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Blueberries may prevent diabetes, says research

blueberries may prevent diabetes

Blueberries may prevent diabetes, that’s according to several studies. Hailed as superfoods, blueberries have been widely studied for their health benefits and antioxidant effects. These small fruits packed with nutrients, such as fiber and antioxidant vitamins, may work wonders for managing diabetes. Blueberries get their deep blue hue from anthocyanins, a type of phytochemical (naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants and plant-based foods). Another phytochemical known as flavonoids, found in blueberries, contribute to numerous health benefits.

The American Diabetes Association has named blueberries as a “diabetes superfood” because these tiny gems are loaded with nutrients, such as antioxidants, vitamins and fiber, which contribute to several crucial help for dealing with diabetes.

blueberries may prevent diabetes

2012 study suggests blueberries may prevent diabetes

A 2012 government-funded study suggested that flavonoid rich fruits like blueberries may cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by almost 23 percent. In the study, 200,000 men and women who worked as health professionals were tracked for 24 years through regular questionnaires. None of the participants had diabetes when the study started. Later, during the study, 12,611 participants were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found that compared with the individuals who consumed no blueberries those who ate 2 or more servings of blueberries per week had a 23% lower risk of developing diabetes. In the same manner, apple lovers who chomped through 5 or apples each week also reduced their diabetes risk by 23%.

blueberries may prevent diabetes

Apples and blueberries both contain high amounts of a plant compound called flavonoids. These compounds have been extensively studied for their health benefits. Especially, the deep blue pigment in blueberries are due to anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid. In a previous study, overweight participants were able to improve their insulin resistance (a harbinger to type 2 diabetes) by 10% by drinking blueberry smoothies.

Read more: Eat blueberries for a healthy heart

Blueberries may prevent diabetes by aiding in weight loss

Obesity is considered a cause for diabetes. Blueberries may help in weight loss since it is very low in calories but high in nutrients.

A 2010 study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that obese adults with insulin resistance who drank 2 blueberry smoothies every day for 6 weeks saw a 10% or more improvement in their insulin resistance.

blueberries may prevent diabetes

April Stull, lead researcher and an instructor in diabetes and nutrition at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at LSU – Baton Rouge studied 32 obese adults with high insulin levels who did not have type 2 diabetes. They picked 15 participants randomly and gave them a smoothie that contained 22.5 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder. They were asked to drink the concoction twice a day for six weeks. The rest of the participants drank a placebo smoothie without any blueberries.

The participants had to fill out questionnaires on food and barred from eating or drinking any kind of fruit that contained berries and grapes.

Read more Blueberries: Superfoods packed with endless health benefits

The effect of drinking blueberry smoothies on insulin sensitivity was very apparent. Researchers believe that anthocyanins, a compound found in blueberries have antioxidant properties which might be responsible for improved insulin sensitivity.

Blueberries may prevent diabetes by help body process glucose effortlessly

A 2009 study done by University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center Study showed that blueberries may help the body process glucose efficiently, increase body’s sensitivity to insulin and manage blood sugar.

The study presented at the Experimental Biology convention in New Orleans also showed that lab rats that were fed a powdered concoction made from crushed blueberries had a blood sugar level that was lower than what they had before eating blueberry powder. The genes in these mice also altered to process glucose more efficiently than before eating blueberries.

blueberries may prevent diabetes
Blueberry pie

An ideal diabetic diet

Blueberries are considered an ideal diabetic diet because of its low glycemic index – a measurement to rank carbohydrate-containing foods. Foods with high glycemic index raise the blood sugar level very quickly, while those with low glycemic index do it gradually. High GI foods are those with a score of above 70. Blueberries and other berries have a score below 40.

A whole cup of blueberries contain 84 calories, 0.49 gram of fat, 21 grams of carbohydrate and 3.6 grams of dietary fiber.

It is best to eat berries raw and natural state. Heating and freezing may damage its antioxidant benefits.

blueberries may prevent diabetes
Blueberry muffins

Blueberries: Nutritional breakdown

One cup of fresh blueberries contains:

Calories                    84

Protein                  1.1 g

Cholesterol              0 g

Carbohydrate    21.45 g

Fat                         0.49 g

Sugar                  14.74 g

Dietary fiber        3.60 g

blueberries may prevent diabetes

Nutrients in one cup of blueberries:

5 percent of daily vitamin B6

24 percent of daily vitamin C

36 percent of daily vitamin K

Calcium                      9 mg

Potassium              114 mg

Phosphorus              18 mg

Iron                         0.41 mg

Zinc                         0.24 mg

Sodium                         1 mg

Folate                            9 mg

Try this blueberry smoothie twice a day and keep your diabetes under control:

Blueberry Flax Yogurt Smoothie

blueberries may prevent diabetes

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 small banana
  • 6 ounces of plain or nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed

Method

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Drink immediately.

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Salahuddin Ahmed is a freelance medical writer and blogger, who has been writing about medicine and health for more than a decade. A former New York transplant, he now lives in his native Dhaka. He received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Louisiana and a diploma on eTechnology from NIIT, Dhaka. A voracious eater, Salahuddin only dines at restaurants that offer free refills on rice.

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