Natural Foods That Can Fight Off Diabetes

Fact checked by Victor Cheung

We have listed 15 natural foods that fight off diabetes. To date, the number of diabetic patients is too large to fathom. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, there are about 422 million cases worldwide.1

As common as diabetes may be, there are increasing efforts from the government, big pharmaceutical companies, and medical institutions to raise awareness about the disease, the best way to prevent and provide guidelines for living with it which also include 15 natural foods that can fight off diabetes.

The simplest way to describe Diabetes is the body’s inability to regulate blood glucose levels due to several factors.

In this article, we’ve compiled all you need to know about the signs and symptoms of diabetes and how you can implement changes to your day-to-day practices —especially your diet— to fight it off.

Nonetheless, make sure to consult your doctor or dietitian before making any major changes to avoid any unforeseen drawbacks.

First Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus

There are some signs and symptoms that say you’ve got diabetes and so you should be on the lookout for those:2

  • Thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Hunger
  • Slowly healing wounds
  • Frequent infections

If you suspect you’ve got these, then you should follow up with your doctor to provide you with the best treatment plan that fits your case.

While some patients may need insulin injections and pharmacological interventions, almost all patients can benefit from lifestyle changes and modifying their eating habits.

Diabetes-Friendly 15 Natural Foods That Fight Off Diabetes

Scientific evidence about nutrition and diabetes management is prevalent in much of the literature.

Research has not only proven the validity of diet changes in managing diabetes but in preventing it as well.3–6

Taking this into consideration, there have been many guideline recommendations for consuming several foods that can help in managing diabetes just by eating them.

Thus, one of the first things you can do after your diagnosis with diabetes mellitus is to improve your diet, so here are some of our recommendations for the best diabetes superfoods —you should keep handy in your kitchen—as well as incorporate into your diet to win in the fight against diabetes:7

Natural foods that fight off diabetes https://food-med.com/

1. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables Are Low In Calories

Kale, Spinach, Cabbage, Broccoli, etc., are all types of dark green leafy vegetables that are low in calories and high in carbohydrates. By adding them into your meals you’re helping your body to regulate its sugar levels. Additionally, they also contain magnesium which helps insulin perform its function.

2. Fatty Fish To Fight Off Diabetes

With its high Omega-3 and protein content. It’s hard not to mention the benefits of fatty fish like salmon, canned tuna, mackerel, etc., in the diabetes-friendly diet.8

In addition, diabetics usually suffer from low vitamin D, which as it happens is in loads in fatty fish.

Thus, we recommend fatty fish as one of the 15 natural foods that fight off diabetes and a must when it comes to starting a healthy diet for diabetic patients.

The only thing to look out for when shopping for fatty fish is to keep an eye on fish that may be contaminated with mercury as it can be poisonous, these are:

  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Marlin
  • Fresh tuna

3. Reishi Mushroom (Lingzhi Mushroom) For Diabetes Treatment

There have been several studies that advocate for the use of the Reishi mushroom for diabetes, owing to its rich nutritional profile and other health benefits.

Scientists believe that its antidiabetic function goes back to a molecule it produces known as proteoglycan. This was evident in research done on lab mice and humans.9–11

Nuts Contain Healthy fats Which Are Helpful For Diabetes
Nuts Contain Healthy fats Which Are Helpful For Diabetes http://www.food-med.com

4. Nuts Contain Healthy Fats Which Are Helpful For Diabetes

Whether we’re talking about walnuts, almonds, or just plain old peanuts; there is scientific evidence behind their function in managing your blood sugar level.

They’re also contain healthy fats, proteins, and high fiber which are helpful for diabetic patients.

5. Whole Grains Help In Better Management Of Type 2 Diabetes

Recent scientific data showed that higher consumption of total whole grains was significantly linked to better management and prevention of type 2 diabetes. This whole grain can include:13

  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Dark Bread
  • Brown Rice
  • Bran
  • Wheat Germ

While this supports the recommendation of implementing whole grain in the diet, there’s also one point to consider which is that whole grain is also carbohydrates, so the consumption needs to be in moderation.

6. Citrus Fruits Have Polyphenol Which Regulates Blood Glucose Levels

Following the recommendation of the American Diabetes Association, Citrus fruits like:7

  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Limes

Can be just what you need to get your vitamin C, fiber, and minerals like folate and potassium.

They provide anti-diabetic properties due to their polyphenol and flavonoid-rich content which helps with regulating blood glucose levels.14–16

In contrast to that effect, a recent study found that citrus vegetables are more effective in treating diabetes than citrus fruits.15

7. Seeds Have Beneficial Effects In Treating Diabetes

Multiple studies on different seeds have shown that they have beneficial effects when it comes to treating diabetes. This is especially true for pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds. These have shown significant improvements due to their high magnesium content and better glycemic control in both animal and human studies which makes them recommendable as candidates for the diabetes-friendly diet.17,18

8. Avocados Are A Natural Food That Fight Off Diabetes

The thing about avocados is that they have very high fiber content with very low carbohydrate content, which is perfect when you want a healthy snack that will never spike your blood sugar.

As a healthy snack, avocados were tested on diabetic patients and showed favorable outcomes as a good source of fiber and an agent to reduce insulin resistance and increase sensitivity.19 Thus, avocados fall in the list of must have 15 natural foods that fight off diabetes.

The optimal serving for avocados as mentioned by the FDA is one-fifth of the fruit, however, some studies have shown that most people consume around half of it in one sitting.20,21

Chilli Peppers help fight off diabetes
Chilli Peppers Help In Lowering Blood Glucose Levels http://www.food-med.com

9. Chili Peppers Help In Lowering Blood Glucose Levels

If you’re a fan of hot peppers like jalapeno and serrano, you’re in for a treat. According to recent data, consuming hot chili peppers in moderation can just do the trick in lowering your blood glucose levels and increasing insulin sensitivity.22,23

10. Apples Have Low Glycemic Index

Apples have been extensively studied when it comes to their link to diabetes. Here’s what the data suggests:24–27

  • They contain polyphenols which work on decreasing insulin resistance and improving sensitivity
  • They have a low glycemic index
  • Rich in fiber which slows down carbohydrates’ digestion
  • Source of fructose sugar

So, whether you’re eating them alone or mixed in a fruit salad, just make sure to include apples in your diet and reap all the benefits.

11. Green Tea Has Antioxidative Properties To Fight Off Diabetes

Green tea has been proven to prevent the onset of diabetes in multiple studies. One such study was done in Japan revealing that those who drank more than 5 cups of green tea daily were less prone to developing diabetes by 33% than those who didn’t.28

Seventeen analyzed multiple studies proved that green tea had significantly reduced fasting blood glucose levels upon testing.29

Next to its other antioxidative and obesity reduction benefits, the anti-diabetic properties of green tea are an added bonus!

Legumes are the best natural food to fight off diabetes
Legumes are the best food to get rid of diabetes http://www.food-med.com

12. Legumes Are The Best Food To Get Rid Of Diabetes

Legumes are considered one of the best foods to include in your diet if you have diabetes. This is because of its rich texture and low glycemic index.

The reason behind this high consideration is because legumes like beans, lentils, or peas are generally absorbed slowly which means they give gradual increases in the blood sugar supporting its control.

This hypothesis is backed up by a research study done on 3349 participants who added legumes to their diet resulting in diabetes type 2 prevention and management.30 For a healthy diet, it’s recommended to use legumes 2 to 3 times a week.

13. Dark Chocolate Is An Alternative For Sweet Cravings

SURPRISE! I know this one probably seems outrageous. I mean how can chocolate be good for diabetics.31,32

In this case, we’re not talking just about any chocolate. We’re specifically talking about ‘dark chocolate’. The working factor here is flavonoids which work by increasing the sensitivity of insulin and reducing its resistance.

Additionally, flavonoids also decrease the risk for diabetes complications when it comes to associated heart problems.

All these benefits make dark chocolate an excellent candidate for diabetes protection and a very good option for a sweet craving alternative.

14. Olive Oil

A clinical trial including 25 patients who ate two meals prepared with extra virgin oil has produced favorable outcomes in lowering both blood glucose levels and cholesterol.33

Francesco Violo, the leading author of this study also claimed,

“Lowering blood glucose and cholesterol may be useful to reduce the negative effects of glucose and cholesterol on the cardiovascular system”

Nevertheless, the study also showed that just preparing food with olive oil is not enough, to provide the desired effects, olive oil should be a part of a well-balanced diet.

15. Carbon 60 (C60) Have Anti-Diabetic Properties

Last but not least, C60. Even though we know it’s not technically considered food, it does have many potential health applications that are worth looking into.

C60 has some anti-diabetic effects and although all the studies were done on animals not, humans, they still show some interesting results when it comes to managing diabetes complications and hyperglycemic effects.34–36

C60 products that have anti-diabetic and antioxidant properties can be found online through many e-commerce websites.

Over time, we’re confident in the ability of science to confirm its validity as a competent anti-diabetic agent capable of fighting off diabetes.

Cooking Recipes

Eating right and choosing to live healthily doesn’t mean you’ll have to follow a strict boring diet. After all the previously mentioned food options, there’s an all-encompassing room to creatively create tasty meals.

Browse through this catalog and read about previous patient experiences who changed their lives by changing what they eat.

Summary

No doubt living with diabetes can have some mental and physical impact on its patients. Whether it’s the constant monitoring of blood glucose levels or keeping up with medications.

However, it’s crucial to note it’s not the end of the world. Diabetes is very manageable if you’re willing to make the effort.

Choosing to live healthily with regular exercise and planning your meals can prove beneficial even for those who don’t have diabetes.

As Vicki Lea Myhre, the author of A pair of diabetic feet puts it:

Daily cleaning and care help to keep us healthy, strong, and happy. Knowing what to do and what not to do will help to keep us on track.”

So, make sure to try these options out in your next meal under the supervision of your doctor or dietitian, and remember that it’s a process that may need some time to show a favorable outcome.

References

1.        World Health Organization. Diabetes [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2022 May 7]. Available from: https://www.who.int/health-topics/diabetes#tab=tab_1

2.        Diabetes Symptoms | CDC [Internet]. [cited 2022 May 7]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/symptoms.html

3.        Nutrition recommendations and principles for people with diabetes mellitus – ProQuest [Internet]. [cited 2022 May 7]. Available from: https://www.proquest.com/openview/fb943c4fe4285ffc9172e9c3c56605da/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=47715

4.        Association AD. Evidence-Based Nutrition Principles and Recommendations for the Treatment and Prevention of Diabetes and Related Complications. Diabetes Care [Internet]. 2002 Jan 1 [cited 2022 May 7];25(suppl_1):s50–60. Available from: https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/25/suppl_1/s50/23447/Evidence-Based-Nutrition-Principles-and

5.        Dyson PA, Kelly T, Deakin T, Duncan A, Frost G, Harrison Z, et al. Diabetes UK evidence-based nutrition guidelines for the prevention and management of diabetes. Diabetic Medicine [Internet]. 2011 Nov 1 [cited 2022 May 7];28(11):1282–8. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1464-5491.2011.03371.x

6.        Evert AB, Boucher JL, Cypress M, Dunbar SA, Franz MJ, Mayer-Davis EJ, et al. Nutrition Therapy Recommendations for the Management of Adults With Diabetes. Diabetes Care [Internet]. 2014 Jan 1 [cited 2022 May 7];37(Supplement_1):S120–43. Available from: https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/37/Supplement_1/S120/37774/Nutrition-Therapy-Recommendations-for-the

7.        Diabetes Superstar Foods | ADA [Internet]. [cited 2022 May 8]. Available from: https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/recipes-nutrition/eating-well/diabetes-superstar-foods

8.        Fish – Benefits, Recommended Intake & Suitability in Diabetic Diet [Internet]. [cited 2022 May 7]. Available from: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/food/fish.html

9.        Xiao C, Wu QP, Cai W, Tan J bin, Yang XB, Zhang JM. Hypoglycemic effects of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides in type 2 diabetic mice. Arch Pharm Res [Internet]. 2012 Oct [cited 2022 May 7];35(10):1793–801. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23139131/

10.      Pan D, Zhang D, Wu J, Chen C, Xu Z, Yang H, et al. Antidiabetic, antihyperlipidemic and antioxidant activities of a novel proteoglycan from ganoderma lucidum fruiting bodies on db/db mice and the possible mechanism. PLoS One [Internet]. 2013 Jul 11 [cited 2022 May 7];8(7). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23874589/

11.      Gao Y, Lan J, Dai X, Ye J, Zhou S. A Phase I/II Study of Ling Zhi Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (W.Curt.:Fr.)Lloyd (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Extract in Patients with Type II Diabetes Mellitus. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms [Internet]. 2004 [cited 2022 May 7];6(1):8. Available from: https://www.dl.begellhouse.com/journals/708ae68d64b17c52,0738f8d34e863c74,1629a45749954343.html

12.      Klupp NL, Chang D, Hawke F, Kiat H, Cao H, Grant SJ, et al. Ganoderma lucidum mushroom for the treatment of cardiovascular risk factors. Cochrane Database Syst Rev [Internet]. 2015 Feb 17 [cited 2022 May 7];2015(2). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25686270/

13.      Hu Y, Ding M, Sampson L, Willett WC, Manson JAE, Wang M, et al. Intake of whole grain foods and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective cohort studies. BMJ [Internet]. 2020 Jul 8 [cited 2022 May 8];370. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32641435/

14.      Gandhi GR, Vasconcelos ABS, Wu DT, Li H bin, Antony PJ, Li H, et al. Citrus Flavonoids as Promising Phytochemicals Targeting Diabetes and Related Complications: A Systematic Review of In Vitro and In Vivo Studies. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 Oct 1 [cited 2022 May 8];12(10):1–32. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC7598193/

15.      Jia X, Zhong L, Song Y, Hu Y, Wang G, Sun S. Consumption of citrus and cruciferous vegetables with incident type 2 diabetes mellitus based on a meta-analysis of prospective study. Prim Care Diabetes [Internet]. 2016 Aug 1 [cited 2022 May 8];10(4):272–80. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26778708/

16.      Visvanathan R, Williamson G. Effect of citrus fruit and juice consumption on risk of developing type 2 diabetes: Evidence on polyphenols from epidemiological and intervention studies. Trends in Food Science & Technology. 2021 Sep 1;115:133–46.

17.      Caili F, Huan S, Quanhong L. A review on pharmacological activities and utilization technologies of pumpkin. Plant Foods Hum Nutr [Internet]. 2006 Jun [cited 2022 May 8];61(2):73–80. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16758316/

18.      Rehman A, Saeed A, Kanwal R, Ahmad S, Changazi SH. Therapeutic Effect of Sunflower Seeds and Flax Seeds on Diabetes. Cureus [Internet]. 2021 Aug 17 [cited 2022 May 8];13(8). Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC8445494/

19.      Wien M, Haddad E, Oda K, Sabaté J. A randomized 3×3 crossover study to evaluate the effect of Hass avocado intake on post-ingestive satiety, glucose and insulin levels, and subsequent energy intake in overweight adults. Nutrition Journal [Internet]. 2013 Nov 27 [cited 2022 May 8];12(1):1–9. Available from: https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-12-155

20.      Fulgoni VL, Dreher M, Davenport AJ. Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008. Nutrition Journal [Internet]. 2013 Jan 2 [cited 2022 May 8];12(1):1–6. Available from: https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-12-1

21.      Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition [Internet]. 2013 Jan [cited 2022 May 8];53(7):738. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC3664913/

22.      Lv J, Qi L, Yu C, Yang L, Guo Y, Chen Y, et al. Consumption of spicy foods and total and cause specific mortality: Population based cohort study. BMJ (Online). 2015 Aug 4;351.

23.      Song JX, Ren H, Gao YF, Lee CY, Li SF, Zhang F, et al. Dietary capsaicin improves glucose homeostasis and alters the gut microbiota in obese diabetic ob/ob Mice. Frontiers in Physiology. 2017 Aug 25;8(AUG):602.

24.      Hanhineva K, Törrönen R, Bondia-Pons I, Pekkinen J, Kolehmainen M, Mykkänen H, et al. Impact of Dietary Polyphenols on Carbohydrate Metabolism. International Journal of Molecular Sciences [Internet]. 2010 Apr [cited 2022 May 8];11(4):1365. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC2871121/

25.      Manzano M, Giron MD, Vilchez JD, Sevillano N, El-Azem N, Rueda R, et al. Apple polyphenol extract improves insulin sensitivity in vitro and in vivo in animal models of insulin resistance. Nutrition & Metabolism [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2022 May 8];13(1). Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC4852413/

26.      Boyer J, Liu RH. Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutrition Journal [Internet]. 2004 Dec [cited 2022 May 8];3(1):5. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC442131/

27.      Aryaeian N, Sedehi SK, Arablou T. Polyphenols and their effects on diabetes management: A review. Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2022 May 8];31(1):134. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC6014790/

28.      Kim HM, Kim J. The Effects of Green Tea on Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes & Metabolism Journal [Internet]. 2013 Jun [cited 2022 May 7];37(3):173. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC3689013/

29.      Liu K, Zhou R, Wang B, Chen K, Shi LY, Zhu JD, et al. Effect of green tea on glucose control and insulin sensitivity: a meta-analysis of 17 randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr [Internet]. 2013 Aug 1 [cited 2022 May 7];98(2):340–8. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23803878/

30.      Becerra-Tomás N, Díaz-López A, Rosique-Esteban N, Ros E, Buil-Cosiales P, Corella D, et al. Legume consumption is inversely associated with type 2 diabetes incidence in adults: A prospective assessment from the PREDIMED study. Clin Nutr [Internet]. 2018 Jun 1 [cited 2022 May 8];37(3):906–13. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28392166/

31.      Shah SR, Alweis R, Najim NI, Dharani AM, Jangda MA, Shahid M, et al. Use of dark chocolate for diabetic patients: a review of the literature and current evidence. Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives [Internet]. 2017 Oct 2 [cited 2022 May 7];7(4):218. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC5699188/

32.      Grassi D, Desideri G, Ferri C. Protective effects of dark chocolate on endothelial function and diabetes. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care [Internet]. 2013 Nov [cited 2022 May 7];16(6):662–8. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24100673/

33.      Violi F, Loffredo L, Pignatelli P, Angelico F, Bartimoccia S, Nocella C, et al. Extra virgin olive oil use is associated with improved post-prandial blood glucose and LDL cholesterol in healthy subjects. Nutrition & Diabetes 2015 5:7 [Internet]. 2015 Jul 20 [cited 2022 May 7];5(7):e172–e172. Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/nutd201523

34.      Demir E, Nedzvetsky VS, Ağca CA, Kirici M. Pristine C60 Fullerene Nanoparticles Ameliorate Hyperglycemia-Induced Disturbances via Modulation of Apoptosis and Autophagy Flux. Neurochemical Research [Internet]. 2020 Oct 1 [cited 2022 May 7];45(10):2385–97. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11064-020-03097-w

35.      Demir E, Aslan A. Protective effect of pristine C60 fullerene nanoparticle in combination with curcumin against hyperglycemia-induced kidney damage in diabetes caused by streptozotocin. J Food Biochem [Internet]. 2020 Nov 1 [cited 2022 May 7];44(11). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32914898/

36.      Đurašević S, Nikolić G, Todorović A, Drakulić D, Pejić S, Martinović V, et al. Effects of fullerene C60 supplementation on gut microbiota and glucose and lipid homeostasis in rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2020 Jun 1;140:111302.

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