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Diet Additions for Diabetics: Buckwheat and Cinnamon May Help Control Blood Sugar

Many people believe that the diabetic diet is about what you can't eat. However, recent research shows that the addition of certain foods, such as buckwheat and cinnamon, may actually help diabetics control their blood sugar.

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Contrary to popular belief, diabetics don't have a list of foods they can or cannot eat. The key to controlling diabetes is avoiding excessively high or low blood sugar levels. The only way to monitor blood sugar levels is to test blood samples regularly using a home monitoring device. Based on these results, diabetics will begin to learn which foods work for them and which don't.

The Diabetic Diet and Type 2 Diabetes
In general, diabetics don't need a "special" diet. A balanced, healthy diet, combined with weight control and exercise, are essential to controlling blood sugar levels. However, a diabetic should be careful with foods that are high in refined sugar (like candy and sugared drinks). If you need help curbing your sweet tooth, try eating sugar-free snacks or drinking diet soda. Many grocers carry sugar-free versions of favorite desserts, like sugar-free cakes and cookies.

When trying to regulate blood sugar, much depends on the type of diabetes a person has. While type-1 diabetes requires treatment with insulin, many type 2 diabetics, especially those who are overweight, can avoid medication entirely with the proper exercise and diet. A health professional can provide more specific information.

Diabetic Diet and Cinnamon
Although no foods are off limits, some provide more health benefits than others. The Diabetes Care journal recently published a research study led by Dr. Richard A. Anderson that related intriguing news about cinnamon.

Participants in the forty-day study were given either a cinnamon pill or a placebo made of flour. All subjects who received the daily cinnamon pill showed up to a thirty percent reduction in blood sugar levels. In addition, those receiving the cinnamon pill also had lowered levels of LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides. Those who received the placebo showed no change of any kind.

Earlier studies have shown that hydroxychalcone, a component found in cinnamon, has insulin-like effects on fat cells. This may explain why cinnamon reduces blood sugar. The findings of Anderson's study also pointed to the potential role of cinnamon in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides.

Diabetes and Buckwheat
Cinnamon is not the only food showing promise in treating diabetes. Extracts from the buckwheat plant were recently shown to lower blood sugar levels, as well. The study, led by Dr. Carla G. Taylor, was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Results from the study showed that after ingesting buckwheat concentrate with a meal, rats with type-1 diabetes displayed up to a nineteen percent reduction in blood sugar levels.

Buckwheat contains high levels of the compound chiro-inositol, the component presumed to be responsible for the reduction in blood sugar levels. Scientists believe that chiro-inositol, abundant in buckwheat yet rarely found in other foods, may imitate insulin, contributing to the body's regulation of blood sugar.
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Last modified 18 September 2006
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