Individual Foods

Cacao

Raw cacao comes from the beans of a rainforest tree. Chocolate, that much loved favorite, is a byproduct of these beans and combines milk, sugar and additional ingredients along with the cacao beans.

There’s currently quite a bit of heated disagreement on whether raw cacao is healthy or not. Note that several sources state that little solid research is available to substantiate some claims that cacao is unhealthy.

One of these claims states that cacao is dangerously addictive and therefore, harmful to one’s health. Like coffee, cacao is a stimulant and concerns focus on over consumption leading to disturbances in sleep and potential agitation of the kidneys as well as liver damage. Among the more extreme concerns are that cacao in high doses can cause hallucination and at the least alter moods negatively leading to potential paranoia and depression as well as causing rapid heartbeat.

 These arguments seem weak in the face of cacao’s many stated health benefits. Naturally sugar free and unlikely to cause allergic reactions in its’ raw form, cacao offers many health benefits such as being a mood elevator that’s packed with powerful antioxidants offering lowered blood pressure and protection from heart disease and cancer. Cacao also comes with healthy fats and has an ORAC rating of 28,000.

Again, in the face of the potent health benefits of cacao, many of the concerns about its’ unhealthiness appear extreme and even a bit silly. It’s all about maintaining balance in one’s diet as over consumption of many foods could lead to disastrous health effects. As a type 1 diabetic, I was thrilled to discover cacao, eat it several times a week in moderation and have absolutely no intention of giving it up!

References:

 

http://vegetarian.lovetoknow.com/Raw_Cacao_Side_Effects

http://www.rawliving.eu/is-cacao/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/549457-does-raw-cacao-cause-permanent-damage-to-the-liver/

 

Food Facts: Why is Spinach Good for Diabetics?

 

Spinach is one of those foods that “wows”. Ranked high on the list of the world’s healthiest foods, spinach offers particular benefits to the diabetic in terms of blood sugar balancing and reduction of inflammation.

 

While high in a number of nutrients, spinach is notably highest in magnesium and iron both and magnesium improves insulin sensitivity (1). It’s also high in the vitamins and minerals: Vitamin B2, B6, Vitamins K, A and E. Spinach is also rich in Folate, Calcium, Potassium, Manganese and Copper. Although not a fatty food, spinach is also a source of the good Omega 3 fatty acids.

 

As an anti-inflammatory, spinach contains carotenoids (a category of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients) and flavonoids (also phytonutrients) that are known to be powerful antioxidants also with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits. The anti-inflammatory characteristics of spinach are especially notable within the digestive tract.

For those diabetics with digestive issues, spinach offers some true benefits.

 

Spinach is also listed as the number one source of chlorophyll from the world’s healthiest foods. While the definition of chlorophyll states that it’s the green pigment in green vegetables, chlorophyll offers significant health benefits and is considered a superfood. Chlorophyll deserves a research page of it’s own but for our purposes here regarding spinach, know that chlorophyll helps to eliminate free radicals by protecting our cells from oxidative damage. Chlorophyll has been shown in research studies to play an effective role in reducing Candida overgrowth as well.

 

Nutritional information for 1 cup of cooked spinach is as follows: Serving size: (1) cup, cooked, Calories=41.40, Fat=.47gr, Carbs=6.75gr, Fiber=4.32gr, Net Carbs=2.43gr,  Protein=5.35gr

 

 

References:

 

(1)http://drsircus.com/diabetes/reversing-insulin-resistance-the-insulin-magnesium-story/

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=43

http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/10-amazing-benefits-of-chlorophyll/

 

Grapefruit and Diabetes

 

After blindly ignoring fruit for about 14 years (following multiple recommendations that Type 1’s ignore fruit because of its’ high sugar content), I recently had an “aha” moment about fruit and starting doing some research.

 

As a nutritionist, I’m well aware of the multiple benefits of fruits and even though I eat and drink a lot of greens, I knew that I was missing out on some very significant health benefits by ignoring fruit in my diet.

 

Since I really like grapefruit, I decided to start my research there. As it turns out, grapefruit can help lower insulin resistance from its’ flavonoid, naringenin, a powerful antioxidant. It also helps to reprogram the liver to get rid of excess fat instead of storing it there. Another great thing about grapefruit is that it binds itself to toxins, helping to flush them out of your body. (Dr. Sears).

 

As a very high source of vitamin C, grapefruit supports the immune system, another  benefit for diabetics. Vitamin C is also known to promote cardiovascular health as well as reducing inflammation. Grapefruit has been researched and shown to lower LDL cholesterol as well.

 

There is a caveat against eating grapefruits though as it can increase circulating levels of certain drugs including statins. So, if you’re taking statins or have a question about grapefruit’s interaction with any other drugs you’re on like Metformin, always check with your doctor or pharmacist before adding grapefruit to your diet.

 

Another caveat is to avoid drinking grapefruit juice if you’re diabetic and eat the fruit instead. An 8 ounce glass of grapefruit juice has roughly 20 carbs in it compared with 9 carbs for ½ grapefruit itself.

 

Total carbs for ½ of a pink grapefruit is 10.34 grams with fiber at 1.41 grams for a net carb load of 8.93 grams of carbs rounded out to a total of 9 grams of carbs for ½ of a grapefruit. I compared the carbs in pink versus white grapefruit and there was only a slight difference. At roughly 40 calories and just short of 1 gram of protein, grapefruit is also often a recommended fruit for weight loss.

 

References:

 

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=25

http://www.livestrong.com/article/330781-what-are-the-effects-of-grapefruit-on-diabetes/

https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/can-grapefruit-juice-prevent-weight-gain-increase-insulin-sensitivity/