Diabetes is a growing problem; along with a larger ageing population, it’s expected to put a lot of pressure on the NHS in the coming years due to the obesity crisis. Diabetes is a serious condition and one that in most cases may be controlled through the individual’s diet and exercise. However, diabetics don’t need to totally avoid indulgent food, you can still enjoy some of the following rich treats without putting your health at risk.
Full-Fat Dairy Products
This particularly applies to plain yoghurt but it also applies to flavoured yoghurt and milk drinks. When a food has reduced fat content, it often has more sugar or carb types which are converted to sugars. Sugar is one of the main things that diabetics need to be aware of and the added carbs often perform the same function as sugar – raising the blood glucose level. We have a misunderstanding of fat that leads us to choose low-fat options, believing them healthier when they aren’t. However, always check the sugar content before choosing a low-fat option and compare.
Beef, lamb, pork, and other red meats have also received a bad reputation in recent years, especially concerning the increased cancer risk (which most medical researchers will tell you is negligible). Red meat is high in iron and protein – nutrients that the body needs for good health. It’s also low in carbs and low in sugars, so red meat is largely safe to eat for diabetics. Just remember to eat it in moderation for other health reasons and get plenty of vegetables to balance it out.
It seems one day they are healthy and the next day they’re not. There are misconceptions about eggs – particularly surrounding the cholesterol – but the evidence at present indicates that you can eat as many as you like. They are good for controlling appetite, reducing instances of binge eating and the cholesterol doesn’t enter the bloodstream, which is good news. Eggs are healthy, contain natural fats, are high in protein, and low in sugar and carbs. They also have an interesting and unusual effect for diabetics in that they prevent large and erratic changes in blood sugar levels.
Specifically, the healthier (and often more expensive) brands are better than those full of sugar and not much in the way of actual peanuts. You can also eat lots of natural peanuts, preferably plain rather than salted. Studies have shown that peanuts reduce blood cholesterol, along with almonds and pistachios. The reason that good quality peanut butter has the same effect is because the high peanut content is a paste and therefore a concentrated form of the high in fibre, protein, and natural oils.
High Cocoa Chocolate
This will be music to the ears of most people, diabetic or not. For this, you will need to stick to dark chocolate. The best examples are what we might consider luxury or “continental” chocolate; high in cocoa (75% and higher), milk, and low in sugar. Other types of chocolate have too much sugar. But why is dark chocolate so good for diabetics? Studies have shown that it has several benefits:
• Increases insulin sensitivity, controlling blood glucose levels
• Reduces blood cholesterol
• On a non-diabetic note, it helps reduce blood pressure and improves blood vessel flow
As with everything, it’s important to consume dark chocolate in moderation. Even chocolate high in cocoa and low in sugar is high in calories.