blood sugar levels more controlled.

8. Exercise regularly

Exercise has many benefits for people with diabetes, including weight loss and increased insulin sensitivity.

Insulin is a hormone that helps people break down sugar in the body. People with diabetes either do not make enough or any insulin in their body or are resistant to the insulin the body does produce.

Exercise also helps to lower blood sugar levels by encouraging the body’s muscles to use sugar for energy.

9. Hydrate

Proper hydration is key to a healthful lifestyle. For people worried about lowering high blood sugar, it is crucial.

Drinking enough water prevents dehydration and also helps the kidneys remove extra sugar from the body in the urine.

Those looking to reduce blood sugar levels should reach for water and avoid all sugary drinks, such as fruit juice or soda, which may raise blood sugar levels instead.

People with diabetes should reduce alcohol intake to the equivalent of one drink per day for women and two for men unless other restrictions apply.

10. Try herbal extracts

Herbal supplements in the form of matcha powder and loose leaf tea on spoons, next to cup of green tea.

Herbal extracts may have a positive effect on treating and controlling blood sugar levels.

Most people should attempt to gain nutrients from the foods they eat. However, supplements are often helpful for people who do not get enough of the nutrients from natural sources.

Most doctors do not consider supplements as a treatment by themselves. A person should consult their doctor before taking any supplement, as they may interfere with any prescribed medications.

Some supplements a person may want to try are available for purchase online, including:

11. Manage stress

Stress has a significant impact on blood sugar levels. The body gives off stress hormones when under tension, and these hormones raise blood sugar levels.

Research shows that managing stress through meditation and exercise can also help to lower blood sugar levels.

12. Get enough sleep

Sleep helps a person reduce the amount of sugar in their blood. Getting adequate sleep each night is an excellent way to help keep blood sugar levels at a normal level.

Blood sugar levels tend to surge in the early morning hours. In most people, insulin will tell the body what to do with the excess sugar, which keeps the blood sugar levels normal.

Lack of sleep can have a similar effect to insulin resistance, meaning that a person’s blood sugar level could spike significantly from lack of sleep.

Takeaway

Managing high blood sugar is key to avoiding serious complications from diabetes.

There is a range of lifestyle interventions that can help a person struggling with high blood sugar to lower their glucose levels.

A person should always follow their doctor’s advice for lowering high blood sugar.

 

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21 Natural Remedies for Upset Stomach

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Everyone experiences an upset stomach and indigestion, or dyspepsia, from time to time after eating or drinking. The condition is usually no cause for concern, and it is often possible to treat the symptoms using home remedies.

Common symptoms of an upset stomach and indigestion include:

  • heartburn, or acid reflux
  • nausea
  • bloating
  • gas
  • belching, sometimes bringing up bitter or foul-tasting fluid or food
  • farting
  • bad-smelling or sour breath
  • hiccupping or coughing

This article looks at 21 of the most popular home remedies for an upset stomach and indigestion. We also explain when to see a doctor.

Twenty-one home remedies

Some of the most popular home remedies for an upset stomach and indigestion include:

1. Drinking water

Glass of water being poured which is a home remedy for upset stomach

The body needs water to digest and absorb nutrients from foods and beverages efficiently. Being dehydrated makes digestion more difficult and less effective, which increases the likelihood of an upset stomach.

In general, the Health and Medicine Division (HMD) recommend that:

  • women should have around 2.7 liters (l), or 91 ounces (oz), of water a day
  • men should have about 3.7 l, or 125 oz, of water a day

Around 20 percent of this will come from food, with the rest coming from beverages. For most people, a good figure to aim for is approximately 8 or more cups of water a day. Younger children require slightly less water than adults.

For those with digestive issues, it is imperative to stay hydrated. Vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration very quickly so people with these symptoms should keep drinking water.

2. Avoiding lying down

When the body is horizontal, the acid in the stomach is more likely to travel backward and move upward, which can cause heartburn.

People with an upset stomach should avoid lying down or going to bed for at least a few hours until it passes. Someone who needs to lie down should prop up their head, neck, and upper chest with pillows, ideally at a 30-degree angle.

3. Ginger

Ginger is a common natural remedy for an upset stomach and indigestion.

Ginger contains chemicals called gingerols and shogaols that can help speed up stomach contractions. This may move foods that are causing indigestion through the stomach more quickly.

The chemicals in ginger may also help to reduce nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

People with an upset stomach could try adding ginger to their food or drinking it as a tea. Some all-natural ginger ales may also contain enough ginger to settle an upset stomach.

4. Mint

In addition to sweetening the breath, the menthol in mint may help with the following:

  • preventing vomiting and diarrhea
  • reducing muscle spasms in the intestines
  • relieving pain

Researchers have found that mint is a traditional treatment for indigestion, gas, and diarrhea in Iran, Pakistan, and India.

Raw and cooked mint leaves are both suitable for consumption. Traditionally, people often boil mint leaves with cardamom to make a tea. It is also possible to powder or juice mint leaves and mix them with other teas, beverages, or foods.

Sucking on mint candies might be another way to help reduce the pain and discomfort of heartburn.

5. Taking a warm bath or using a heating bag

Heat may relax tense muscles and ease indigestion, so taking a warm bath may help to ease the symptoms of an upset stomach. It could also be beneficial to apply a heated bag or pad to the stomach for 20 minutes or until it goes cool.

 

6. BRAT diet

Doctors may recommend the BRAT diet to people with diarrhea.

BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. These foods are all starchy, so they can help bind foods together to make stools firmer. This may decrease the number of stools a person passes and help ease their diarrhea.

As these foods are bland, they do not contain substances that irritate the stomach, throat, or intestines. Therefore, this diet can soothe the tissue irritation resulting from the acids in vomit.

Many of the foods in the BRAT diet are also high in nutrients such as potassium and magnesium and can replace those lost through diarrhea and vomiting.

7. Avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol

Smoking can irritate the throat, increasing the likelihood of an upset stomach. If the person has vomited, smoking can further irritate the tender tissue already sore from stomach acids.

As a toxin, alcohol is difficult to digest and can cause damage to the liver and stomach lining.

People with an upset stomach should avoid smoking and drinking alcohol until they are feeling better.

8. Avoiding difficult-to-digest foods

Some foods are harder to digest than others, which increases the risk of an upset stomach. Anyone with an upset stomach should avoid foods that are:

  • fried or fatty
  • rich or creamy
  • salty or heavily preserved

9. Lime or lemon juice, baking soda, and water

Some studies suggest that mixing lime or lemon juice in water with a pinch of baking soda can help to relieve a variety of digestive complaints.

This mixture produces carbonic acid, which may help to reduce gas and indigestion. It may also improve liver secretion and intestinal mobility. The acidity and other nutrients in lime or lemon juice can help to digest and absorb fats and alcohol while neutralizing bile acids and reducing acidity in the stomach.

Most traditional recipes recommend mixing the following quantities:

  • 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon (tsp) of baking soda
  • 8 oz of clean water

10. Cinnamon

cinnamon sticks and power are a home remedy for upset stomach

Cinnamon contains several antioxidants that may help ease digestion and reduce the risk of irritation and damage in the digestive tract. Some of the antioxidants in cinnamon include:

  • eugenol
  • cinnamaldehyde
  • linalool
  • camphor

Other substances in cinnamon may help to reduce gas, bloating, cramping, and belching. They may also help to neutralize stomach acidity to reduce heartburn and indigestion.

People with an upset stomach could try adding 1 tsp of good-quality cinnamon powder, or an inch of cinnamon stick, to their meals. Alternatively, they could try mixing the cinnamon with boiling water to make a tea. Doing this two or three times daily may help to relieve indigestion.

11. Cloves

Cloves contain substances that may help to reduce gas in the stomach and increase gastric secretions. This can speed up slow digestion, which may reduce pressure and cramping. Cloves may also help to reduce nausea and vomiting.

A person with an upset stomach could try mixing 1 or 2 tsps of ground or powdered cloves with 1 tsp of honey once a day before bedtime. For nausea and heartburn, they could combine the cloves with 8 oz of boiling water instead to make a clove tea, which they should drink slowly once or twice daily.

12. Cumin

Cumin seeds contain active ingredients that may help by:

  • reducing indigestion and excess stomach acids
  • decreasing gas
  • reducing intestinal inflammation
  • acting as an antimicrobial

A person with an upset stomach could try mixing 1 or 2 tsps of ground or powdered cumin into their meals. Alternatively, they could add a few teaspoons of cumin seeds or powder to boiling water to make a tea.

Some traditional medical systems suggest chewing a pinch or two of raw cumin seeds or powder to ease heartburn.

13. Figs

Figs contain substances that can act as laxatives to ease constipation and encourage healthy bowel movements. Figs also contain compounds that may help to ease indigestion.

A person with an upset stomach could try eating whole fig fruits a few times a day until their symptoms improve. Alternatively, they could try brewing 1 or 2 tsps of fig leaves to make a tea instead.

However, if people are also experiencing diarrhea, they should avoid consuming figs.

14. Aloe juice

The substances in aloe juice may provide relief by:

  • reducing excess stomach acid
  • encouraging healthy bowel movements and toxin removal
  • improving protein digestion
  • promoting the balance of digestive bacteria
  • reducing inflammation

In one study, researchers found that people who drank 10 milliliters (ml) of aloe juice daily for 4 weeks found relief from the following symptoms of gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD):

  • heartburn
  • flatulence and belching
  • nausea and vomiting
  • acid and food regurgitation

15. Yarrow

Yarrow flowers contain flavonoids, polyphenols, lactones, tannins, and resins that may help to reduce the amount of acid that the stomach produces. They do this by acting on the main digestive nerve, called the vagus nerve. A reduction in stomach acid levels can reduce the likelihood of heartburn and indigestion.

A person with an upset stomach could try eating young yarrow leaves raw in a salad or cooked in a meal. It is also possible to make yarrow tea by adding 1 or 2 tsps of dried or ground yarrow leaves or flowers to boiling water.

16. Basil

Fresh basil on a board

Basil contains substances that may reduce gas, increase appetite, relieve cramping, and improve overall digestion. Basil also contains eugenol, which may help to reduce the quantity of acid in the stomach.

Basil also contains high levels of linoleic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties.

A person with an upset stomach could try adding 1 or 2 tsps of dried basil leaves, or a couple of fresh basil leaves, to meals until their symptoms lessen. For more immediate results, they could mix half a teaspoon of dried basil, or a few fresh leaves, with boiled water to make a tea.

17. Licorice

Licorice root contains substances that may help to reduce gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach lining, as well as inflammation relating to peptic ulcers.

Someone with an upset stomach could try drinking licorice root tea several times a day until their symptoms improve. Licorice root teas are widely available online, but it is also possible to make them at home by mixing 1 or 2 tsps of licorice root powder with boiling water.

18. Spearmint

Like mint, spearmint is a common remedy for many digestive complaints, including:

  • nausea
  • stomach and intestinal spasms
  • gastrointestinal infections
  • diarrhea

Most people find that the easiest way to consume spearmint is to drink prepared herbal teas in which spearmint is the primary ingredient. There are many such teas available online.

It is usually safe to drink spearmint teas several times daily until symptoms improve. Sucking on spearmint candies may also help to reduce heartburn.

19. Rice

Plain rice is useful for people with many types of stomach complaints. It can help by:

  • adding bulk to stool
  • absorbing fluids that may contain toxins
  • easing pain and cramps, because of its high levels of magnesium and potassium

Someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea could try slowly eating half a cup of plain, well-cooked rice. It is best to wait until at least a few hours after the last episode of vomiting. The person may continue to do this for 24–48 hours until diarrhea stops.

Rice is also part of the BRAT diet that doctors often recommend.

20. Coconut water

Coconut water contains high levels of potassium and magnesium. These nutrients help to reduce pain, muscle spasms, and cramps.

Coconut water is also useful for rehydrating and is a better option than most sports drinks as it is also low in calories, sugar, and acidity.

Slowly sipping on up to 2 glasses of coconut water every 4–6 hours could ease upset stomach symptoms.

21. Bananas

Bananas contain vitamin B6, potassium, and folate. These nutrients can help to ease cramps, pains, and muscle spasms. Bananas can also help by adding bulk to loose stools, which can alleviate diarrhea.

An upset stomach and indigestion should not usually cause concern. For most people, symptoms should go away within a few hours. As older adults and children can become dehydrated much more quickly, they should seek medical attention for vomiting and diarrhea that lasts for more than a day.

People with severe, frequent, or persistent stomach problems should talk to a doctor. It is also best to seek medical attention if the following symptoms are present:

  • continual or uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea
  • chronic constipation
  • fever
  • bloody stool or vomit
  • inability to pass gas
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • arm pain
  • unintentional weight loss
  • a lump in the abdomen or stomach
  • difficulty swallowing
  • history of iron-deficiency anemia or associated conditions
  • pain when urinating

Why You Should No Longer Worry About Cholesterol in Food

man peeling an egg cholesterol

High levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, which have been linked to heart disease, are still a health concern.

But evidence shows people no longer have to be concerned about eating foods that are high in cholesterol. What’s changed is that many researchers and physicians believe that eating cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs may not affect the cholesterol that is in your blood.

“However, people with certain health problems, such as diabetes, should continue to avoid cholesterol-rich foods,” says cardiologist Steven Nissen, MD.

It’s complicated

Is cholesterol good for you? Is cholesterol bad for you? It’s complicated.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that ultimately ends up in the walls of arteries. It causes plaque that leads to heart attacks and strokes. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines call for a daily cholesterol limit of 300 milligrams.

The relationship between cholesterol and the body is extremely complicated. Some of the ways its complicated are:

  • The body regulates how much cholesterol is in your blood.
  • There are different kinds of cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein or LDL (bad) cholesterol contributes to plaque buildup along with triglycerides, another lipid. High-density lipoprotein or HDL (good) cholesterol discourages plaque buildup.
  • LDL is the bad cholesterol that you should avoid because it can increase your risk of heart disease.
  • The way people process cholesterol differs. Some people appear to be more vulnerable to cholesterol-rich diets.

“Your genetic makeup – not diet – is the driving force behind cholesterol levels, says Dr. Nissen. “The body creates cholesterol in amounts much larger than what you can eat, so avoiding foods that are high in cholesterol won’t affect your blood cholesterol levels very much.”

About 85% of the cholesterol in the circulation is manufactured by the body in the liver. It isn’t coming directly from the cholesterol that you eat, according to Dr. Nissen.

It’s also likely that people with family history of heart disease share common environments that may increase their risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What you should worry about

Should you actually worry about cholesterol in food? The greater danger for everyone is in foods that are high in trans fats.

“Those often appear on food labels as hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” he says. “Those types of fats do tend to raise cholesterol and do tend to increase the risk of heart disease.”

All in all, look for trans fat and saturated fat on labels at the grocery store. The American Heart Association recommends limiting dietary saturated fat intake and focusing more on eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean animal protein or plant protein sources.​

15 Foods you can Binge without Gaining Weight

In theory, dieting seems like a piece of cake. When you actually get down to business though, it’s a very grueling process, full of struggles and suppressed temptations. It’s so bad that you may even cry just looking at a plate of brownies. But we often go about doing it wrong – eat all the wrong things or eat nothing at all, which completely botches all our plans of having a perfect bikini body, or just a toned one.

Being on a diet means eating selectively and being very careful about the nutritional value of your food. Here’s a list of foods to binge on while you’re trying to shed off that fat.

1. Almonds

Packed full of Vitamin E, protein and fiber, they not only boost your skin, but also keep you from feeling hungry for long periods of time. Try swapping them for your usual mid-morning snack and see how they work wonders!

Source:Unsplash 

2. Potatoes

Surprising, right ? But they’re not just popular for their taste. They have a little bit of almost everything we need, so they help in maintaining a top-notch health as well.

If you boil potatoes and then allow them to cool for a while, they will form large amounts of resistant starch, a fiber-like substance that will keep you satiated and hence, prevent you from eating other foods, thus helping you lose weight. 

Source:Eye Swoon 

3. Leafy Greens

They’re the quickest way to flush out water retention and flatten a stubborn stomach. They have various vitamins, minerals, a high content of fiber and low amount of calories – basically, they’re the perfect mixture. Include them in your meals and wait for them to work their magic!

Source:Colour Box 

4. Avocados

Fats aren’t your enemy, as long as they’re the right kind. Oleic acid is a compound in the fats present in an avocado that helps in suppressing hunger for long periods of time. Eat a quarter or half of this creamy fruit each morning and say goodbye to the loose belly fat.

Source:Fly Wheel 

5. Olive Oil

That’s right! Oil is on the list too. Replace your mustard oil and ghee with olive oil which also contains Oleic acid and prevents hunger as well as aids the breaking down of fats.

Source:West Elm’s Blog 

6. Dark Chocolate

For those of you with a sweet tooth and an insatiable craving for desserts, pick a square or two of this. It contains way less fat than most deserts and calms down your hunger after it as well, even for long periods of time.

Source:Jim Scherer

7. Eggs and Sausage

This just keeps getting better. Eggs and sausages, an extremely protein rich meal for breakfast makes you feel fuller right away, no matter how big your appetite is. This has a long-term effect and it is scientifically proven that you automatically consume less calories for the rest of the day.

Source:Gourmet Girl Cooks 

8. Beans

They may be little, but each of these come with a bunch of nutrients especially proteins and fiber. The best part is that they remain low in calories and full of slow-release energy. This, in simple terms, means that your muscles will get toned and you’ll not feel hungry for long periods of time.

Source:WordPress 

9. Peppermint

It’s known for its effective healing properties, but it is also very efficient for digestion. It’s very popular and easily available in tea form for consumption, preferably organic. Three cups a day, after every meal, will keep the weighing scale and your stomach very happy.

Source:500 px 

10. Apple Cider Vinegar

This digestive tonic kills harmful bacteria in the intestines, flushes out toxins and relieves water retention from the stomach. A few spoon-fulls everyday will help detoxifying the body daily. It can also be used as a salad dressing or to cook with vegetables.

Source:Get It Durban 

11. Apples and Pears

A very cheap but nonetheless, fruitful solution to your problem. Firstly, for juice consumers, eating the fruit itself is more beneficial because the chewing motion of our teeth makes the brain comprehend it as substantial eating and the high fiber content keeps us full. They’re also jam packed with antioxidants – it’s a win win situation.

Source:Wallpaperzi 

12. Cranberry Juice

An excellent antioxidant topped with high amounts of Vitamin C, it rids the body of excess fluids through excretion. Have a glass in the morning before starting your day for best results!

Source:WordPress 

13. Lemon

Along with being a great taste enhancer, it also has high amounts of Pectin fiber which will surely help you ward off hunger. They also raise the intestine’s pH levels, thus aiding digestion and weight loss.

Source:Interior Design Files 

14. Fish

Again, it is an extremely protein rich food but also very satiating. Many types of white fish are extremely lean, and fattier varieties such as salmon pack healthy omega-3 fats, but all prove to be extremely beneficial.

Source:Unsplash 

15. Tomatoes

The list of recipes to try with tomatoes is endless really. It’s not looking too bad right now. They’re full of antioxidants, reduce inflammation and water retention and reverse our body’s Leptin (a protein that helps us to regulate our metabolic rate and apetite) resistance! Honestly, miracle workers. 

 

 6 Ways to Build a Healthy Self-Image

woman looking in mirror and not judging

From filtered social media posts to that not-so-nice voice in your head, it can be hard to maintain a positive self-image.

“Our culture promotes wanting-ness. It’s not enough to be who we are. We constantly receive the message that we can always do or buy something to make us or our lives better,” says Scott Bea, PsyD. “But you have to value self-acceptance to be self-accepting. You need to practice self-compassion to accept your basic humanness. You can be flawed, but it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.”

In this Q&A, Dr. Bea shares six ways to build a healthy self-image and the benefits of having a positive view of yourself.

Q. What is self-image?

A. Self-image represents how we view ourselves and our attributes, capacities, challenges and potential.

Whether people have a more positive or negative view of themselves depends on many things, including our personality and input we receive when we’re young. Our brains also have a negative bias. We tend to be more aware of what is wrong. For example, people can easily list what’s wrong about them. And that list tends to be longer than what’s right.

Q. What is a healthy self-image?

A. It’s a complicated question. But in general, it’s about self-acceptance. You can have areas you want to work on, but you should have a basic, solid set of values and ethical core and accept your humanness. You want to notice and play to your attributes.

For example, I’m a psychologist. But beyond that, I don’t know much about anything. What I know is rather insignificant compared to what I don’t know. And there are many things I’m terrible at. But that doesn’t mean I have to have a negative self-image. Focus on valuing the part of you that is skillful, valuable and consistent with what you value.

Q. What are the benefits of having a positive self-image?

A. There are many benefits, including:

  • More openness to experience: If we have a sturdy self-view, we can try new things. And if something doesn’t go our way, it doesn’t destroy us. Self-acceptance prevents you from being unduly injured by a negative new experience. It also allows you to grow and makes you more resilient in the face of life’s stressors.
  • Better social relationships: If you have a positive self-image, you have a sense that you have something to give. This helps you bring more to the table in your relationships, which makes them stronger. Just show up to give your gift, and it’s hard to mess it up.

Q. How can you get a positive self-image?

A. To build a healthy self-image, I recommend:

1. Remember what it was like to be a kid

When we were young, we didn’t know anything was wrong with us. Then other people and things, such as parents, teachers, clerics, peers or social media, made us feel like there was something wrong with us. For example, when you compliment a child on their cute outfit or how smart they are, their response is often “I know.” But if you told that same kid, “Shame on you,” they wouldn’t grasp what that meant.

Go back to those times when you were a kid. While you might have been taking your play seriously, you weren’t too undone by the consequences. You were more willing to try new things, run experiments and laugh at yourself. Cultivate that playfulness, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Express humor. Notice what’s funny and comment on it.

Self-image is subjective. There are no absolutes to it, and it is moldable. It’s not fixed across your lifespan. So take the chance to alter it, no matter your age or stage in life.

2. Experience and express gratitude

Gratitude journaling and activities like that can be beneficial. Try to notice what you’re grateful for and what role you play in those things. You’ll start to see your effectiveness in the world and in the lives of others. These actions contribute to a positive self-view.

3. Praise others liberally

Did you notice something good in another person? Praise it. People who are secure in themselves can easily celebrate the wellness, success and positive experience of others.

Praising others can build your sense of self-sturdiness, so do it at alarmingly high rates.

Praise anything you see. Watch how it transforms people and then how that makes you feel. You’re giving your gift through praise. And a willingness to give our gifts contributes to a healthier self-image. It feels good to give a gift.

4. Have a plan for self-growth and enact it with determination

If we don’t make a dedicated effort to grow, it may happen anyway. But if we’re dedicated, the growth will happen a lot faster and in a way that is more powerful and robust.

For instance, I’ve had patients who started meditation courses. Even if they had meditated on occasion before, now they were purposefully incorporating it into everyday life. It’s a tremendous growth experience.

Anything that is systematic and requires some dedication to personal growth can help your self-image. Maybe you want to learn a new musical instrument or plant a garden. Perhaps you want to make a consistent effort to reach out to people you haven’t talked to in a while. Create a plan, commit to it, schedule it and act on it.

5. Take social media breaks

Take breaks — even longstanding ones — from social media. One thing that’s injuring people these days is social comparisons from online images. Learning to eliminate our judging, evaluative mind helps with a good self-image.

Some of my patients decide to take a complete break from social media because it fuels insecurity and envy. They often see the payoffs immediately. On social media, people tend to portray themselves in their most favorable states and not their unfavorable ones. So it can make us feel diminished in our humanness if we’re looking at it too much.

Keep in mind that you have to go through some discomfort whenever you change something. So be prepared for some FOMO (fear of missing out) when you get off social media.

6. Notice your sensitivities

While everybody experiences unkind, unpleasant or negatively judging words, some people are more sensitive to them than others. Some have also had more difficult experiences, such as childhood trauma or abandonment, which create a greater mountain to climb. Still others have an advantage from their DNA or upbringing, so they don’t quite face the same challenges. It’s not an even playing field.

First, notice how you think about and describe yourself. If you use mostly negative words, that hints that you have your work cut out. But does that mean you have to become a remarkably better human being, or do you need to regard yourself differently? It might be the latter.

How we think about ourselves may be a habit from childhood. Shaking that off and growing something different requires consistent effort across time. That’s how it is when we’re trying to change our brains. Try to make a determined effort and not be afraid of that.

Q: Why is self-acceptance so important?

A. To understand self-acceptance, look no further than “The Wizard of Oz.” Dorothy is not happy with the life she’s leading in dull black-and-white Kansas. She’s dreaming of something greater. So she goes on this journey, collects three fellows who have a similar notion of missing something and needing more. And, of course, it almost kills them trying to get it.

At the end of the movie, she says, “If I ever go looking for myself again, I won’t go looking any further than my own backyard.” It’s a return to the person she had always been — a journey of self-acceptance. She is restored to black-and-white Kansas with a renewed appreciation for it. There is a lot of wisdom in that: If we could come back to the person that we’ve always been with a new appreciation, then the better we function, the more effective we feel and the sturdier our self-image is.

Can people with Diabetes eat Honey?

A person’s glucose, or blood sugar, level refers to how much sugar is in their bloodstream. Sugar is the body’s primary source of energy.

The pancreas secretes insulin, a hormone, to keep blood sugar at safe levels. In a person with diabetes, the body either cannot use insulin correctly or it cannot produce enough.

How honey affects people with diabetes remains unclear. Some studies suggest that, in moderation, it may be useful for those with type 2 diabetes.

Replacing sugar with honey for diabetes

Honey may be a healthful substitute for refined sugars, such as white sugar, turbinado, cane sugar, and powdered sugar.

However, people should use it in moderation. It, too, can cause blood sugar levels to spike, especially when a person uses honey in addition to, rather than instead of, another form of sugar.

Some manufacturers produce honey that is not pure and may contain added sugars or syrups.

It is also important to note that raw honey can contain a toxin that can cause botulism or otherwise be dangerous for infants younger than 1 year.

While honey provides nutrients, other foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, are better sources of these, and they also provide more fiber and water, minimizing any hike in blood sugar levels.

People with diabetes should consume sweeteners of any kind as infrequently as possible because frequent blood sugar spikes can cause diabetes to progress more rapidly.

What is honey?

Raw honey starts out as flower nectar. After bees collect the nectar, it naturally breaks down into simple sugars, which bees store in honeycombs.

The honeycombs cause the nectar to evaporate, creating a thick, sweet liquid. This is honey.

Honey, like other types of sugar, is a dense source of carbohydrates. Most of these carbs are in the forms of glucose and fructose, which are simple sugars.

Unlike refined white sugar, honey also contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

 

Processed vs. raw honey

Most of the honey available today is processed, which means that the manufacturer has heated and filtered it. This strips away some of the honey’s nutritional value and potential health benefits.

However, raw honey retains these properties. Raw, local honey may, for example, help with seasonal allergies.

According to a 2018 review published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, switching from refined sugar to honey may help keep blood glucose levels down.

The researchers attribute this to honey’s lower glycemic index (GI) score and its ability to reduce inflammatory markers and improve levels of cholesterol.

Doctors are not likely to recommend switching to honey as a person’s only diabetes management tactic. It will not replace medications or healthful lifestyle practices.

Babies younger than 1 year should not eat raw honey. Doing so can put them at risk of botulism, a kind of food poisoning that can be life-threatening.

Nutrition

Raw honey, much like white sugar, is a sweetener that contains carbohydrates and calories.

[variety of sugars on display in wooden spoons]

A tablespoon of honey, weighing about 21 g, has about 64 calories, while 21 g of granulated white sugar contains 80 calories.

This amount of honey also contains:

  • 3.59 g of water
  • 17.25 g of sugar
  • 11 milligram (mg) of potassium
  • 1 mg of calcium
  • 1 mg of phosphorus
  • 1 mg of sodium
  • 0.05 mg of zinc
  • 0.1 mg of vitamin C

It also contains some B vitamins.

Sugar contains almost no other nutrients.

Another big difference between white sugar and honey concerns digestion. The body breaks down honey using enzymes that exist in the honey, while digesting sugar requires enzymes from the body.

An additional difference relates to the GI. This index measures the extent to which a particular carbohydrate raises blood sugar levels. Foods with high GI scores tend to elevate levels quickly and significantly but contain little nutritional value.

According to a study published in 2018, honey has a GI score of 58, while sugar’s GI score is 60.

Research

Several studies have found that eating honey may increase insulin levels and decrease levels of blood sugar.

Possible hypoglycemic impact

A small study from 2004 investigated honey and sugar’s effects on blood glucose levels.

The researcher found that a solution containing 75 g of honey raised blood sugar and insulin levels in people with and without type 2 diabetes within 30 minutes. An equivalent solution containing dextrose raised blood sugar levels slightly higher.

Within 2 hours, the levels fell, and they fell lower and remained lower in the honey group, compared with the dextrose group.

The researcher suggested that honey may increase insulin levels. This would explain why, although blood sugar levels rose in both groups, they fell further in the honey group.

Improved measurements of diabetes

A review published in 2017 also explored the connection between honey and blood glucose in people with diabetes.

The authors found that honey had the following effects:

  • Honey decreased fasting serum glucose, which a doctor measures after a person has fasted for at least 8 hours.
  • It increased levels of fasting C-peptide, which helps the pancreas know how much insulin to secrete and plays a crucial role in keeping blood sugar levels stable in a healthy range.
  • It increased 2-hour postprandial C-peptide levels, which indicate the amount of peptide after a person eats.

Future therapeutic effect

In 2012, a study involving 50 people with type 1 diabetes found that, compared with sucrose, honey was less likely to raise blood sugar levels. The research team concluded that honey might, one day, have a role in treating the beta cells of the pancreas, which are responsible for producing insulin.

In 2018, a review of studies concluded that honey may be useful for treating type 2 diabetes, as it may have a hypoglycemic effect. In other words, it may help lower blood sugar.

However, the researchers caution that confirming these effects and establishing the beneficial dosages will require more studies in humans and long-term investigations.

Effect on long-term blood glucose levels

An 8-week study involving 48 people in Iran found that consuming honey did not appear to raise fasting blood sugar levels. Participants who ate honey also lost weight and had lower blood cholesterol levels.

The researchers also tested the participants’ hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen to the body’s cells. When glucose enters the cells, it joins with hemoglobin.

By measuring how much hemoglobin is combined with glucose, in a hemoglobin A1C test, a doctor can estimate a person’s average blood glucose levels over the last few months.

A person with more hemoglobin A1C has a higher risk of diabetes and is likely to be receiving poor blood glucose management.

The researchers noted that participants in the honey group had an increase in hemoglobin A1c, suggesting a long-term rise in blood glucose levels. For this reason, the team recommended “cautious consumption” of honey among people with diabetes.

Antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties

Other studies have suggested that honey may have additional benefits because it contains antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

A review published in 2017 looked at the potential roles of honey in healing. The authors noted that, in people with type 2 diabetes, doctors may one day use honey to lower blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of complications related to diabetes and metabolic disease, and help heal wounds.

In 2014, researchers in Greece published similar findings, noting that honey might help to fight the inflammatory processes that occur with diabetes, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease, all of which are features of metabolic syndrome.

16 Best Foods to Control Diabetes

Figuring out the best foods to eat when you have diabetes can be tough.

The main goal is to keep blood sugar levels well-controlled.

However, it’s also important to eat foods that help prevent diabetes complications like heart disease.

Here are the 16 best foods for diabetics, both type 1 and type 2.

1. Fatty Fish

Best Foods for DiabetesShare on Pinterest

Fatty fish is one of the healthiest foods on the planet.

Salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies and mackerel are great sources of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which have major benefits for heart health.

Getting enough of these fats on a regular basis is especially important for diabetics, who have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke (1).

DHA and EPA protect the cells that line your blood vessels, reduce markers of inflammation and improve the way your arteries function after eating (2345).

A number of observational studies suggest that people who eat fatty fish regularly have a lower risk of heart failure and are less likely to die from heart disease (67).

In studies, older men and women who consumed fatty fish 5–7 days per week for 8 weeks had significant reductions in triglycerides and inflammatory markers (89).

Fish is also a great source of high-quality protein, which helps you feel full and increases your metabolic rate (10).

BOTTOM LINE:Fatty fish contain omega-3 fats that reduce inflammation and other risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

2. Leafy Greens

Leafy green vegetables are extremely nutritious and low in calories.

They’re also very low in digestible carbs, which raise your blood sugar levels.

Spinachkale and other leafy greens are good sources of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C.

In one study, increasing vitamin C intake reduced inflammatory markers and fasting blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure (11).

In addition, leafy greens are good sources of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.

These antioxidants protect your eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts, which are common diabetes complications (12131415).

BOTTOM LINE:Leafy green vegetables are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that protect your heart and eye health.

3. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a delicious spice with potent antioxidant activity.

Several controlled studies have shown that cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity (16171819202122).

Long-term diabetes control is typically determined by measuring hemoglobin A1c, which reflects your average blood sugar level over 2–3 months.

In one study, type 2 diabetes patients who took cinnamon for 90 days had more than a double reduction in hemoglobin A1c, compared those who only received standard care (22).

A recent analysis of 10 studies found that cinnamon may also lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels (23).

However, a few studies have failed to show that cinnamon benefits blood sugar or cholesterol levels, including one on adolescents with type 1 diabetes (242526).

Furthermore, you should limit your intake of cassia cinnamon — the type found in most grocery stores — to less than 1 teaspoon per day.

It contains coumarin, which is linked to health problems at higher doses (27).

On the other hand, ceylon (“true”) cinnamon contains much less coumarin.

BOTTOM LINE:Cinnamon may improve blood sugar control, insulin sensitivity, cholesterol and triglyceride levels in type 2 diabetics.

4. Eggs

Eggs provide amazing health benefits.

In fact, they’re one of the best foods for keeping you full for hours (282930).

Regular egg consumption may also reduce your heart disease risk in several ways.

Eggs decrease inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, increase your “good” HDL cholesterol levels and modify the size and shape of your “bad” LDL cholesterol (31323334).

In one study, people with type 2 diabetes who consumed 2 eggs daily as part of a high-protein diet had improvements in cholesterol and blood sugar levels (35).

In addition, eggs are one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that protect the eyes from disease (3637).

Just be sure to eat whole eggs. The benefits of eggs are primarily due to nutrients found in the yolk rather than the white.

BOTTOM LINE:Eggs improve risk factors for heart disease, promote good blood sugar control, protect eye health and keep you feeling full.

5. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a wonderful food for people with diabetes.

They’re extremely high in fiber, yet low in digestible carbs.

In fact, 11 of the 12 grams of carbs in a 28-gram (1-oz) serving of chia seeds are fiber, which doesn’t raise blood sugar.

The viscous fiber in chia seeds can actually lower your blood sugar levels by slowing down the rate at which food moves through your gut and is absorbed (383940).

Chia seeds may help you achieve a healthy weight because fiber reduces hunger and makes you feel full. In addition, fiber can decrease the amount of calories you absorb from other foods eaten at the same meal (4142).

Additionally, chia seeds have been shown to reduce blood pressure and inflammatory markers (43).

BOTTOM LINE:Chia seeds contain high amounts of fiber, are low in digestible carbs and may decrease blood pressure and inflammation.

6. Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice with powerful health benefits.

Its active ingredient, curcumin, can lower inflammation and blood sugar levels, while reducing heart disease risk (44454647).

What’s more, curcumin appears to benefit kidney health in diabetics. This is important, as diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney disease (4849505152).

Unfortunately, curcumin isn’t absorbed that well on its own. Be sure to consume turmeric with piperine (found in black pepper) in order to boost absorption by as much as 2,000% (53).

BOTTOM LINE:Turmeric contains curcumin, which may reduce blood sugar levels and inflammation, while protecting against heart and kidney disease.

7. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a great dairy choice for diabetics.

It’s been shown to improve blood sugar control and reduce heart disease risk, perhaps partly due to the probiotics it contains (54555657).

Studies have found that yogurt and other dairy foods may lead to weight loss and improved body composition in people with type 2 diabetes.

It’s believed that dairy’s high calcium and conjugated linolic acid (CLA) content may play a role (585960).

What’s more, Greek yogurt contains only 6–8 grams of carbs per serving, which is lower than conventional yogurt. It’s also higher in protein, which promotes weight loss by reducing appetite and decreasing calorie intake (61).

BOTTOM LINE:Greek yogurt promotes healthy blood sugar levels, reduces risk factors for heart disease and may help with weight management.

8. Nuts

Nuts are delicious and nutritious.

All types of nuts contain fiber and are low in digestible carbs, although some have more than others.

Here are the amounts of digestible carbs per 1-oz (28-gram) serving of nuts:

  • Almonds: 2.6 grams
  • Brazil nuts: 1.4 grams
  • Cashews: 7.7 grams
  • Hazelnuts: 2 grams
  • Macadamia: 1.5 grams
  • Pecans: 1.2 grams
  • Pistachios: 5 grams
  • Walnuts: 2 grams

Research on a variety of different nuts has shown that regular consumption may reduce inflammation and lower blood sugar, HbA1c and LDL levels (62636465).

In one study, people with diabetes who included 30 grams of walnuts in their daily diet for one year lost weight, had improvements in body composition and experienced a significant reduction in insulin levels (66).

This finding is important because people with type 2 diabetes often have elevated levels of insulin, which are linked to obesity.

In addition, some researchers believe chronically high insulin levels increase the risk of other serious diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease (6768).

BOTTOM LINE:Nuts are a healthy addition to a diabetic diet. They’re low in digestible carbs and help reduce blood sugar, insulin and LDL levels.

9. Broccoli

Broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables around.

A half cup of cooked broccoli contains only 27 calories and 3 grams of digestible carbs, along with important nutrients like vitamin C and magnesium.

Studies in diabetics have found that broccoli may help lower insulin levels and protect cells from harmful free radicals produced during metabolism (6970).

What’s more, broccoli is another good source of lutein and zeaxanthin. These important antioxidants help prevent eye diseases (71).

BOTTOM LINE:Broccoli is a low-calorie, low-carb food with high nutrient value. It is loaded with healthy plant compounds that can protect against various diseases.

10. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Extra-virgin olive oil is extremely beneficial for heart health.

It contains oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fat that has been shown to improve triglycerides and HDL, which are often at unhealthy levels in type 2 diabetes.

It may also increase the fullness hormone GLP-1 (7273).

In a large analysis of 32 studies looking at different types of fat, olive oil was the only one shown to reduce heart disease risk (74).

Olive oil also contains antioxidants called polyphenols. They reduce inflammation, protect the cells lining your blood vessels, keep your LDL cholesterol from becoming damaged by oxidation and decrease blood pressure (757677).

Extra-virgin olive oil is unrefined and retains the antioxidants and other properties that make it so healthy. Be sure to choose extra-virgin olive oil from a reputable source, since many olive oils are mixed with cheaper oils like corn and soy (78).

BOTTOM LINE:Extra-virgin olive oil contains healthy oleic acid. It has benefits for blood pressure and heart health.

11. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are an incredibly healthy food.

A portion of their insoluble fiber is made up of lignans, which can decrease heart disease risk and improve blood sugar control (7980).

In one study, people with type 2 diabetes who took flaxseed lignans for 12 weeks had a significant improvement in hemoglobin A1c (80).

Another study suggested that flaxseeds may lower the risk of strokes and potentially reduce the dosage of medication needed to prevent blood clots (81).

Flaxseeds are very high in viscous fiber, which improves gut health, insulin sensitivity and feelings of fullness (828384).

Your body can’t absorb whole flaxseeds, so purchase ground seeds or grind them yourself. It’s also important to keep flaxseeds tightly covered in the refrigerator to prevent them from going rancid.

BOTTOM LINE:Flaxseeds may reduce inflammation, lower heart disease risk, decrease blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.

12. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits.

Although it’s made from apples, the sugar in the fruit is fermented into acetic acid, and the resulting product contains less than 1 gram of carbs per tablespoon.

Apple cider vinegar has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and lower fasting blood sugar levels. It may also reduce blood sugar response by as much as 20% when consumed with meals containing carbs (85868788).

In one study, people with poorly controlled diabetes had a 6% reduction in fasting blood sugar when they took 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed (88).

Apple cider vinegar may also slow stomach emptying and keep you feeling full.

However, this can be a problem for people who have gastroparesis, a condition of delayed stomach emptying that is common in diabetes, particularly type 1 (89).

To incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet, begin with 1 teaspoon mixed in a glass of water each day. Increase to a maximum of 2 tablespoons per day.

BOTTOM LINE:Apple cider vinegar can improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. It may also help you feel full for longer.

13. Strawberries

Strawberries are one of the most nutritious fruits you can eat.

They’re high in antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which give them their red color.

Anthocyanins have been shown to reduce cholesterol and insulin levels after a meal. They also improve blood sugar and heart disease risk factors in type 2 diabetes (909192).

A one-cup serving of strawberries contains 49 calories and 11 grams of carbs, three of which are fiber.

This serving also provides more than 100% of the RDI for vitamin C, which provides additional anti-inflammatory benefits for heart health (11).

BOTTOM LINE:Strawberries are low-sugar fruits that have strong anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce heart disease risk.

14. Garlic

Garlic is a delicious herb with impressive health benefits.

Several studies have shown it can reduce inflammation, blood sugar and LDL cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes (939495).

It may also be very effective at reducing blood pressure (9697).

In one study, people with uncontrolled high blood pressure who took aged garlic for 12 weeks averaged a 10-point decrease in blood pressure (97).

One clove of raw garlic contains only 4 calories and 1 gram of carbs.

BOTTOM LINE:Garlic helps lower blood sugar, inflammation, LDL cholesterol and blood pressure in people with diabetes.

15. Squash

Squash is one of the healthiest vegetables around.

Winter varieties have a hard shell and include acorn, pumpkin and butternut.

Summer squash has a soft peel that can be eaten. The most common types are zucchini and Italian squash.

Like most vegetables, squash contains beneficial antioxidants. Many types of winter squash are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect against cataracts and macular degeneration.

Animal studies using squash extract have also reported reductions in obesity and insulin levels (9899).

Although there’s very little research on humans, one study found that people with type 2 diabetes who took an extract of the winter squash Cucurbita ficifolia experienced a significant decrease in blood sugar levels (100).

However, winter squash is higher in carbs than summer squash.

For example, 1 cup of cooked pumpkin contains 9 grams of digestible carbs, while 1 cup of cooked zucchini contains only 3 grams of digestible carbs.

BOTTOM LINE:Summer and winter squash contain beneficial antioxidants and may help lower blood sugar and insulin levels.

16. Shirataki Noodles

Shirataki noodles are wonderful for diabetes and weight control.

These noodles are high in the fiber glucomannan, which is extracted from konjac root.

This plant is grown in Japan and processed into the shape of noodles or rice known as shirataki.

Glucomannan is a type of viscous fiber, which makes you feel full and satisfied. It also lowers levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin (101).

What’s more, it’s been shown to reduce blood sugar levels after eating and improve heart disease risk factors in people with diabetes and metabolic syndrome (102103104105).

A 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving of shirataki noodles also contains less than one gram of digestible carbs and just two calories per serving.

However, these noodles are typically packaged with a liquid that has a fishy odor and you need to rinse them very well before use. Then, to ensure a noodle-like texture, cook the noodles for several minutes in a skillet over high heat without added fat.

BOTTOM LINE:The glucomannan in shirataki noodles promotes feelings of fullness and can improve blood sugar control and cholesterol levels.

Take Home Message

Uncontrolled diabetes increases your risk of several serious diseases.

However, eating foods that help keep blood sugar, insulin and inflammation under control can dramatically reduce your risk of developing complications.

Dark, Milk or White – Which Chocolate Is Best for Your Heart?

white milk and dark chocolates

Chocolate is good for blood flow, which means it’s good for your heart. But not all chocolate is created equal. We asked registered dietitian Mira Ilic, RD, LD, to give us the breakdown about which chocolate is best for your heart health.

Is chocolate good for your heart?

Ahh, the rich flavor of chocolate! It comes from the “flavonoids” in cocoa beans — which are also the reason that chocolate is so healthy for your heart. Flavonoids are antioxidants that fight cell-damaging free radicals in your body.

These flavonoids help your heart by:

  • Controlling cholesterol.
  • Lowering blood pressure.
  • Reducing your risk of blood clots.
  • Inhibiting sticky platelets.
  • Improving blood flow to your vital organs.

Dark chocolate is best for you because it’s the least processed chocolate, which means it contains the highest percentage of flavonoid-filled cocoa bean (cocoa).

Are all types of chocolate healthy?

Before you grab a chocolate candy bar or slice of chocolate cake, it’s important to understand that not all forms of chocolate contain high levels of flavanols.

Cocoa naturally has a very strong, pungent taste, which comes from the flavanols. When cocoa is processed into your favorite chocolate products, it goes through several steps to reduce this taste. The more chocolate is processed (through things like fermentation, alkalizing, roasting, etc.), the more flavanols are lost.

Dark chocolate. Also called semi-sweet chocolate, dark chocolate has at least 35% cocoa to be called dark. The remainder is cocoa butter (the natural fat of the cocoa bean), sugar, an emulsifier (what holds ingredients together) and vanilla or other flavorings. Milk may be added to soften texture.

Recommendations:

  • The darker the better! Eat chocolate with the highest cocoa content — 70% to 85%.
  • Plain dark chocolate provides the greatest benefit. Avoid fillings unless they are nuts or dried or fresh fruit.
  • A little goes a long way. Enjoy up to 1 oz. daily. Be sure to trim calories elsewhere to avoid weight gain.
  • Standard larger chocolate bars are around 3.5 oz. (about 100 g), so a good rule of thumb is to eat no more than ⅓ of the bar at a time.

Nutrition: 8-12 g fat, 0 trans fat per 1 oz. or 28.4 g. Provides magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium and trace amounts of vitamins.

Milk chocolate. The FDA requires that milk chocolate contain at least 10% cocoa and at least 12% dry milk solids. Like dark chocolate, the remainder is cocoa butter, sugar, an emulsifier and vanilla or other flavorings.

Recommendations:

  • Eat in limited amounts. Milk chocolate is filled with more sugar and fat than dark chocolate.
  • Read ingredients on the package to know what you’re getting. ​

Nutrition: 12+ g fat per 1 oz or 28.4 g. Provides potassium and trace amounts of vitamins.

White chocolate. A derivative of chocolate, it’s made of 20% (or more) of cocoa butter and up to 55% sugar, plus milk solids, lecithin and vanilla and other flavorings.

Recommendations: Avoid or eat in very limited amounts!

Nutrition: Not much! Mostly sugar and fat.

The bottom line

Chocolate with over 70% cocoa packs the best punch for your health, but enjoy it in small amounts: 100 g of dark chocolate has 500 calories!

Unsweetened chocolate is 100% cocoa. It’s very bitter and only eaten as part of prepared baked goods. Try using 100% cocoa powder in hot cocoa, homemade baked goods and recipes (replacing milk chocolate) or add it to a smoothie or coffee for rich flavor.