Five Ways to Slash Your Diabetes Risk

Posted on by Neal Barnard, MD, FACC

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Fatty foods are public enemy No. 1 when it comes to developing type 2 diabetes. Why? Fat molecules, or lipids, enter our cells and cause a condition called insulin resistance. When that happens, glucose (blood sugar) has trouble getting into the cells and starts to build up in the bloodstream. This creates the foundation for type 2 diabetes and can force us to rely on oral medications, insulin injections, and other treatments.

The good news is we can fix it. A plant-based vegan diet is clinically proven to restore insulin function naturally. By building meals around the four food groups – vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes – you’ll rebalance fat stores and start to repair insulin function, and thereby slash your diabetes risk.

Here are five ways to get started:

  1. Water. Use water sautés or vegetable broth instead of marinating vegetables in oils, butter, and margarine. This helps retain the flavor, without extra calories and fat.
  2. Edamame. Any type of bean – green, black, red, white or blue – fits into a plant-based diet. One easy way to start is with edamame, which you can purchase shelled or pick straight from the pod. Legumes are packed with protein and fiber, which satiates hunger.
  3. Nutritional Yeast. If you’ve ever felt addicted to cheese, you’re not alone. Cheese derives 70% of its calories from fat and contains casomorphins, compounds that trigger our dopamine receptors. One easy way to break free from this diabetes-inducing habit is to swap cheese-like substitutes into your favorite dish. Pasta and pizza can stay on the menu, but instead of adding meat and cheese, use fresh romaine, tomatoes, and a mix of nutritional yeast, garlic powder, lemon juice and garbanzo beans.
  4. Kale. Leafy greens, like kale, Swiss chard, fresh romaine, and micro greens, rank high on nutrient-index scores since they are rich in calcium, potassium, fiber, vitamins A, B, C and K, magnesium, iron and protein. Research shows people who consume 2.5 daily servings of leafy green vegetables – a few cups of raw salad greens or 1.5 cups of steamed greens – slash their diabetes risk by 14%.
  5. Quinoa. This ancient grain is versatile, cooks quickly, absorbs flavor (sweet or savory), and earns accolades from the National Academy of Sciences for its amino acid profile. Serve it in a breakfast bowl with fresh berries and herbs, as a side salad with beans, or in place of pasta and rice.

Good Side Effects: Most people who adopt a low-fat, plant-based diet gain energy, lose weight, and see their blood pressure and cholesterol fall into a healthy range.

Photo from here, with thanks.