Lower blood sugar with blueberries
Long after Fats Domino found his thrill on Blueberry Hill, researchers have found some thrilling news about blueberries. These tiny berries may play a big role in preventing diabetes.
Here’s how you can lower blood sugar with blueberries. Just whip up a blueberry smoothie instead of chomping on potato chips or other unhealthy fare.
Researchers at Louisiana State University System’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center discovered that two blueberry smoothies a day helped improve insulin sensitivity in obese, insulin-resistant people — the kind of folks at high risk of developing diabetes.
Insulin resistance means your body produces the hormone insulin but doesn’t use it properly. You need insulin to help convert glucose, a type of sugar, into energy. Cells have insulin receptors that work like locks on a door, and insulin is the key. After a meal, insulin fits into the keyhole, or receptor, and the cell opens to let in glucose from your blood.
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When muscle, fat, and liver cells become insulin resistant, they stop responding properly. Insulin can’t unlock them, so glucose can’t enter. Sugar then begins to build up in your blood.
Eventually, this high blood sugar can lead to diabetes. Improving your insulin sensitivity, or how your body responds to insulin, can help keep your blood sugar under control.
The 32 people in the six-week study snacked on smoothies around breakfast and dinner. Some got smoothies made with freeze-dried, whole blueberries crushed into a powder. Each day, they received the equivalent of about two cups of fresh, whole blueberries. Others got placebo smoothies, which contained the same amount of calories but no blueberries. Keep in mind that they didn’t just add smoothies to their diet. They also cut calories elsewhere, so their overall food intake remained the same.
In the blueberry group, 67 percent of the people had at least a 10 percent or greater improvement in insulin sensitivity, as measured by the state-of-the-art hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp technique. Their average change was 22.2 percent, compared to 4.9 percent for the placebo group.
Credit goes to the high content of phytochemicals in blueberries, especially anthocyanins — powerful antioxidants that give blueberries their color. Researchers aren’t sure exactly how they work their magic, but they seem to have a direct effect. That’s because nothing else changed between the two groups, including body weight, inflammation, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Besides being packed with phytochemicals, blueberries are also rich in fiber and vitamin C, making them an all-around healthy snack. Blending them into smoothies is one cool trick to sneak more of these powerhouses into your diet. You can also sprinkle some on your breakfast cereal, mix them into a fruit salad, or just eat a bowl of blueberries for dessert. However you do it, eating more blueberries can be a delicious way to defend yourself against diabetes.
Just think — the ultimate anti-diabetes treatment may be sitting in your refrigerator right now. Now that’s quite a thrill.
- FC&A Staff Writer