Beating the Sugar Blues of Diabetes with Blueberries October 17, 2011

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by Vishal Jadhav

Blueberries are a "super fruit" due to its antioxidant properties which help those with against diabetes. There is not a definitive list of "Super Fruits." It's a marketing term which refers to the abundance of antioxidants, taste and other nutrients that contribute to one's health. If you have diabetes and are searching for healthy foods, the blueberry is one food that should be one your list.

Fruits have a lot of natural sugar, but Mother Nature has made some fruits high in the glycemic index and some low. The lower the fruit is in the Glycemic Index the longer time to digest and as such enter the blood stream slower than other sugars. For example, cherries are low with a value of 22, watermelons are high at 72, mangoes at 56 and blueberries have a value of 40.

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Persons with diabetes may choose this "super fruit" to lower post-meal blood sugar levels. The blue color is actually an antioxidant called anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is an antioxidant that slows down cell damage in the body. High blood sugar can cause this cell damage, and antioxidants can decrease the damage caused by diabetes. Think of oxidative damage as a cut apple turning brown. The antioxidant would be like protecting the apple from turning brown. In your body, an antioxidant process, like the lemon juice on the apple, stops the browning or damage.

Blueberries are naturally sweet and can help you overcome those sugar blues. A blueberry smoothie is a healthy, low fat, low sugar choice. One cup of blueberries are only 80 Calories and 20 gm of carb. They contain flavonoids which arm our cells and reverses from metabolic defects of diabetes. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, adding one half to one cup blueberries per day will promote health.

Try blueberries in some new ways:

  • Add blueberries fresh or dried to peanut butter sandwiches.
  • Spread a thin layer of low-fat cream cheese on toast and top with blueberries.
  • Mix blueberries into plain nonfat yogurt.
  • Sprinkle them on cereal.
  • Add them to salads

A study performed at the University of California Davis and published in the Journal of Nutrition showed at the end of six weeks 67 percent of participants in bioactive smoothie group had 10 percent higher insulin sensitivity (better blood sugar control) compared to those not getting the bioactive smoothie. Adding blueberries to the smoothies can be an attractive and convenient dietary intervention for persons with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Blueberry Smoothie

Makes 4 servings.

1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
12/ cup pink grapefruit cocktail (or orange juice or apricot nectar)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
One medium fresh banana

Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth and creamy.
Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Fresh blueberries are not always a convenient option and could be very expensive, depending on the season and whether you choose organic or not. You might consider eating 1/4 cup of dried blueberries every day as they are readily available. That will contain 140 calories and only 33 grams carbohydrate. Blueberries will be very energizing and an easy option for on the go people. The message is shop by color. The more colorful your grocery basket looks, the more antioxidants and more insulin sensitivity you will have in your meals. This will lead to better diabetes control.

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About the Author

Vishal Jadhav is a pre-med student at University of Texas, Austin, majoring in nutrition. He researched and presented on HDL (good cholesterol) cholesterol as a senior in high school. Vishal is a volunteer at Seton Diabetes Education Center and is interested in diabetes prevention.

Seton Diabetes Education Center offers a full range of education services designed to help persons with diabetes and pre-diabetes lead a healthy life. If you would like more information on diabetes, call (512) 324-1891 to learn more about diabetes and pre-diabetes education classes. Seton Diabetes Education Center also offers free educational support activities and diabetes prevention classes.

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