Bananas on your cereal. Strawberry shortcake. Lip-smacking apple slices dipped in peanut butter. With treats as sweet as these, why do we grumble and groan when the doctor reminds us to eat more fruit? It’s a gold mine for the vitamins and minerals your body needs including vitamin C, which helps prevent the damage that high blood sugar does to cells and arteries.
1. Squeeze more citrus fruit into your cart. Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit aren’t just rich in vitamin C, they’re surprisingly good sources of fiber. (One large orange contains 4 grams.) Lemon and lime juice are delicious in homemade salad dressings. The zest can be grated into vinaigrette dressings or added to the dry ingredients of breads and cakes. Lemons may have another advantage: Some preliminary research suggests that acidic foods like lemon actually blunt the effect of meals on your blood sugar. Buy a few extra lemons and plan to add the juice to everything from tuna sandwiches to pasta dishes.
2. Bag some apples. Want to keep your blood sugar on an even keel? Heed the old saying about eating apples to keep the doctor away. Apples are loaded with soluble fiber, which slows the digestion of food and thus the entry of glucose into the bloodstream. One group of researchers discovered that women who ate at least one apple a day were 28 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who ate none. Apples are also rich in flavonoids, antioxidants that help prevent heart disease — if you eat the skin.
3. Put a cantaloupe in your cart. These melons are real standouts in the vitamin C department. And despite their sweetness, melons don’t contain a lot of sugar, so forget anything you’ve heard about banning them from your diet. Can’t use up a whole cantaloupe by having a slice every morning with breakfast? No problem. Cut it into chunks and scatter them in some sugar-free flavored gelatin, then chill. Voila — an easy, low-fat dessert. A cup of melon contains more than your recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, essential protection against some of diabetes’ major complications, such as kidney and retina problems.
4. Buy as many berries as you can eat in a week. They may be candy to your taste buds, but their sweetness is deceptive. Fructose, the natural sugar found in most fruits, is sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), so it takes much less (with fewer calories) to get that sweet taste. And fructose is friendlier to blood sugar, causing a much slower rise than sucrose does. Berries are chock-full of fiber, not to mention anthocyanins, healthful plant compounds that scientists believe may help lower blood sugar by boosting insulin production.