Health experts have shared eight foods you can swap for healthier options that could prevent – or even reverse – type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. There are two main types – type 1 is where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin. Type 2 is where the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells do not react to insulin properly.
The NHS says type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. In the UK, over 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2.
The condition has long been associated with obesity and poor diets, and eating healthily is crucial to preventing a diagnosis, reports the Mirror. Karen Poole, head of healthy and sustainable diets at Tesco, said: “Living with obesity is the most significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
“Our advice, along with Diabetes UK, is to manage your risk by having a healthy, balanced diet, following the NHS Eatwell Guide.” Here are some swaps you can adopt to make a healthier lifestyle choice.
Cereal to porridge
Boxes of popular cereals may be a vastly more exciting choice to wake up to than porridge oats, but they’re also an easy way to send blood sugar levels soaring, then crashing later in the day. For a healthier sweet hit, Karen suggests topping bowls with berries or peanut butter. Oats are also much cheaper than boxes of cereal and are much better for your digestive system – and the environment, too.
“If you’ve got no time to cook porridge in the morning, then prep overnight oats,” she said. Oats will soak up milk or water if refrigerated overnight.
Cereal bar to a banana
Another sugary hit which will send you crashing before your day’s really gotten started. Despite being mistaken for a healthy snack, many cereal bars are loaded with sugar and will just have you hungry again in no time.
“A banana is the perfect pre-packed product to take out with you,” said Karen. “Have it with some nuts for protein and fibre – just check the serving size on the packet.”
White bread to wholemeal
As tempting as soft white bread can be for your sandwiches, it’s also incredibly starchy and the body breaks it down quickly into sugar. Wholemeal carbs take longer to digest, leaving people feeling fuller for longer. It’s also a good source of fibre which is crucial for preventing type 2 diabetes.
Chocolate bar to a piece of fruit
As delicious as a bar of chocolate is, it’s not so great as an everyday snack. Switching that KitKat to an apple or some grapes in your lunch is a much better way of preventing diabetes. Karen said: “If you’re looking for a sweet kick, a crunchy apple is a great alternative.”
Minced beef to lentils
When it comes to dishes like spaghetti bolognese and lasagne, using green lentils instead of minced beef is much better for our health, the planet and at 65p compared to £3.50 – our wallets too. Karen said: “You can replace the mince with canned lentils in water, which adds fibre and also saves money.”
Chicken curry to veggie curry
Pulses such as chickpeas taste great in a curry and are much better for our health and waistline. As they’re packed with fibre, dieticians recommend them for keeping blood sugars down and preventing diabetes.
Karen said: “I have a bag of mixed frozen veg in my freezer so can just chuck in a handful, reducing any waste from fresh veg. You can also swap white rice for wholegrain.”
Biscuits to yoghurt
We all love a chocolate digestive or custard cream with a cup of tea, but again it’s no secret they’re packed with sugar. Pots of yoghurt are much healthier for our pancreas – make sure to switch to full fat Greek yoghurts however, as the diet pots are often packed with sweeteners and are more processed. Karen added: “There is a strong connection between eating fermented products [like yoghurt] and managing diabetes risk.”
Crisps to handfuls of popcorn or nuts
They’re a lunchtime staple but, despite being a savoury snack, crisps also contain sugar alongside the high amounts of saturated fat. Bags of popcorn are much lighter and contain fibre, while nuts are far more filling provided they are in modest portions. Karen said: “You get extra fibre and less saturated fat with popcorn – but not the toffee kind.”
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