Switching from simple carbs to complex carbs can help stabilize your blood sugar, jump-start weight loss, and prevent heart disease.
Scientists have long known that an important step in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes is to replace simple and refined sugars in the diet with more complex sources. One of the main reasons is that complex carbohydrates manage blood sugar better than refined grains. Refined grains, found in foods such as white rice and pasta, tend to cause spikes in blood sugar, or glucose, shortly after a meal and energy slumps later. In contrast, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains (brown rice and whole-wheat pasta) take relatively longer to digest, resulting in a steady release of glucose into the blood.
Why ? Partly because whole grains are good sources of fiber, which helps slow glucose absorption. A simple carbohydrate, that is to say without fiber, will break down very quickly and pass directly into the bloodstream. Fiber takes longer to digest, so it slows the digestion of carbohydrates and gives you better control of your blood sugar throughout the day. Most whole grains have a moderate glycemic load (GL), which measures a food’s impact on raising blood sugar, with a low level being the least likely to cause sudden spikes. A glycemic load of 20 and above is considered high, a glycemic load between 11 and 19 is considered medium, and a glycemic load of 10 or less is considered low.
Whole grains can also help with weight control. Weight management is top of mind for people with type 2 diabetes, as overweight and obesity increase risk and make the disease more difficult to manage. According to a September 2018 review in Nutrients, eating 60–90 grams (g) of whole grains per day (about two or three servings) was associated with a 21–32% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes. , compared to people who never or less frequently ate whole grains.
What’s more, a diet high in fibrous whole grains promotes heart health. According to a meta-analysis published in 2016 in The BMJ, whole grain consumption was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. That’s important because adults with type 2 diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to die of heart disease than adults without diabetes, according to the AHA.
Learn about seven types of whole grains here that may help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes. intestinal problems and always consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.
1 brown rice
A study published in Archives of Internal Medicine showed that eating five or more servings of white rice per week led to an increased risk of diabetes. Conversely, consuming only two servings of brown rice per week results in a decreased risk. And it’s as easy as it sounds: Data indicates that replacing approximately one-third of a daily serving of white rice with brown rice would lead to a 16% reduction in the overall risk of type 1 diabetes. 2.
Brown rice has an average GI of 16. A half-cup serving has 39 g of carbohydrates and is a good source of magnesium, with 60 milligrams (mg) for 14% of the daily value (DV) and 2 mg of niacin for 10% of the DV. Magnesium helps regulate muscle and nerve function, blood pressure and blood sugar, making it a smart choice for people managing diabetes, while niacin is a B vitamin that maintains the nervous system, the system digestive system and healthy skin.
Diabetes experts believe that other whole grains, such as bulgur, may play a similar role in diabetics’ diets when eaten in place of simple, refined carbohydrates. In fact, the researchers behind the Archives of Internal Medicine study hypothesized that replacing white rice with whole grains could reduce the risk of diabetes by 36%. A one-cup serving of cooked bulgur is an excellent source of fiber, with 8.19 g, or 32% of the DV, and contains 33.8 g of carbohydrates. It has an average GI of 12.
Oats are a food rich in fiber, which helps control blood sugar. It’s a popular whole grain choice for people managing diabetes because it’s easy to include in your breakfast routine. One serving has 14g of carbs and about 2.5g of fiber, which is 9% of the DV. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in December 2015 in Nutrients analyzed 14 controlled trials and two observational studies, and the authors concluded that oat consumption significantly reduced A1C levels, glucose levels at fasting and cholesterol in people with diabetes. Oats have an average GI of 13.
By choosing buckwheat flour instead of regular white flour for baking, you can get a big boost to your soluble fiber content, an important consideration in a diabetes diet. One of the most important qualities of soluble fiber is its ability to help regulate blood sugar. It slows down the rate at which glucose is metabolized and absorbed by the intestines. A small study published in December 2016 in Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences found that eating breakfast with buckwheat improved glucose tolerance until lunchtime.
A demitasse of buckwheat flour contains 3 g of fiber for 11% of the DV, 1.44 mg of iron for 8% of the DV and 22 g of carbohydrates. Buckwheat has a medium GI, and a slice of buckwheat bread has a GI of 13.
This ancient grain looks a lot like brown rice and tastes nutty. It can be prepared like a risotto and is easy to add to stews, casseroles and salads. It is rich in nutrients, including fiber, iron, protein and magnesium. Iron promotes growth and development and helps the body make hemoglobin, which supplies oxygen to all parts of the body. A half-cup serving of cooked farro contains 7 g of fiber, or 25% of the daily value, 7 g of protein and 37 g of carbohydrates.
Quinoa, another versatile food. Although quinoa is generally considered a whole grain, it is actually a highly nutritious seed that is high in protein and fiber. A one-cup serving of quinoa contains 39 g of carbohydrates, 5 g of fiber, or 18% of the DV, and 8 g of protein. Quinoa has an average GI of 13. Fiber adds bulk to your diet, which helps you feel fuller and more satisfied. You are less likely to overeat. And appetite control is important so you can follow a calorie-friendly diabetic diet. Try mixing quinoa with rice to get used to its taste.
Fiber is also the main benefit of barley for people with type 2 diabetes. A cup of cooked pearled barley contains 6g of fiber, or about 21% of the daily value, and 44g of carbohydrates. A study involving 20 participants which was published in September 2015 in the British Journal of Nutrition found that eating barley grain bread for three days at breakfast, lunch and dinner led to improvements metabolism, insulin sensitivity and appetite control, as well as decreases in blood sugar and insulin levels. According to the researchers, these effects are due to the fact that the fiber content of barley increases the number of good bacteria in the gut and releases helpful hormones.
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