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How Phytonutrients Are Helpful in Diabetes

By

Chef Franklin Becker

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This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the HealthGrades advertising policy.

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Colorful Carrots

I love to prepare dishes with flavorful fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They look beautiful on the plate, and they taste delicious. But besides great flavor, there are other reasons to eat these foods. Plant foods are full of phytonutrients—good-for-you chemicals that help your body stay healthy.


Phyto Benefits

Managing blood glucose and preventing heart disease are important goals for anyone with diabetes. That’s where phytonutrients come in. Some phytonutrients help lower blood glucose. Others protect insulin-producing cells in the pancreas from oxidative damage. Still others guard against inflammation, help lower blood cholesterol, and help keep arteries healthy.

The lean protein from this pan-roasted chicken can help stabilize your blood sugar levels.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Feb 16, 2015

2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

I’ve learned that certain phytonutrients may even help prevent diabetes complications. For instance, anthocyanins improve blood flow in small blood vessels. That may help prevent diabetic damage to eyes, nerves and kidneys.  Catechins are antioxidants that may help kidneys to function better. Green tea is especially rich in catechins.

Where to Get Them

Whole and unprocessed foods are a great source of phytonutrients because they contain thousands of these substances. Here’s where you can find some important ones:

  • Anthocyanins:  Tart cherries, berries, red cabbage, radishes, eggplant

  • Beta-carotene: Carrots, papaya, mangoes, apricots, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash

  • Flavanols:  Onions, kale, leeks, broccoli

  • Lignans: Flaxseed and whole grains

  • Lycopene: Tomatoes, red peppers, watermelon, pink grapefruit

  • Quercetin: Apples, onions, tea, red wine

  • Resveretrol: Grapes, grape juice, wine, peanuts, berries

To get enough phytonutrients, include lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains in your diet. You’ll be fueling your cells with the powerful substances they need to help you stay healthy and control your diabetes.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Jan 29, 2017

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Antioxidants: What You Need to Know, American Academy of Family Physicians, February 2014 (http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/food-nutrition/nutrients/antioxidants-wh...
  2. Phytochemicals, American Cancer Society, January 17, 2013 (http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvi...
  3. Dietary Polyphenols as Potential Nutraceuticals in Management of Diabetes: A Review. Bahadoran, Z., et al. Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorder. 2013;12(43). doi: 10.1186/2251-6581-12-43. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3751738/pdf/2251-6581-12-43.pdf)

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