I don’t write much about food choices. But believe me, as a person with diabetes (and gluten intolerance), I struggle with them all the time. We PWDs are used to hearing the “generic” nutritional suggestions from our dietitians and CDEs: don’t eat too much sugar, eat lots of veggies, drink water, etc. But what about something more concrete, as in: what are some specific good choices to put on your plate?
Today, Alenka Ravnik-List, a CDE and registered dietitian who works at the Mount Sinai Division of Endocrinology in New York City, offers up five fresh suggestions for your next grocery trip that you may not have considered.
Recommended by Alenka Ravnik-List, Nutritionist & Certified Diabetes Educator:
1) Wild Salmon
The Omega-3 in fatty fish like salmon can help reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Since wild-caught salmon has less PCB contaminants than farmed salmon, you should try to buy the wild-caught kind. If you can’t get it fresh, you can go for the canned version, which is also wild-caught but more wallet-friendly. Keep in mind that the American Heart Association recommends eating at least 2 servings (8 ounces) a week. So remember to go fish next time you visit to your local market!
2) Chia Seeds
Do you remember Chia Pets? Well there is more than green hair in the unforgettable pet. Its diminutive seeds also have unbelievably healthy attributes. In fact, the tiny seeds are a vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids, like flax seeds, but with the advantage that Chia seeds don’t deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid. Another benefit is that Chia seeds do not have to be ground to make their nutrients available to the body. Chia seeds also provide fiber, as well as calcium, antioxidants and are gluten-free. If you’re wondering what to do with them, here’s a place to start getting together a few recipes.
Quinoa is highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high, making it a healthy choice for vegetarians, vegans and athletes. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in the essential amino acid Lysine), Quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, making it an unusually complete protein source.
Quinoa is also an excellent source of magnesium, potassium, and dietary fiber. It gets better; Quinoa is a prebiotic (good for your intestines) and is also gluten-free. So, give this pseudo ancient grain a try, you won’t regret it!
(Editor’s Note: I eat this as a substitute for couscous, which is wheat. Quinoa = yum!)
4) Greek Yogurt
If you are tired of the same old yogurt or looking for something thicker and creamer, then you should try Greek yogurt.
Plain low-fat Greek yogurt has twice as much protein than regular yogurt, up to 50% less sodium, and is lower in carbohydrates.
It is also an excellent source of calcium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and provides zinc, which can be deficient in some people with diabetes and aids in immune function and wound healing. The health-promoting bacteria in yogurt are beneficial for digestive health, including lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome. And don’t forget, it tastes good — especially with a simple topping sprinkled on top.
5) Dark Chocolate
We’ve all read the headlines that dark chocolate can be really good for you… but don’t rush out and load up on Hershey Kisses just yet. Not all chocolate is created equally. The dark varieties (the higher cocoa content) do offer medicinal benefits. A recent AHA report states that flavones in cocoa can actually aid in lowering blood pressure, improving blood sugar control, and reducing LDL (bad cholesterol) by approximately 10%. The key is to get as much cocoa in the product as possible. Look for at least 70% cocoa on the label. (Some experts point out that Hershey’s Special Dark contain little chocolate, but mostly milk solids and sugar and a bit of cocoa held together by cocoa butter and soy lecithin.)
Remember to look for lots of real cocoa in the product, and be calorie smart: instead of reaching for the whole candy bar, try rationing yourself to the satisfying taste of about one ounce of dark chocolate per day.
Thank you for that, Alenka
— and bon appétit to All!