Control and prevent diabetes with these 5 power foods

The prevalence of obesity is soaring at an alarming rate in many parts of the world

Racha Adib
Racha Adib - Special to Al Arabiya News
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The prevalence of diabetes is soaring at an alarming rate in many parts of the world with high rates registering in the Middle East and North Africa. According to the International Diabetes Federation, without lifestyle changes, a quarter of the Middle East’s population will be affected by 2035. The most alarming part is that 1 in 2 people with diabetes don’t even know they have it.

Perhaps surprisingly, 70% of cases have been linked to the lifestyle the diabetics choose to follow. By altering your food choices, you can protect yourself from getting diabetes or manage existing diabetes and sometimes even reverse it.

Because including the right foods can have a substantial impact on your blood sugar levels and overall wellness, we’ve listed some great foods that could be beneficial for both diabetics and non-diabetics alike.

We’ve been seeing this word quite often in 2014, and it basically means Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which deserves its spot in the trending foods list.


Olive oil has been long touted due to its health benefits, but when it is extra virgin, it means the oil has been minimally processed and retains its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Not only does EVOO add flavor to your dishes, it’s also a great option for diabetics as a source of good Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA) fats. Incorporating MUFAs in your diet can help control your blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance, the culprit behind your diabetes.

Drizzle oil on your salads, in your yogurt, or over your hummus. Like all fats, EVOO contains nine calories per gram surpassing both carbs and protein in calorie content, so make sure to limit the amounts you use.

Kale, spinach, chicory – whatever tickles your fancy – is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables and exceptionally low in calories and glycemic index, which means it won’t raise your blood sugar levels. It’s also a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which can strengthen the eye sight of diabetics.


Add these greens to your salad, soups, or sandwiches or bake and season them to make chips as an afternoon snack.

Based on available research, cinnamon may improve the body’s response to insulin and regulate blood glucose levels in patients with Type 2 Diabetes. A study published in the journal “Diabetes Care” showed that in subjects with Type 2 Diabetes, consumption of cinnamon for 40 days showed an 18 to 29 percent reduction in fasting glucose levels, while no changes were found in the placebo group. Although more consistent studies are needed, consuming cinnamon won’t hurt.


Enjoy cinnamon as a tea or sprinkle it on top of your morning oatmeal or on sweet potatoes before baking.

Chia Seeds are all over the news today, and stealing a bit of Sardine’s thunder. Both are a rich source of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, which may raise your good HDL cholesterol levels and reduce your triglyceride levels, goals of people with diabetes.


Although Chia seeds have 12 times more omega-3 than Sardines, when put under the microscope, they don’t have the same effect on your body. There is more than one type of omega-3s particulary α-Linolenic Acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are the active forms of omega-3 fatty acids, found in oceanic fish like Sardines, while ALA is found in plant based food like Chia seeds and can be converted to EPA and DHA in the body, but only poorly. So oily fish really is the best source of omega-3 and Sardine contains less mercury than Salmon and is more readily available.

Include fresh or canned fatty fish at least once to twice a week in your diet to reap the benefits.

Also spelled maccha, Matcha refers to a powdered form of green tea produced by grinding green tea leaves with a stone mill; hence the concentration of its potent antioxidant EGCG, responsible for its therapeutic effect, is at least three times greater than regular green tea. The results of a study published in the Journal of Medicinal foods suggested that Matcha may decrease glucose, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels due to its antioxidant content, and therefore help prevent kidney damage, a common consequence of diabetes,

Add a splash of lemon juice to your green tea for bonus antioxidant activity.


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