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Slow and steady

Alternatives that won’t spike your blood glucose levels.

By Joan Teotico


Rice, bread, grains, fruits and vegetables all contain carbohydrates, a key macronutrient that fuels our body. But careful selection of carbohydrate sources, especially those that deliver blood sugar-friendly benefits with high fiber, may help manage or prevent diabetes. Here are some recommendations from experts:

Sugar spikers: Corn flakes and instant oatmeal
Sweet switch: Rolled or old-fashioned oatmeal

“It has a rich source of soluble fiber, which has been shown to stabilize blood glucose among diabetics. This will also help diabetics control their morning appetite,” explains Terence Trajano-Matira, R.N.D., a clinical dietitian at St. Luke’s Medical Center, Quezon City. Fiber is also good for the ticker—it helps dial down low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol. The type of oatmeal matters, too. “Choose old-fashioned or rolled oats for lower glycemic response,” advises Ivy Ramallosa, R.N.D., registered nutritionist-dietitian and unit head of the Diabetes Care Center at Makati Medical Center.

Fuel your day with a hearty bowl of banana nut oatmeal for breakfast: Dice one small banana and chop four walnut halves; stir them into one cup of hot cooked oatmeal. Serve with a glass of skim milk.

Sugar spiker: White potato
Sweet switch: Sweet potato

Packed with fiber, beta carotene (vitamin A), vitamin C, and vitamin B6, this root crop helps keep our vision, immune system, nerves and skin healthy. “And despite being primarily carbohydrate, some studies have shown that it can help stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance,” says Trajano-Matira.

Whip up this baked sweet potato hash as a side dish for lunch or dinner: Preheat oven to 400°F; pour two tablespoons of olive oil on a baking sheet, and spread until its entire surface is coated. Rinse and peel three sweet potatoes. Grate potatoes using a hand grater or food processor then place them on the baking sheet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes. Serve immediately. For a delicious family meal, whip up the Shepherd’s Pie made with sweet potato, a source of healthy carbs.

Sugar spiker: White bread
Sweet switch: Lettuce leaves and thinly sliced vegetables such as zucchini, jicama and celery, suggests Marie Gonzalez, owner of Kitchen Revolution.

The American Diabetes Association recommends eating plenty of these non-starchy, low-calorie and low-carbohydrate vegetables that deliver fiber and nutrients. Create sandwich fillings from hummus, mixed roasted vegetables, or a protein base of chicken, tuna or tofu; spread either on lettuce or sliced veggies. Not keen on switching to no-bread sandwiches? Use whole-wheat bread instead.

Sugar spiker: White rice
Sweet switch: Brown or unpolished rice

Marilou Bulan, R.N.D., C.D.E., chief dietitian of Cardinal Santos Medical Center says rice, our staple food, is a good source of carbohydrates, vitamin B and soluble fiber. However, the nutrients and fiber are stripped off once processed. “The absorption of its carbohydrates or glycemic index also increases because of the loss [of] bran, starch and fiber,” she adds.

Sugar spiker: Sugar
Sweet switch: Fresh fruits and spices

High in vitamins, minerals and fiber, fresh fruits are the best natural alternatives, Bulan says. “Eating whole fruit in its entirety [versus] fruit juice or sweetened desserts is much healthier … and it has fiber to slow down sugar absorption,” Gonzalez adds. Sweeten yogurt with puréed fruit and try adding nutmeg and cinnamon to coffee, milk and yogurt.

Get sweet switch recipes and more expert tips in the November issue of HealthToday.

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