- Vegetables contain an array of vitamins and other nutrients and many don’t cause blood glucose to rise.
- Eating a diet with a lot of vegetables helps to control BG levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
- The carbohydrate content of vegetables varies a lot, so it’s best to become familiar with the ones you eat.
- There are lots of great vegetables available from farmer’s markets and supermarkets. Fresh local vegetables are always better even if they are a little more expensive.
- Check the carb count of the vegetables you plan to use as starchy vegetables like potatoes, parsnip and butternut squash need to be counted if you are taking insulin.
- Vegetables are an absolute ideal food for BG levels and can be eaten raw and cooked to make numerous healthy dishes.
Qty: 1 medium
Potato – boiled
- Butternut squash is technically a fruit, but it is usually used as a vegetable. It is high in fibre and releases its energy slowly. It contains fat soluble antioxidants, which protect the body from cell damage and inflammation. Beta-carotene in squash can boost the immune system and lower the risk of heart disease, which is great for everyone but for diabetics in particular due to their increased risk of heart disease.
- Squash also contains high levels of vitamin A which is an essential vitamin for eye health, which is a particular concern for diabetics.
- I use butternut squash a lot in the winter months in stews and soups. Remember that starchy vegetables like squash must be included for carb counting for insulin.
- Mushrooms can help to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and improve levels of the good (HDL) cholesterol. They also help to keep the immune system in a healthy condition and promotes cardiovascular and liver health.
- Mushrooms add great flavor to many dishes. They are low carb and there are lots of varieties available.
- Onions are a rich source of chromium, which may prevent insulin resistance, which leads to poor BG control and may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Onions, particularly red onions are rich in flavonoids, which promote cardiovascular health because of their effect on the inner walls of blood vessels. They can help to prevent heart disease by reducing inflammatory damage.
- There are numerous types of onion available and each give a slightly different flavour to a meal
Peppers – red, yellow, orange & green
- Peppers contain vitamin A, C, potassium and fibre. Red peppers contain the most nutrition because they have had longer on the vine, but green are still worth using. Green peppers are the first to be harvested and red are the last.
- Red peppers contain flavonoids, which have a very powerful antioxidant property. Peppers contain a large amount of beta carotene which provide vitamin A. Beta carotene is also a fat soluble antioxidant, which protects the body from cell damage and inflammation.
- Peppers contain carotenoids which can have an anti-inflammatory affect and is particularly beneficial for the skin. That’s good for everyone but especially people with diabetes whose healing power may be compromised. Hopefully they might help to keep wrinkles at bay too!!
- There’s a big difference in the rate in which carbs are absorbed, depending on the food and how its cooked. Some will release the carbohydrate immediately due to their high GI (glycaemic index) rate and others will have a much slower balanced release of energy, due to their low GI. Potatoes are a good example. Due to their fairly high GI rating, the carbs in potato are quickly converted to glucose when they are digested.
- 100g of potato has about 17g of carbohydrate, which is released fairly quickly into the blood stream. If the potato is served with food that contains protein, fat or fibre it slows down the release of the energy release rate. To add to the confusion, different types of potato have slightly different carbohydrate and GI ratings as well! New potatoes have slightly lower carbohydrate than old potatoes. The carbohydrates in mashed potato are absorbed much quicker than a boiled potato.
- So, while potato is fat, salt and cholesterol free, contain vitamins and is not very high in calories, they shouldn’t be eaten in large quantities if you want to keep BG levels stable. There is no need to banish them completely though! Potato is fine as part of a healthy diet. If a large portion is eaten it is best to reduce the amount of carbohydrate foods eaten for the rest of the day, to reduce the risk of elevated BG level.
- Over the years, many of my insulin dose errors were in relation to potato. I would have given the same amount of insulin for boiled and mashed potato. I would have had a high BG level several hours later, as a result of giving too little insulin for mashed potato, but would have been looking for other causes.
- I would have given extra insulin for rich garlic potatoes and ended up with a low BG (hypo) later in the day. In fact, I should have given a little less insulin, because the fat in the cream (and cheese if used) slows down the rate that the potato releases its energy into the blood stream. Again I would have been looking elsewhere for a cause of the low BG. There was little in the way of information on how foods work with insulin but now there is so much information it can be confusing.
- Sweet potato has about 22g of carb per 100g but has a lower GI rating and a higher fibre content than regular potato so releases its energy in a more balanced way. They are a source of vitamin C, B6, D, magnesium, potassium and iron. These vitamins and minerals promote a healthy blood, heart and immune system and help with wound healing.
- They are a good substitute for regular potato, bread, pasta and rice. They are sweet tasting and can be used for sweet and savoury dishes.
- Chilli peppers are great for adding flavour to many dishes, including sweet dishes. They contain vitamins A and C, potassium and they can have antibacterial effect, reduce LDL cholesterol levels and help keep blood pressure stable.
- There are many types of chilli available from the mild to the very hot. They can be used to liven up many recipes without adding too much heat, calories or carbohydrates.
- Garlic produces a chemical called Allicin, which give garlic its anti-bacterial properties. Garlic can help the body convert bad cholesterol (LDL) into good cholesterol (HDL).
- Garlic can be added to salads and most savoury meals. Because of its anti-bacterial effects, it is beneficial in hot drinks for colds and flu.
- Avocado contains a fatty acid called oleic acid and vitamin E, which lowers bad cholesterol (LDL), and increases good cholesterol (HDL).
- I find avocado excellent for my BG control because they are a healthy fat which helps to slow down the rate of absorption of any other foods eaten at the same time.
- Avocado is best eaten immediately once opened, but a squeeze of lemon or lime juice will help prevent them discolouring too quickly. If you need to keep half an avocado, leave the skin on that half and leave the stone in it and store in an airtight container or cling film.
- Beetroot contains nitrites which relax blood vessel walls and can lower blood pressure. A reduction in blood pressure is beneficial for the avoidance of heart disease and stroke and particularly important for diabetics due to their increased risk of heart disease.
- Beetroots also contain potassium, magnesium and soluble fibre.
- Beetroot can be eaten hot as a vegetable or cold in salads. Young beetroot can be eaten raw in salads.