Summer is here! As the weather heats up, you can cool down with a variety of fresh, healthy super foods:
Avocados are packed with delicious fats which have anti-inflammatory properties. These fats, along with the Vitamin E in avocados, lower “bad” cholesterol and strengthen blood vessels and capillaries. All of these benefits combine to lower risk for heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases. Vitamin E also strengthens the immune system, helping to keep you healthy. In individuals with diabetes, Vitamin E helps to protect against neuropathy (nerve damage caused by high blood sugar.) Vitamin E is essential for healthy hair and nails, as well.
Research has also shown that eating avocados can have a positive impact on insulin levels. Monounsaturated fats help boost insulin function, and aid in keeping blood sugar lower and more stable. An avocado is a great source of fiber, which helps to regulate blood sugar, as well. Fiber also promotes a healthy gut and colon, helps to control appetite, and can be helpful in achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight.
Blueberries are a great source of vitamins and soluble fiber. Fiber helps the gut stay on track and process food more efficiently. The gut has a huge effect on stabilizing blood sugar. Studies have found that glucose levels reduce over time when blueberries are included in one’s diet. In fact, one study by the USDA, consuming 2 ½ cups of fresh blueberry juice per day lowered blood glucose levels, improved depression symptoms, and sharpened memory.
Fermented foods have been growing in popularity in the United States lately, and for good reason. Kimchi and sauerkraut are two of the most well-known fermented foods. Other foods like yogurt, kombucha (a fermented sweet tea), kefir (a fermented milk beverage), and tempeh (fermented soybeans) are also popular.
Fermented foods contain healthy bacteria that aid the body in several ways, from digestion to regulating cholesterol. Yogurt has been shown to reduce risk for heart disease, and kimchi to reduce risk of diabetes complications and obesity. Check out these 10 foods you can ferment yourself at home!
Time to break out the grill! Everyone loves a good burger or hot dog, but try grilling a piece of fresh fish instead. The high omega-3 fatty acid content in cold-water fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel can help to lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This, in turn, can help to balance your blood sugar levels, and reduce risk of heart disease. In one study by Emory University, eating steamed, baked, or broiled fish was shown to reduce stroke risk. In that same study, consuming fried fish increased one’s risk for stroke. The method of preparation can completely alter a food’s nutritional impact on the body; be sure to keep this in mind.
Green tea is loaded with “flavonoids” which dramatically lower inflammation. Because chronic inflammation increases the risk of heart attack and diabetes complications, unsweetened green tea is a great beverage choice for diabetics. Research has also shown that green tea increases thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is the rate at which the body burns calories while digesting food. An increase in this rate can improve metabolic rate, as well.
As the weather turns hot and humid, the body can experience swelling and inflammation. Pineapples can aid in the reduction of this swelling and because they are high in Vitamin C will give your immunity a boost while hanging around crowded pools or beaches. Pineapples also contain bromelain, an enzyme that helps to improve digestion and prevents the formation of blood clots.
Vitamins C, B, A, D and E, amino acids, calcium, copper and iron are just a few of the natural detoxifying and energy-boosting properties found in spirulina. Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is found around the world from Hawaii, to Africa, to Mexico. It has also been shown to prevent atherosclerosis, lower blood pressure, and reduce elevated cholesterol levels. It can also help speed weight loss and curb hunger. Try adding spirulina powder to water or freshly squeezed juice.
It’s all in the name: watermelons are comprised of 92 percent water. This makes chowing down on a cold slice of watermelon and ideal way to cool down and stay hydrated this summer. This delicious melon is full of vitamins A, C, B6, potassium, and magnesium. Not to mention, watermelon contains more lycopene (a powerful antioxidant) than a tomato! As with all fresh fruit, be mindful of the amount of natural sugars they contain and portion accordingly.
Enjoy a fun and healthy summer! Oh, and don’t forget your sunscreen; diabetes can affect your skin!