Diabetes experts have long suspected that one important step in diabetes prevention and management is replacing refined, simple sugars in the diet with more complex sources of whole grains. A recent study supports this theory.
Research involving almost 200,000 men and women showed that eating brown rice can reduce the chances of developing diabetes by 16 percent, and other whole grains can reduce the chances even further.
Another recent study found that a breakfast rich in low-GI foods, such as rolled oats and brown rice, can work to prevent blood sugar spikes throughout the day in people already diagnosed with the condition. That's because whole grains are good sources of fiber, which can help slow the absorption of glucose into the blood. Plus, they're packed with vitamins and minerals, making them a better choice than refined carbohydrates for people with type 2 diabetes.
Researchers showed that eating five or more servings of white rice each week led to an increased risk of diabetes. Conversely, consuming just two servings of brown rice each week led to a lower risk. And it's as easy as it sounds: These data indicated that replacing roughly one-third of a daily serving of white rice with brown rice would lead to a 16 percent reduction in overall type 2 diabetes risk.
Diabetes experts speculate that other whole grains such as bulgur wheat could play a similar role in the diabetes diet when eaten in place of simple, refined carbohydrates. In fact, the researchers theorized that replacing white rice with whole grains could possibly lower the risk of diabetes by as much as 36 percent.
Oats are a popular whole-grain choice for the diabetic diet because they're easy to include in your breakfast routine. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a half-cup of cooked oatmeal in the morning counts as the equivalent of a one-ounce serving of whole grains. Many experts suggest buying steel-cut oats, which leave more of the whole grains intact.
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 the diabetic diet. One of the most important qualities of soluble fiber is its ability to help regulate blood glucose levels. It slows the rate at which glucose is metabolized and absorbed from the intestine.
You may not have heard of millet, although you've probably seen it as the main ingredient in birdseed. But it's not just for the birds; when cooked, this tiny grain is good for people, too. Whole grains such as millet help because they provide fiber and with little to no fat, these foods are heart-smart.
Quinoa is another versatile food recommended by nutritionists as a delicious side dish and that may be new to your menu. Although quinoa is commonly thought of as a whole grain, it's actually a highly nutritious seed that is high in protein and fiber. In addition to slowing down the rise of blood glucose how fiber from quinoa and whole grains can help in one other way. Soluble fiber adds bulk to your diet, so it helps you feel full and more satisfied. You are less likely to overeat. And appetite control is important to keep you on calorie-conscious diabetes diet.
Wheat berries are actually just whole, unprocessed kernels of wheat, and they round out the list of tasty whole grains nutritionists recommend for people on a diabetes diet. You can make all kinds of dishes with this versatile grain; cook them as a side dish, serve them for breakfast as you would oatmeal and top with a sprinkling of nuts and berries, or toss them into your salads for a nutty accent.