A study published in April in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that higher consumption of anthocyanin-rich fruits like apples, pears, and blueberries is linked with a 23 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Eat at least five servings a week to reap maximum benefits.
Cheese and Yogurt
People who consumed the most fermented dairy products—things like yogurt, cheese, and fermented milk such as kefir—had a 12 percent reduced risk of diabetes compared to people who ate the least fermented dairy, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers believe the healthy bacteria found in fermented foods may be partly to thank.
Eating cinnamon can lower fasting blood glucose, according to a 2011 review by scientists at UC-Davis. That’s on top of its other benefits: the spice has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and improve insulin sensitivity. Stir a spoonful into your morning coffee, sprinkle some on toast, or add it to your oatmeal.
Your morning cup o’ joe does more than just perk you up: A new report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry finds that the beverage contains compounds that inhibit a hormone that plays a role in diabetes. Past studies have found that those who sip four or more cups of coffee daily have a 50 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
According to a review in the British Medical Journal, those who regularly treated themselves to chocolate had a 31 percent reduced risk of diabetes—not to mention a 37 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a 29 percent reduction in stroke risk—compared with infrequent chocolate eaters. The studies looked at all kinds of chocolate, but for health-boosting effects, the dark stuff’s your best bet. Past research has found dark chocolate can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce both blood pressure and insulin resistance. To get a health boost without the calorie bomb, look for a higher percentage of cacao—the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it contains.
Spinach and Kale
You already know that green leafy vegetables are nutritional powerhouses, but did you know they may slash your diabetes risk? According to a 2010 review in the British Medical Journal found that an increase of only 1.15 servings daily can decrease your risk for diabetes by 14 percent. Swap spinach for lettuce in salads and sandwiches, roast up some kale chips, or add a serving to a smoothie to cram in an extra daily dose of greens.
People who reported eating at least a quarter-ounce of nuts per day had a 5 percent lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome, a combination of risk factors that can lead to type 2 diabetes, found a 2011 study from Louisiana State University. Opt for an ounce a day—about a handful.
You already knew red wine was a surefire health booster, but it may be a powerful diabetes fighter as well. A Polish review of current research finds that resveratrol, the seemingly superpowered compound found in grape skins, can help improve the function of the blood sugar–regulating hormone insulin and reduce blood glucose levels. Most of the resveratrol data are from animal studies, so further research is needed to find out how the compound functions in humans. But researchers agree that moderate consumption of red wine—that’s no more than two glasses daily for men—is good for you. Cheers to that!
British scientists recently found that an extract from the strawberry helps your body activate a protein that decreases blood lipids and LDL cholesterol—both of which can factor into the development of type 2 diabetes. And a preliminary study published in the British Journal of Nutrition earlier this year finds strawberries can help lower blood glucose levels in mice.
Good news for curry lovers: Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, may help delay or prevent the progression of diabetes, finds a new study in the journal Diabetes Care. Researchers looked at 240 people with high blood sugar, but not high enough to warrant a diagnosis of diabetes. Half the group received a 1,500-milligram (mg) pill of curcumin extract daily, while the rest received a placebo. After 9 months, 16.4 percent of the placebo group developed diabetes. And the curcumin group? Not one. More research is needed to determine the long-term effects of curcumin, but these early results are promising. In the meantime, add a hit of turmeric to your sautéed vegetables
No, it’s not a food, but it’s vital to your health. French scientists looked at over 3,000 participants over a period of 9 years and found that those who drank the most water—more than 33 ounces each day—were 21 percent less likely to have high blood sugar than less-frequent sippers. Researchers believe increased levels of vasopressin, the hormone that regulates water levels in your body, may lead to an increase in blood sugar. How? When you don’t drink enough water, your vasopressin levels go up, and past research has found higher vasopressin levels mean higher blood sugar.
A 2011 review article in Diabetes Care supports past evidence that high intake of magnesium can lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, particularly if you’re overweight. The mineral is found in a variety of vegetables and whole grains, but wheat bran is one of the best sources—only ¼ cup will give you 22 percent of your daily magnesium requirements.