Q: Dr. Stanislaw, I know fruits and vegetables are healthy but I'm not always sure if fruit is good for someone with diabetes, and which ones are the best? Please help.
A: Great question! The health benefits of fruits and vegetables are many and should definitely be included in everyone's diet, including people like us with diabetes. I will answer more fully in this article below...
Most of us today are busier than ever. We eat on the run. Unhealthy ready-made meals and snacks are everywhere. The quality of food in general in the past few decades has decreased plus our fast-paced lifestyle keeps getting faster. Thus it is more important than ever to attain the recommended 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Yes of course, food is one of the greatest pleasures in life. But the main reason why we eat is to attain the nutrients contained in food to feed the cells in our body. Thus the quality of what you eat directly correlates with the health of your body. The more nutrient dense your diet, the better your health…Enter fruits and vegetables!
Fruits and vegetables are densely packed with blood sugar balancing fiber, vital nutrients, and health promoting minerals. They are the foods with the most nutritional bang for your buck; foods that bring you the most health promoting nutrients bite, for bite. If you want optimal health and functioning of every cell in your body, you must eat fruits and vegetables.
Here are the benefits to you of eating fruits and vegetables:
- A healthier body due to having well-nourished cells
- Enhanced circulation, which leads to an additional benefit of increased nutrient distribution to every cell in your body
- Improved digestion
- Enhanced protection against illness and disease
- Increased immune system strength
- Increased energy and endurance
- Enhanced well-being mentally and physically
If you are truly dedicated to keeping your body healthy, including 5-10 servings a day is one of the most important steps you can take. Wherever you are with your intake, decide how you can increase it by one or two steps. Not eating any veggies? Start with a goal of eating them twice per week and grow over time. If you are already eating them somewhat regularly but want to add more, make a point to include vegetables at every dinner plus aim for at least 2 salads at lunch per week. You could make a commitment of buying at least 1 fruit and 2 different vegetables every time you go to the store. Make a game out of it and shoot for 3 different colors per day.
Some fruits with the lowest impact on blood sugar are apples, cherries, grapefruit, pears, plums, and berries. Some of the worst for blood sugar regulation are bananas, pineapple, melons, and dried fruit. Most all veggies have a low impact on blood sugar, except the ones to limit are: potatoes, corn, peas, acorn and butternut squash. Vegetables from the cruciferous family are very beneficial to the liver, which is important given the fact that a large percentage of people with type 2 diabetes have fatty liver disease. These veggies include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, and bok choy. This family also has strong anti-cancer properties.
It is ideal to eat vegetables in their nature made form (not processed). Steaming, sauteing, or baking are the quickest and easiest ways to prepare them.
Including an abundance of vegetables and 1-2 fruits per day is an important and simple step for not only optimizing your health, but you’ll enjoy a great boost in your energy and health! Enjoy!