Monday, May 6, 2013

Health Benefits and Nutrient Content of Fruits

Fruits such as lemons, limes, and grapefruit are very beneficial to diabetics because they alkalize the body and reduce the acidity from the excess sugar, and they contain a lot less sugar than other fruits. These tart fruits contain Vitamin C, bioflavonoids, water, and other phytonutrients that help to maintain the body’s defenses, and provide cholesterol-lowering and anti-cancer benefits. 

For example, lemons contain high levels of Vitamin C and limonoid/limonene phytonutrients that help to lower cholesterol levels and provide anti-cancer benefits. Lemon is also very effective for strengthening the gums and teeth, and preventing and curing acute inflammations of the gum margins, pyorrhea, and other oral diseases. 

Since these phytonutrients are found in the whole lemon, pith and peel included, it is best to make use of the whole lemon. Though the lemon juice is sour in taste, its reaction in the body is alkaline and as such it is valuable in the treatment of gout, rheumatism, sciatica, lumbago, and the pain in hip joints, which result from too much acid in the body. A sufficient intake of lemon juice prevents the deposit of uric acid in the tissues and thus reduces the possibility of an attack of gout.

Grapefruit contains the flavonoid narigenin, which is believed to reduce the risk of some cancers. Grapefruit can improve blood circulation and lower blood cholesterol levels. Research has shown that grapefruit seed extract (rich in citrus bioflavonoids) is effective against some intestinal pathogens such as Candida albicans and other candida species (fungi), some E. coli (bacteria) species and Staphylococcus aureus (bacteria).

Grapefruit is effective as part of the natural treatment of constipation, flatulence and abdominal discomfort, as well as for bladder infections, thrush and vaginal candida infection. However, grapefruit juice increases the availability of some drugs in the body, causing potentially dangerous side effects.

These included heart rhythm disturbances, impaired kidney function, blood pressure changes and anemia. So, if you are taking any drugs, always consult with your doctor before eating grapefruit.
 
Fruits such as a├žai berries, blackberries, blueberries, pomegranates, apples, grapes, cherries, plums and other berries contain Vitamin C, bioflavonoids, carotenoids and other phytonutrients that strengthen the immune system, prevent inflammation and provide protection from some cancers and cardiovascular disease. 

For example, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, walnuts, pecans, pomegranates, and other plant foods contain ellagic acid. Ellagic acid may inhibit the growth of tumors caused by certain carcinogens by triggering apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells, preventing the binding of carcinogens to DNA, and strengthening connective tissue, which may keep cancer cells from spreading.
 
Some fruits such as grapefruit, apples, and oranges contain calcium d-glucarate, a botanical extract that appears to protect against cancer and other diseases via a different mechanism than antioxidants such as Vitamin C and the carotenoids. These vitamin antioxidants work by neutralizing toxic free radical damage in the body. However, calcium d-glucarate works by using a detoxification process to combine toxins or carcinogens with water-soluble substances and removing them from the body.  Early animal studies indicate that calcium d-glucarate may inhibit the production of the bad estrogen associated with prostate and breast cancers.

Avocado is an excellent fruit for diabetics because it contains monounsaturated fat, magnesium, potassium, folate, antioxidants such as Vitamin E, and fiber, which helps to remove cholesterol from the blood and improve bowel regularity and the health of the colon.

Fruits such as apples, berries, cherries, grapefruit, and pears contain fiber to help slow down the absorption of the sugar.

In addition to the high levels of fiber, these fruits contain water, antioxidants, protein, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and specific saccharides that help nourish, protect and cleanse the body; and, support cell-to-cell communications. 

Specifically, fruits contain pigment-related phytonutrients called polyphenols, flavonoids and carotenoids that promote cardiovascular health. Polyphenols are in the deeper-colored plant foods such as blueberries, strawberries, grapes, and green tea. Flavonoids can be found in blueberries, cranberries and currants. Carotenoids can be found in orange and yellow foods such as cantaloupe and mangos.

Some of these specific phytonutrients include the following:
  • Lycopene carotenoid (in red foods such as tomatoes and watermelon)
  • Anthocyanins (in blue and purple foods such as blueberries, grapes, plums, and cherries)
  • Allicin (in white foods such as bananas and white fleshed, peaches and nectarines)
  • Alpha/beta carotene (in orange foods such as apricots and mangoes)
  • Beta-cryptoxanthin carotenoid (in orange-yellow foods such as oranges and tangerines)
  • Hesperetin flavonoid (in citrus fruits such as grapefruit, lemons and oranges)
  • Lutein carotenoid (in yellow-green foods such as avocados)
  • Quercetin flavonoid (in blueberries, elderberries and raisins)
  • The polyphenols ellagic acid and tannins in pomegranates, cranberries and blueberries.
Fruits also contain Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, folic acid, and enzymes that are beneficial to diabetics. These nutrients help to prevent inflammation and fight diseases such as cancer and heart disease by preventing/killing cancer cells, breaking down homocysteine to prevent plaque buildup, and relaxing the artery walls to prevent high blood pressure. Fruits contain soluble fiber, which has a lowering effect on blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

Fruits such as apricots and apples contain organic acids that act primarily as antioxidants, cancer preventives, liver protectors and inflammatory mediators. The acids include tartaric in apricots and apples; salicylic in spearmint; and tannic in nettles, tea and berries.

Health Benefits and Nutrient Content of Vegetables

Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, string beans, and celery contain fiber which slows down their absorption helping to delay the emptying of the stomach and thereby smoothing out the absorption of sugars into the blood.

In addition to the high levels of fiber, these vegetables contain water, antioxidants, protein, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and specific saccharides that help nourish, protect and cleanse the body; and, support cell-to-cell communications. 

Specifically, vegetables contain pigment-related phytonutrients called polyphenols, flavonoids and carotenoids that promote cardiovascular health. 

Polyphenols are in the deeper-colored plant foods such as blueberries, strawberries, grapes, and green tea. 

Flavonoids can be found in teas and olives. Carotenoids can be found in orange and yellow foods such as cantaloupe, carrots and sweet potatoes.

Some of these specific phytonutrients include the following:
  • Neoxanthin carotenoid and chlorophyll (in green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, collards and kale)
  • Lycopene carotenoid (in red foods such as tomatoes)
  • Anthocyanins (in purple foods such as beets)
  • Allicin (in white foods such as garlic, mushrooms, onions)
  • Capsanthin carotenoid (in red foods such as paprika, red bell peppers, and red chili peppers)
  • Alpha/beta carotene (in orange foods such as pumpkin)
  • Indole glucosinolate (in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussel sprouts)
  • Lutein carotenoid (in yellow-green foods such as kale, spinach, parsley, peas, carrots and squash)
  • Quercetin flavonoid (in onions)
  • The polyphenols ellagic acid and tannins in green tea.
It is well known that the chlorophyll in wheat grass and vegetables detoxifies carcinogens found in cooked muscle meats or barbecued foods. Chlorophyll has also been recognized for its anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, and antioxidant properties. Chlorophyll has been cited as strengthening the immune response; therapeutic for inflammation of the ear and the mucous membrane of the nose and sinuses; supportive of normal kidney function; accelerating wound and ulcer healing; and reducing fecal, urinary and body odor in geriatric patients. This makes chlorophyll very beneficial to diabetics.

Vegetables also contain Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, folic acid, and enzymes that are beneficial to diabetics. These nutrients help to prevent inflammation and fight diseases such as cancer and heart disease by preventing/killing cancer cells, breaking down homocysteine to prevent plaque buildup, and relaxing the artery walls to prevent high blood pressure. Vegetables contain soluble fiber, which has a lowering effect on blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

Vegetables such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale of the cruciferous (cabbage) family contain Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and Diindolylmethane (DIM), phytonutrients that have been found to provide protection from certain cancers. 

Indole-3-carbinol is a member of the class of sulfur-containing chemicals called glucosinolates that is formed from parent compounds whenever cruciferous vegetables are crushed or cooked. Indole-3-carbinol and other glucosinolates (e.g. sulforaphane) are antioxidants and potent stimulators of natural detoxifying enzymes in the body. Indole-3-carbinol and other glucosinolates are believed to be responsible for the lowered risk of cancer by increasing the conversion of the bad estrogen (estradiol) to a weaker estrogen (estrone), protecting against breast and prostate cancers.

Diindolylmethane (DIM) improves the breakdown and synthesis of substances in the body by improving the balance of testosterone and estrogen (estradiol). One of the many glucosinolates, sulforaphane, found in broccoli, protects the body against colon cancer. Interestingly, the bioavailability of indoles is increased by light cooking (e.g. steaming).

Vegetables such as garlic, onion, leek, asparagus, shallots, chive and scallions are members of the allium family that contain thiosulfonates, which are known to promote a more favorable HDL-LDL ratio, less inflammation, lower blood pressure and increase immunity. But they have also been found to provide protection from certain cancers. Like their cruciferous cousins, when thiosulfonates are cut or smashed, the sulfur compounds release biotransformation products, including allicin, ajoene, allylic sulfides, vinyl dithin and D-allyl mercaptocysteine.

Some of these are considered anti-atherosclerotic, antioxidant, or anti-cancer agents, while others are antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and an inhibitor of platelet aggregation. As a result, all of these foods are very beneficial to diabetics.

Vegetables such as spinach and rhubarb contain organic acids that act primarily as antioxidants, cancer preventives, liver protectors and inflammatory mediators. The acids include oxalic in spinach, rhubarb, tea and coffee; cinnamic in aloe and cinnamon; caffeic in burdock and hawthorn; ferulic in oats and rice; gallic in tea, coumaric in turmeric; salicylic in spearmint; and tannic in nettles, tea and berries.

Best Fruits for Diabetics

A small piece of fruit or 0.5 cup of cut or frozen fruit contain about 10-15 grams of carb. Only 2 tablespoons of dried fruit (raisins or cranberries for instance) contain 15 grams of carb. It is recommended to eat the fruit fresh and not in chewy fruit rolls which eliminated the water and leave only the sugary substance. 

Frozen fruit or fruit that are canned in fruit juice are allowed, not those in heavy syrup. Use no-sugar-added apple sauce and sugar free jams. Avoid fruit “drinks” because they are high in corn syrup. The best fruit are those that are low on the Glycemic Index.

3 ounces of these fruits contain 10g of carbs:

  • Apple
  • Blackcurrants
  • Blueberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Pears
  • Strawberries
  • Guava
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi
  • Figs
  • Watermelon – even though it has some carbs, watermelon is full with water as well which offsets the higher Glycemic index.
Apples: Apples are low on the glycemic index with a rating of 38. They are high in fiber and contain vitamin C and many antioxidants, which are good for heart health.

Apricots: Dried apricots have a glycemic index of 31 and are a good source of vitamins A and C.

Berries and Cherries: Cherries have one of the lowest glycemic index ratings of all fruits at 22. Strawberries and raspberries have a rating of 32 and contain fiber and essential vitamins. Berries are a diabetes superfood because they're packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber and are low-carb. Three quarters of a cup of fresh blueberries have 62 calories and 16 grams of carbohydrates. If you can resist the urge to just pop them in your mouth, try berries in a parfait, alternating layers of fruit with plain non-fat yogurt — it makes a great dessert or snack.

Blackberries. There are 15 g of carb in 3/4 cup. Blackberries are full of antioxidants that studies have may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. They may also help prevent diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  

Blueberries. There are 15 g of carb in 3/4 cup. Blueberries have the most antioxidants that fight free radicals. They are also sometimes called "brain food" and may help prevent Alzheimer's disease. Blueberries contain flavonoids that benefit your immune system, lower inflammation, and may help decrease LDL or bad cholesterol.
Cherries. Tart cherries have one of the lowest ratings on the glycemic index of any fruit at 22. Cherries contain antioxidants, beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate. Cherries also contain anthocyanins, the naturally occurring chemicals that are responsible for the deep red color of the fruit. Anthocyanins help lower blood sugar levels by increasing insulin production by up to 50%.

Citrus Fruits: Grapefruit, oranges and lemons are low on the glycemic index and contribute soluble fiber and vitamin C to your diet.

Cranberries. There are 15 g of carb in one cup. Cranberries are known for possibly helping with urinary tract infections and may also offer protection from heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Studies have shown that cranberries may help lower LDL or bad cholesterol and raise HDL or good cholesterol levels.

Grapefruit. Grapefruit is high in soluble fiber and vitamin C. With a rating of 25, it is low on the glycemic index. Grapefruit contains the flavonoid naringenin which aids in balancing insulin and glucose levels in the blood. Studies have shown that eating one to two servings of grapefruit a day reduces the risk of developing Type II diabetes later in life.

Jambul Fruit. Indigenous to India, jambul fruit are not readily known or available in the U.S. Jambul fruit help to control the conversion of carbohydrates in the pancreas into blood sugar. The bark, leaves and flowers of the jambul plant can also be used to manage blood sugar levels. The excessive thirst and frequent urination suffered by many diabetics can be controlled by jambul fruit. Its seeds contain glucoside, jamboline and ellagic acid which reduces the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar.

Lemons. Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C and a variety of phytochemicals, including
hesperetin, naringin, and naringenin. Although the lemon is often thought of as acidic, it is very effective in curing many digestion problems when mixed with hot water, including biliousness, nausea, heartburn, disorders of the lower intestines like constipation and worm infestations. Lemon juice, when taken regularly in the morning, acts as a tonic to the liver and stimulates it to produce bile making it ready to digest the day's food. It is also thought to help dissolve gallstones. Because of its high vitamin C content, it is thought to help prevent and treat many infections, hasten wound healing and temper down high fever. Lemon is also a diuretic, which means it is good for people with urinary tract infections and high uric acid problems, such as those with arthritis or rheumatism because it helps flush out all the toxins and bad bacteria.

Limes. Limes, similar to lemons, are an excellent source of vitamin C and a variety of phytochemicals. Limes aid the healing of wounds and prevent damage to the eyes. They are also helpful in maintaining the health of the teeth and other bones of the body; and, prevents decay and loosening of the teeth, dental caries, toothache, bleeding of the gums and fragility of bones.
Kiwi. Kiwi fruits are the unsung superfruit. They help prevent asthma, obesity, colon cancer, heart disease and protect our DNA from mutations. Kiwi fruit contain vitamin C, E and A, flavonoids and numerous minerals. In fact, kiwi fruit contain more vitamin C than oranges, as much potassium as bananas and high amounts of beta carotene. The vitamins in kiwi fruit offer protection from free radicals improving overall health. Kiwi fruit is high in fiber which aids in controlling blood sugar levels and lowering cholesterol.

Oranges. Oranges have a rating of 48 on the glycemic index. The high fiber and vitamin C content of oranges helps control blood sugar levels. Oranges, like all citrus fruits, contain naringenin which aids in balancing insulin and glucose levels in the blood. Oranges are low in fat and can help in weight management. Being overweight is one of the risk factors for diabetes.

Peaches. Peaches are a warm-weather treat and can be included in your low-carb diabetic diet. Peaches contain vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber. Peaches are delicious on their own or tossed into iced tea for a fruity twist. When you want a snack, whip up a quick smoothie by pureeing peach slices with low-fat buttermilk, crushed ice, and a touch of cinnamon or ginger.

Pears: Pears are high in fiber and have a low glycemic index rating of 38. They are also a good source of vitamin C and the essential mineral copper. Pears contain vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, folic acid, niacin, copper, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium. Chinese pears have the most medicinal properties, but all pears help diabetics improve blood sugar levels. Pears help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, boost the immune system, and have antioxidant properties.

Pomegranates. They may be messy to eat but the nutrients in them make it worthwhile. Pomegranates contain one of the richest combinations of antioxidants of all fruits and vegetables! These can protect you from free radicals and chronic diseases.
Note: Pomegranate fruit juice is wildly available but generally, comes concentrated. DO NOT BE TEMPTED. Concentrates are a diabetics worst nightmare!

Prunes. Prunes, with a glycemic index rating of 29, vitamin A, fiber, potassium, copper and antioxidants is a great choice for diabetics. The soluble fiber in prunes help normalize blood sugar levels. It does this by slowing the rate digested food leaves the stomach, thereby delaying the absorption of glucose. Prunes also help with weight loss by promoting a sense of fullness by allowing food to remain in the stomach longer, helping to prevent overeating.

Raspberries. There are 15 g of carb in one cup. Of all the berries on this list, raspberries offer the most fiber, and black raspberries are the highest on the list for cancer prevention.

Strawberries. There are 15 g of carb in 1-1/4 cup. Strawberries are lower in calories and have three times more vitamin C than the other berries on this list. One cup of strawberries has almost as much vitamin C as a cup of orange juice. They also contain folic acid, which helps prevent birth defects, heart disease, and cancer.

Fruits to Avoid or Eat in Limited Amounts:

Some fruits should be carefully eaten although they are high in nutritional value. The sugar content in these is abnormally high and can make it difficult to manage diabetes. Eat them in small portions only.

  • Mango
  • Banana
  • Grapes
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
Snack Planning Tip: When you eat any piece of fruit, eat it with a handful of walnuts and/or almonds. Why? The walnuts and almonds contain Omega-3 fats and plant fiber that help to slow down your body's absorption of the sugar from the fruit.

Key Point: So if you have diabetes, it is not necessary to avoid fruits completely. However, make sure that you eat them whole -- do not juice the fruit (which removes the fiber)! Fruits are high in fiber, full of nutrients and they are loaded with antioxidants that help protect the nerves, the eyes and the heart from free radicals. Many nutrients are found in the skin of the fruit and in the flesh and seeds so you lose a lot by juicing. Save the juicing for the vegetables.

Best Vegetables for Reversing Diabetes

Vegetables add bright colors, flavors and textures to your diet. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, water, dietary fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants and contribute to a healthy diet. Vegetables are generally low in calories and carbohydrates, making them an excellent option for diabetics.

Vegetables fall into two groups: starchy and non-starchy. Starchy vegetables (i.e. potatoes) are higher in carbohydrates and raise blood glucose levels more easily. Non-starchy vegetables (i.e. broccoli) are the best choice for a diabetic meal plan.

Dark Leafy Greens. Rich in calcium, vitamins A, B, C and K, magnesium, iron, protein, potassium and dietary fiber, dark leafy greens are perfect for a diabetic diet. Leafy greens include spinach, kale, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, arugula, mustard or collard greens, romaine lettuce and chard. Each of these vegetables contains approximately 5 g of carbohydrates per serving, with a serving equal to 1 cup raw or a ½ cup cooked vegetables. Eating a mixed green salad before or with your meal is a good way to incorporate leafy greens into your diabetic meal plan.

Allium. Although not brightly colored, members of the allium family are pungent and flavorful. Garlic, onion, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots are allium vegetables known for their antibacterial properties. Containing only 5 g of carbohydrates per serving, these vegetables reduce inflammation, boost immunity and fight off disease. Allium vegetables are best used to add flavor to other foods when cooking.

Bell Peppers. Bell peppers are available in a rainbow of colors, including yellow, red, orange, green and purple. Containing only 3 g of carbohydrates per ½ cup serving, peppers are sweet, juicy and bursting with flavor. Bell peppers are packed with vitamin A and C, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and dietary fiber. Add them to a stir fry, flavor your favorite food with them, grill for a colorful side dish or simply munch on crisp peppers for a low-carb snack.

Cruciferous Vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables contain sulfur compounds that make them pungent and bitter. Sulfur compounds confer potential carcinogen-fighting effects in the body. Cruciferous vegetables include red or green cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke and Brussels sprouts. Cruciferous vegetables provide 5 g of carbohydrates per serving and are rich sources of vitamin C and K, iron, potassium, folate, calcium, dietary fiber and phytochemicals. Eat them raw or lightly steamed.

Carrots. Rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, vitamin A, B, C and K, magnesium, folate, and dietary fiber, carrots are bright in color and provide a sweet taste. Carrots are a good choice if you have diabetes as their carotenoid and vitamin A content helps protect your eyes from diabetic retinopathy or damage to the blood vessels in the eye from long-term diabetes. Carrots are a great low-carb, crunchy snack.

Tomato. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a potent antioxidant known to help fight disease. Tomatoes are also rich in potassium, phosphorus, calcium, vitamin A, C and K, folate and dietary fiber. A ½ cup serving of tomatoes is equivalent to 4 g of carbohydrates. Eat them raw, pureed, stewed, juiced or in a sauce; all tomato-based products are low in carbohydrates. When purchasing tomato-based products, be sure to choose "no sugar added" or "low sodium" varieties.

Squash. Squash contains vitamin A, B and C, iron, calcium, dietary fiber, potassium and magnesium. While some varieties of winter squash tend to be higher in carbohydrates, summer squash and zucchini contain just 5 g of carbohydrates per serving. Add color to your stir fry, steam or grill for a low-carb side dish.

Meal Preparation
The vegetables should be eaten fresh, lightly steamed, roasted or grilled.

Avoid canned vegetables because they contain large amounts of sodium. Opt for the frozen vegetables instead.

Avoid boiling the vegetables! Avoid cooking the vegetables with added butter, cheese or sauce. Pickles and sauerkraut are ok only if you do not have high blood pressure.

Usually non starchy vegetables contain about 5 grams of carbs in 0.5 cup cooked or 2 cups raw vegetables. Most of the vegetables in the list below are full of fiber so unless you eat more than 1 cup at a time you may not need to count the carbs at all.

The best vegetables for diabetes:

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Bean sprouts
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Greens (collard, kale, mustard and turnip)
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Water cress
  • Spinach
  • Turnip
  • Mushrooms
  • Celery
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Chilies
And all other green leafy vegetables that are not on the list. When consuming vegetables high in sugars like beets, carbs should be counted.

Vegetables to avoid or eat in small quantities:

  • Beets
  • Corn
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Tapioca