Have a (lunchtime) coffee or two.
Recent studies clearly connect coffee drinking with a lower risk for developing diabetes. In one of them, researchers followed the diets of nearly 70,000 nondiabetic French women for about 11 years. During that time, 1,415 of them developed diabetes. Turns out, the women who drank coffee at lunchtime had a significantly lower risk of developing diabetes-and it didn’t matter whether they drank regular or decaf.
These studies build on what researchers already know from at least nine previous studies involving almost 200,000 people in the United States, Europe, and Japan: Coffee drinkers have a substantially lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Do the cinnamon sprinkle.
A few years ago, researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture studied cinnamon’s effects on volunteers with type 2 diabetes. Those who took either 1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon (about ½, 1, or 2 teaspoons) or a placebo for 40 days saw their blood glucose levels drop 18 to 29 percent, depending on the amount they took.
More recently, 109 people with poorly controlled diabetes either received standard care, or took ½ teaspoon of cinnamon a day for 90 days (plus standard care). Those who took the cinnamon substantially lowered the critical blood sugar marker, HbA1C. When diabetics lower their HbA1C number to the extent the people in this study did, they lower their risks for developing heart disease by 16 percent, diabetic retinopathy (an eye disease that can cause blindness) by 20 percent, and kidney disease by as much as 33 percent.
Experts suggest that just ½ teaspoon of cinnamon a day can help lower your blood sugar and drop your risks for dangerous diabetic complications. This could be one of the easiest of all home remedies: Just sprinkle this delicious spice into hot and cold cereal, yogurt, coffee, or tea once a day.
Get friendly with fenugreek.
If you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, meet this little brownish-yellow spice seed. It has a subtle, almost smoky flavor, and it’s mostly used in Indian cuisine to flavor curries. Traditional Indian healers use it medicinally for a slew of health problems, including diabetes, and now researchers are discovering that those healers were apparently on the right track. Three different studies have determined that fenugreek lowers glucose levels in type 2 diabetics, increases glycemic control, and decreases insulin resistance. And in a new study, people who took 4 teaspoons of powdered fenugreek every day for eight weeks lowered their fasting blood sugar by 25 percent. They also slashed their triglyceride and LDL (bad) cholesterol numbers, too-by 30 percent each.
To reap fenugreek’s blood sugar-lowering benefits, plan to use it daily. You can powder the seeds in a clean coffee grinder and mix with hot water for a tea, or you can mix the powder into breads, muffins, and cooked foods. Aim for 4 teaspoons of powdered fenugreek a day. Do not use fenugreek during pregnancy because it can stimulate uterine contractions.
Stock soba noodles.
This tasty Japanese pasta is made from buckwheat flour, which is milled from a fruit seed, so it’s not a true grain. In a Canadian study on rats with type 1 diabetes, consuming regular amounts of buckwheat lowered their blood glucose levels by 12 to 19 percent. The study’s authors concluded that buckwheat is “a safe, easy, and inexpensive way to lower glucose levels and reduce diabetic complications, including heart, nerve, and kidney problems.” In another study, when researchers followed almost 36,000 women in Iowa for six years, they discovered that women who ate three servings of whole grains a day, including buckwheat, had a 21 percent lower risk of diabetes than women who ate just one serving a week. Buckwheat is also a good source of fiber and important minerals. Use buckwheat flour in recipes for pancakes, muffins, and breads.
Choose fiber-rich bread.
Search for whole-grain breads that contain at least 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein per slice (more is better). High-fiber whole-grain bread slows the absorption of glucose and decreases insulin spikes. According to the journal Diabetes Care, eating whole grains regularly reduces your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Enjoy a glass of wine with your dinner.
One study found that women who had a drink of wine a day cut their risk of diabetes in half compared to teetotalers. Not a wine lover? The study found the same effects for beer. But cork the wine bottle once dinner is over. An Australian study found that drinking a glass of wine immediately after eating can result in a sudden drop in the insulin in your blood, meaning the glucose from your meal hangs around longer, eventually damaging arteries.
Make some walnut burgers.
You’d be surprised how delectable-and easy-it is to use walnuts in recipes for burgers, meatballs, and other tasty treats. And they add a yummy crunch when toasted and tossed into salads. The latest research confirms that eating walnuts is a brilliant strategy for people with type 2 diabetes. In new study conducted at Yale University School of Medicine, researchers put 24 people with type 2 diabetes on diets containing a half cup a day of walnuts or on walnut-free diets. After eight weeks, the walnut eaters had significantly improved heart health markers. Separately, Australian researchers recently put 50 overweight type 2 diabetics on one of two diet plans-one group ate a daily quarter-cup serving of walnuts; the other group went walnut-free. After a year, the walnut eaters had significantly greater reductions in their fasting insulin levels.
Since a half cup of walnuts a day contains 327 calories, you’ll want to cut an equivalent amount of calories elsewhere in your diet. You can find simple, tasty main-dish walnut recipes online. Not so incidentally, walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, are proven to lower cholesterol, and even help prevent and control high blood pressure.
Go wild with freshly ground flaxseeds.
Its toasty, nutty flavor enhances almost everything you sprinkle it on. Not only does it contain a healthy dose of fiber, it also contains omega-3 fats that help maintain flexible cell membranes. This is critical for people with diabetes, because flexible cell membranes respond to insulin and absorb glucose better. As a result, studies find that flaxseeds may help lower elevated blood sugar. Sprinkle freshly ground flaxseeds over your salad, yogurt, and cereal, for starters. You can also mix it into meatloaf or stir it into pancake and muffin batter.