4 Super Foods for Preventing Diabetes

These power foods go above and beyond to help protect your body from diabetes.

By Janis Graham from Reader's Digest | June 2009
Coffee BeansKlaus Arras / Getty Images

If you develop diabetes, you can expect it to steal years from your life. Sound like a bad deal? To protect yourself, start with a well-balanced diet, of course, but add these superfoods. New research shows they’re especially effective in preventing the disease.

1. Milk. Drinking eight ounces or more daily reduces the risk of developing diabetes by 40 percent, thanks to milk’s calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D, which boost your body’s ability to use insulin correctly. Just choose skim or 1 percent — saturated fat may cancel out the benefit.

2. Coffee. Pour it on: In a recent study, people who downed four cups daily had a 30 percent lower risk of diabetes. Decaf is just as good, says Rob M. van Dam, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition at Harvard University, but choose filtered coffee — unfiltered preparations (such as French press) may hike cholesterol.

3. Nuts. In a recent study of more than 64,000 middle-aged Chinese women, those who ate peanuts every day cut their risk of developing diabetes by as much as 21 percent. Other nuts are just as effective, studies suggest; try an ounce a day of walnuts, almonds, or cashews. (Research shows that amount won’t pack on the pounds.)

4. Cinnamon. This fragrant spice seems to dampen blood sugar swings that can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study. As little as a half teaspoon a day — sprinkled on cereal, yogurt, or fruit — has been shown to help keep blood sugar levels healthy.