Diabetic friendly fats put more good into your diabetic diet. They keep your cardiac and neurologic systems healthy and help control blood sugar too.
These fats are not hard to find if you know what to look for. But you won't see them in processed foods.
Some restaurants have adopted the use of healthy fats in their cooking, and others will use them if you ask. Also the popular Mediterranean diet has made it easy to find diabetic friendly fats in your grocery store.
The fats you find on the Mediterranean diet are all diabetic friendly. The list starts with olive oil.
For cooking, coating, marinating and tossing with vegetables, olive oil is what they use. The very best is extra virgin olive oil.
What is extra virgin olive oil? It's what comes from the first pressing of the olives, and it has the most anti-inflammatory and antioxidant strength. But what makes it so great for a diabetic?
It has more oleic acid than any other oil. And this oleic acid is amazing. It decreases bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol.
It lowers blood pressure by getting into cell membranes and changing how the heart and cardiovascular system react.
And it has been proven in dozens of recent studies to reduce the risk of many types of cancer. There are nine different types of antioxidant in olive oil, making it a super superfood.
Just like any other non-hydrogenated fat, it slows your digestion of carbohydrates, leading to more even blood sugars after a meal.
All oils have the same number of calories, but olive oil is so good for you that it is medicine in the form of diabetic friendly fats.
Omega-3 fatty acid is called an essential oil. Our body needs it but can't make it, and supplements won't give us all the things that are in it naturally.
So where do you get it? The best source is cold-water fatty fish like wild salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring. Fresh tuna has more benefits than canned.
If you don't care for fish, you can get your omega-3 from walnuts, chia, flax seeds and soybean products like tofu and canola oil.
They are diabetic friendly fats because omega-3 is a strong anti-inflammatory, and we know now that diabetes is an inflammatory disease.
All this goodness comes along with all the other great things omega-3 fatty acids do for us.
They may be one of the reasons the Mediterranean diet leads to lower blood sugar and lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Walnuts, pecans and almonds (not really a nut but we think of them that way) are familiar to most of us, and we know they pack calories because of the oil in them.
But that oil is so full of antioxidant power that every dietitian and nutrition expert encourages us to make room for nuts and seeds.
Almonds are full of calcium and magnesium. Many diabetics are short on magnesium, and when it is added to their diet their type 2 diabetes improves. We tend to stay away from milk (it's a form of sugar), so we are often low on calcium. Almonds helps our bones stay healthy.
That alone would make almonds great. But they also have a lot of vitamin E and phytochemicals (special antioxidants) that do all kinds of good things for us.
Besides having omega-3 fatty acid, walnuts at an ounce a day improved blood flow in type 2 diabetics.
And when compared to a dieting group who did not eat walnuts, the walnut eaters kept their weight off for a year while the others gained weight.
Pecans have a special form of vitamin E that lowers cholesterol. They are the most oil-filled of the three nuts on this list. But that's a good thing because we need this kind of fat.
Since nuts are high in calories because of the oil content, some people avoid them. But nuts have been proven to help in weight loss.
As a snack, they make you feel full without the carbohydrate hunger you get from crackers and chips after a couple of hours.
Dieters stay satisfied longer with nuts. There is also the reduction in fasting blood sugar that is a result of eating things with good fat in them. Nuts have also been shown to lower bad cholesterol in many research studies.
Diabetics are afraid of high triglycerides because that is part of the metabolic syndrome, and avoiding fats may seem smart.
But diabetic friendly fats are not the cause of elevated triglycerides. Nuts actually help by lowering carb hunger and adding fiber.
Every edible seed has some of the same properties as nuts - the high fiber and good fat. Some of the best known are flax, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Great diabetic snacks include them.
Hummus was new to me, so I researched it. Hummus is a popular part of the Mediterranean diet.
This spreadable bean dip is made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans), ground sesame seeds (also called tahini) and olive oil, along with some garlic and other spices.
The combination of protein and fat make it diabetic friendly, and it is spread on anything from whole wheat crackers to many raw vegetables. Sweet, salty or spicy hot, you can have it any way you like.
Chia seeds are another food that was not familiar. They were used by Mayans and Aztecs centuries ago. They have been "discovered" again as a superfood.
You can find chia flour now, and some people use it to replace a fourth of the wheat flour in recipes.
Try it yourself and you will be adding fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and protein to your recipe without changing the taste.
What makes these ancient South American seeds so desirable for a diabetic diet? They have the highest protein of any seed or nut, large amounts of calcium and omega-3, and lots of fiber.
Some people say chia makes them feel full so they eat less other foods. That claim has not been proven, but you could add it to your diabetic friendly fats and see for yourself.
Diabetics need to stay away from hydrogenated oils (SoFAS) because they increase inflammation.
There is evidence that inflammation is the root of heart and artery disease, Alzheimer's, type 2 diabetes and many other disorders.
Adding diabetic friendly fats into your diet may take some effort at first because it means a diet change. But it is a good one.
Eating the olive oil, fish and nuts that people around the Mediterranean have eaten for centuries leads to lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.
It is true that they ate these things because they were good, not because they were good nutrition. So it is not hard to learn to like this way of eating.
Diabetic friendly foods are delicious and satisfying in a way that our Western diet of processed grain, empty calories and AGEs is not.
Research has proved that you need these diabetic friendly fats, not only because of all their antioxidants and essential fatty acids. They also slow the digestion of carbohydrates, giving your impaired insulin response a chance to catch up.
The result is better blood sugar control and better weight control as well. Give diabetic friendly fats a try and prove it.
After you change the
food habits that may have led to type 2 diabetes, you will be free to think about the people you love and the things that really matter to you.
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