Super Fruits and VeggiesJuly 8, 2009 Written by JP [Font too small?]
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know my general philosophy is to steer you toward antioxidant and nutrient dense whole foods that are low in sugar. This is the basic tenet of most low carbohydrate diets. But there is a common misconception about carb reduced menu plans and that is that they can’t include plenty of vegetables and even some fruit. This is simply not the case. Today I’ll focus on several exceptional fruits and vegetables that can be deliciously incorporated into almost any diet. These are the exact types of foods that have enjoyed a favorable scientific spotlight for years now. In addition, I’ll provide some very simple ways in which you can prepare these nutritional gems to enhance flavor while keeping prep time in check.
It’s summer here in sunny Southern California. So let’s start out with some seasonal fruits: blueberries and strawberries. Both of these flavor packed berries have a low glycemic index (under 55) and glycemic load (under 10). The glycemic index (GI) of a food indicates the immediate effect it’s expected to have on your blood sugar levels. It essentially defines how quickly a consumed carbohydrate converts to sugar within the body. The glycemic load (GL) provides a broader view of foods by assessing their total carbohydrate content based on the serving size. By looking at both numbers we can make a reasonable determination about how they’ll impact both blood sugar response and insulin production.
- Glycemic Index Scale – 0-55 is considered low glycemic. 56-69 falls under the “medium” classification and 70+ indicates a high glycemic food.
- Glycemic Load Scale – 0-10 foods have a low glycemic load. 11-19 foods possess a medium GL. 20 or higher on the GL scale applies to foods with a high glycemic load.
Blueberries have a GI of 53 and GL of 5. They’re also an incredibly rich source of antioxidants, which may help ward off everything from cancer to diabetes, heart disease and even memory loss. (1,2,3,4)
You can make a simple, refreshing treat by adding ripe blueberries and strawberries, cold water and coconut milk, a few ice cubes and a touch of a natural, zero-calorie sweetener such as luo han guo or stevia into a blender. Process the ingredients until they’re thick and creamy, and enjoy! The coconut milk not only lends a tropical flavor profile to this frozen drink, but it’s fat content will further help blunt your blood sugar/insulin response.
Bok choy, also known as Chinese cabbage, is a fantastic and versatile vegetable that’s ideal for lower carbohydrate diets. In fact, it has a staggeringly low glycemic index of 0! It’s a wonderful source of fiber, vitamins C and K, and also contains a hefty amount of the heart health mineral potassium. The medical literature promotes this cruciferous family member as a way to increase vitamin A levels in children and as a natural chemoprotective substance in the fight against breast and prostate cancer. (8,9,10) Its effect on hormonal cancers appears to come from glucosinolates and indoles, a group of substances that seem to augment the processing of estrogens so that cancer growth is discouraged.
This video demystifies how to easily and healthfully prepare this under-utilized vegetable. Adding garlic, ginger and red bell pepper (another low-GI/GL veggie) not only entices the taste buds, but also adds a considerable boost to the cardiovascular benefits of this dish.
The final stop in the produce aisle brings us to organic avocados. Avocados are often referred to as vegetables, but they’re actually a fruit. What makes this particular “berry” unique is the high concentration of monounsaturated fats it contains. Its high fiber content is ideal for promoting healthy blood sugar levels. But there so many other reasons to include this creamy delight into your regular diet. For instance, avocados are rich in phytosterols which can help lower LDL cholesterol, and they’re also a phenomenal source of potassium, which aids in the management of blood pressure. In the past few years, researchers have uncovered many other health concerns that appear to respond to avocado consumption, such as diabetes, ulcers and wound healing. (11,12,13)
A snack that we regularly have at our home couldn’t be simpler to make. We start by quartering a medium sized avocado and then wrap each piece with a slice of natural prosciutto. This recipe has a fresh taste that strikes a perfect balance between the smooth, neutral avocado meat and the salty goodness of the cured pork. I’ve personally found that snacks such as these really do wonders for managing my appetite between meals.
This is just a brief introduction to a few of the healthy fruits and vegetables that I highly recommended for managing weight and overall wellness. Dietary changes don’t have to be dramatic. If you simply replace a few of the refined, higher carbohydrate foods with some of these lower GI/GL examples, I think you’ll be making a profound change for the better in the long run.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
Tags: Fruits, Low Carb, Vegetables
Posted in Diabetes, Heart Health, Nutrition