Excessive consumption of sugar increases the risk of many diseases, such as tooth decay, hypertension, being overweight or obese, hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol levels), hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels), and diabetes.
However, incorporating certain foods as part of a healthy diet can lower or regulate blood glucose levels and prevent the onset of these problems. Find out here what the best options are.
Our body needs different types of nutrients to function properly, such as vitamins, proteins, minerals, fats, and carbohydrates.
Sugar, also called glucose, belongs to the group of carbohydrates, and, being transported by the blood, it serves to transfer energy to all the cells of the organism.
The body is capable of generating glucose on its own or incorporating and processing glucose that is naturally found in certain foods.
The problem arises when dealing with added sugars, added during food processing. These are usually found in soft drinks, fruit drinks, sweets, cookies, or desserts, among others.
How much sugar to consume per day?
When drawing the limits on the recommended daily consumption of sugar, we can find different amounts.
In general, experts advise that consumption represents 5% of total caloric intake, or a maximum of 10%. There is also talk of 25 g or 6 teaspoons for women, and 36 g or 9 teaspoons for men.
Another factor to take into account when controlling glucose levels is the food’s glycemic index (GI). This is a measure of how quickly a food can raise your blood sugar level. These can be low GI (0 to 55), moderate (56 to 69) and high (70 or more).
Try incorporating the following foods to complement a healthy diet to help regulate your blood sugar levels:
Nuts, grains and seeds
Almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts (common, Pecan or Macadamia), or pistachios, are nuts.
This means that less than half of its composition is made up of water. Normally, they are energetic foods, rich in healthy fats and proteins, and are usually recommended to control blood sugar levels since they have a low GI (13) and their consumption improves insulin resistance.
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The researchers agree that the recommended daily intake, to take advantage of its benefits without suffering its adverse effects, is 10 units per day.
Seeds are another beneficial group, as they share beneficial properties for controlling glucose levels: they are high in fiber and healthy fats, improve insulin sensitivity, and have a low GI.
For example, chia seeds 25, sunflower and sesame or sesame seeds 35, flax seeds 51, while pumpkin seeds 25.
Finally, there are many cereals that, thanks to their composition rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, are ideal for being part of the diet of people with diabetes. Among the best are oats (IG 40), barley (45) and quinoa (35).
Although it is believed to the contrary due to its sweet nature, people with diabetes can and should include fruits in their diets, since they contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals, which play a key role in a healthy diet.
It is advisable to opt for citrus fruits, such as lemons (IG 20), grapefruit (30) or oranges (35), forest fruits, such as blueberries (25), strawberries (25), or cherries (25), kiwi (50), apples (35), pears (30), pineapple (45), or grapes (45).
Vegetables are rich in fiber, phytochemicals, minerals, vitamins and have few carbohydrates. Try the following non-starchy options to regulate glucose levels:
- Chard: According to the available scientific evidence, it inhibits the activity of an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase. Therefore, it is believed that Swiss chard plays a very important role in regulating blood sugar levels, keeping them stable and preventing the famous “spikes” from occurring. His GI is 15.
- Broccoli: Historically it was recommended as part of a diet to keep blood glucose levels under control. Recent research found that this may be because it contains sulforaphane and kaempferol, compounds that improve insulin resistance. His GI is 15.
- kale: thanks to the fact that it has a significant presence of alpha lipoic acid, it is linked to better control of diabetes. This is because this compound is related to lower blood sugar levels and greater sensitivity to insulin, thus preventing dangerous glucose “crashes” or “spikes”. His GI is 15.
If excess glucose is not addressed, the consequences can be very serious, such as:
- Injuries to the eyes, kidneys and nerves.
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke.
- Need to amputate a limb.
The aforementioned foods should also be used as complements to a healthy diet, but not abuse their consumption, since their hypoglycemic effects can interfere with or enhance the action of certain medications that are taken for the same purpose.
Until there is meaningful scientific evidence from human trials, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should be very careful.
Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, but first talk to your doctor about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.
Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.
Sources consulted: American Diabetes Association, US National Library of Medicine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.