It is no exaggeration to say that berries can be an almost ideal snack for diabetic patients and people at risk of developing diabetes – with insulin resistance and the so-called prediabetes. Find out why you should include them in your “diabetic” diet and the best way to do so to keep your blood glucose in check.
Let’s start with a reminder that type 2 diabetes – dubbed the epidemic of the 21st century by experts – is a metabolic disease characterized by elevated blood glucose levels that develop due to impaired insulin action or secretion.
“Diabetes is a set of metabolic disorders that lead to abnormal function of many organs and systems e.g., eyes, heart, kidneys. It is now known that one of the risk factors for diabetes is poor diet. Arguably, many cases of this disease could be prevented or slowed down with the introduction of proper eating habits,” reads the National Center for Nutrition Education (NCEŻ) website.
Medics agree that the most important risk factor for the development of this disease is excessive body weight (especially obesity) resulting from improper diet and too little physical activity. Therefore, type 2 diabetes is counted among the so-called civilization diseases, whose incidence in our times – due to the highly consumptive and sedentary lifestyle – is increasing very quickly.
It is optimistic, however, that both simple obesity (unrelated to disease, medication, etc.) and type 2 diabetes are largely preventable, and even when they do develop, they can be effectively managed – largely through appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes.
“Berries can help regulate glycemia and improve tissue sensitivity to insulin. Numerous studies conducted on groups of volunteers indicate that these fruits can reduce blood glucose levels while increasing cellular sensitivity to insulin. Importantly, this beneficial effect applies to healthy people as well as those with insulin resistance,” emphasizes Dr Justyna Bylinowska in a professional article on the nutritional and health benefits of berries, published on the portal dietetycy.org.pl.
Recall that berries are not just blueberries, though. This group also includes, among others: raspberries, blackberries, black and red currants, honeyberries, gooseberries, strawberries, chokeberries or kiwi berries.
It is worth adding that although berries are recommended in the “diabetic” diet (and favoured among other fruit groups), one should not overdo their consumption, which in this case also applies to other fruits. Experts point out that people with diabetes are generally advised to eat less fruit than the healthy general population – specifically, no more than 200-300 g per day in total (due to the fact that all fruit contains simple sugars that quickly raise blood glucose levels). Therefore, experts suggest that diabetics should divide their fruit intake into several smaller portions throughout the day, and it is best to consume them in combination with other foods. So, what are they?
“Berries are best eaten with yoghurt or nuts, such as a snack between meals or a healthy dessert. Combining them with protein and fat slows down the absorption of simple carbohydrates, which in practice lowers the glycemic index of a fruit meal (the increase in blood glucose level caused by it is smaller and slower),” says Monika Stromkie-Złomaniec, clinical dietician and Core Team expert.
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