Healthy Eating is Your Best Defense Against Diabetes

Obesity is the largest contributing factor to the development of Type 2 diabetes. The problem is that everywhere we look there’s cheap, convenient and extremely unhealthy food. Because of this, the United States is battling an obesity epidemic, while at the same time starving for critical nutrients. Healthy eating is your best defense against diabetes!

How has this happened? In a previous post we examined the development of human’s relationship with food and technology.  Humans also have a huge capacity to eat and can eat several pounds of food in one sitting. This is a result of food scarcities in our past which, at least in the U.S., hasn’t been an issue for many years.

In 2006, for the first time, the number of people WORLDWIDE who were obese equaled the number of folks that are malnourished.

In  2004, the Dietary Guidelines Scientific Advisory Committee reported that adults and children in the U.S. consume too little calcium, vitamins A, C and E, fiber, magnesium and potassium.

When it comes to food and nutrition it’s hard to know what to eat and not eat because there have been so many conflicting claims over the years. Much of the time the recommendations have not been founded on good science as much as what is good for food manufacturers.

In the 1970’s, eggs became a bad food item due to their cholesterol levels. The egg has since been rehabilitated and is now back in vogue nutrition wise. In the 80’s we were on the no-fat, low-fat craze cutting everything with fat out of our diet. Food manufacturers, by the way quickly figured a way to add the flavor (and the calories) that fat provided by substituting high fructose corn syrup (and that’s another story) to our foods. In the 90’s we saw the demise of the carbohydrate with diets such as Atkins and South Beach. Yet, as a nation we continue to grow more and more obese and with that obesity comes a host of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and maybe even cancer.

So what can we do? By avoiding processed foods in favor of foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. That means eating fish, poultry and lean meats, legumes, nuts and ADD COLOR to your diet…

What do we mean when we say add color to your diet? Fruits and vegetables are filled with COLOR and not just one COLOR they come in many COLORS.

Remember that there are about 150,000 species of edible plants on earth and our hunter-gather ancestors ate about 800 of those. The average American eats many fewer. In fact, surveys show that the top five picks are:

  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Tomatoes (including sauces)
  • Potatoes (mainly French fries)
  • Bananas
  • Oranges (mainly as juice)

Iceberg lettuce, though a green vegetable is largely comprised of water. Most of the tomatoes are actually consumed as some sort of sauce (which is a good thing because cooking enhances the lycopene – but pre-prepared sauces are filled with high fructose corn syrup – which is definitely a bad thing!) Potatoes (contrary to popular myth) are pretty good for you, deep frying them in fat isn’t though!

So you can see, when it comes to adding color to our diet we have a long way to go…In fact, studies show that only 20% of Americans eat the recommended 5 – 9 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday.

That’s a shame, because not only are vegetables tasty, low in calories and fat they are brimming with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. These phytochemicals actually include many powerful antioxidants that can help you stave off disease and cell destruction. In addition, they are actually cheaper then many of the processed and pre-prepared foods that you find in your supermarket. But unlike many of the food manufacturers, the fruit and vegetable growers don’t have huge advertising budgets to tell you why their foods are so good for you!

Adding color to your diet in the form of fruits and vegetables gives you a marvelous palette of tastes, textures and variety to provide interest each day.

Fruits and Vegetables – All the Colors of the Rainbow

Fruits and vegetables can be categorized by where they fall in the “color” family. The color palettes are RED, ORANGE, YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE/PURPLE. Each part of the palette brings something different to “the table”, so to speak and it’s important to try and eat a serving from each one of the colors each day to provide a balanced diet.

Red

Reds are great, not just because they look wonderful on your plate, but also because they come loaded with lots of great vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. In fact, 7 of the top 20 antioxidant fruits and vegetables are red. Those seven are:

  • Strawberries
  • Cranberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cherries
  • Red Grapes
  • Beets
  • Red Bell Peppers

But there are lots of others to choose from.

StrawberriesCranberriesCherries
RaspberriesRed GrapesBeets
Red Bell PeppersApplesPomegranates
TomatoesRed OnionsWatermelon
GuavaRed PotatoesPink Grapefruit
Red Leaf LettuceRadishesRadicchio

Yellow

There aren’t as many yellow fruits and vegetables as some of the other families but they carry important nutrients and shouldn’t be left out of a balanced diet. Because many of them don’t have strong flavors it’s also pretty easy to get kids to eat them!

Yellow (Summer) SquashGrapefruitYellow or Wax Beans
Yellow FigsCornYellow Bell Peppers
Yellow PearsYellow ApplesPineapple

Orange

One of the real power-houses in the rainbow. Many orange fleshed fruits and vegetables can be cold stored which made them an important part of our diet before the advent of modern packaging. They should still be an important part of our diet today. Some of the orange family includes:

OrangesCarrotsSweet Potatoes
TangerinesPeachesNectarines
MangoesCantaloupesPumpkins
Winter SquashApricotsOrange Bell Peppers
PapayaPersimmon

Green

When you think vegetable the first color that comes to mind is green. In fact, green is the predominant color for most vegetables (even red and yellow bell peppers start out green) and green includes some absolutely wonderful options.

SpinachMustard GreensKaleCollard Greens
Beet GreensTurnip GreensAvocadoPeas
Green BeansArtichokeBrussels SproutsBroccoli
CabbageWatercressParsleyLettuce
Green ApplesGreen GrapesHoneydew MelonCelery
EndiveCucumberChinese CabbageLeeks
OkraZucchini Swiss ChardLima Beans

Blue/Purple

Most of the members of this family are rich with antioxidants and provide lots of protection for the body.

EggplantBlueberriesPlums
Grapes RaisinsPrunes
BlackberriesPurple CabbagePurple Potatoes
FigsCurrentsElderberries

You can see that the possibilities and combination’s endless! The other thing about eating a colorful diet of fruits and vegetables…In all the years of conflicting information about nutrition – NO REPUTABLE SCIENTIST has ever found evidence that eating fruits and vegetables is bad for you.

So eat up and get healthy by taking advantage of these little powerhouses filled with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants (and virtually all of them are fat free!).