Sugar busters

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DURING the National Diabetes Conference in 2013, Obesity Prevention Council president Jong Koi Chong was quoted citing surveys that indicated 15.2% of adults in Malaysia are diabetic — a hike from 2006’s 8.6%. provides some natural ways to balance your blood sugar, which could be a matter of life or death. Chronic high blood sugar could destroy organs and blood vessels or pave the way to a heart attack, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, dialysis, nerve damage, erectile dysfunction, or even blindness, it wrote. But, out-of-control sugar levels can be reined in and regulated with the right foods.


Blue berries
Blood sugar benefit: A groundbreaking study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2010 found that a daily dose of the bioactive ingredients from blueberries increases sensitivity to insulin and may reduce the risk of developing diabetes in at-risk individuals. Adding blueberries to daily smoothies for six weeks also improves insulin sensitivity. 


Added perk: Low in naturally occurring sugars, blueberries are also bursting with antioxidants that fight damage from free radicals, accelerated ageing, and diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.


Blood sugar benefit: Avocados are full of monounsaturated fat, the kind that helps slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream, prompting less insulin release.


Added perk: Avocados contain beta-sitosterol, a compound that could help suppress inflammation after an intense workout. Just limit yourself to a quarter of an avocado at a time to avoid calorie overload. Or, try avocado oil instead. 


Chia seed
Blood sugar benefit: This gluten-free grain stabilises blood sugar, manages the effects of diabetes, improves insulin sensitivity and aids symptoms related to metabolic syndrome, including imbalances in cholesterol, higher blood pressure and extreme rises in blood sugar levels after meals. 


Added perk: Tiny chia seeds are potent anti-inflammatory agents and also tout fibre, magnesium, potassium, folic acid, iron, and calcium.


Mangos may taste sugary, but The Journal Nutrition and Metabolic Insights has indicated that daily consumption of 10g of freeze-dried mango — the equivalent to some 100g of fresh mango — may help lower blood sugar in obese individuals. 


Added perk: Mangos contain over 20 different vitamins and minerals including vitamins C and A, folate, and fibre. 


Olive Oil
Blood sugar benefit: Rich in monounsaturated fat, like avocados, and prevents not only belly fat accumulation, but also insulin resistance.


Added perk: Olive oil encourages the release of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin.


Blood sugar benefit: International Journal of Obesity researchers said eating eggs may control hunger by reducing the post-meal insulin response and control appetite by preventing large fluctuations in both glucose and insulin levels. 


Added perk: Studies show people who eat eggs for breakfast eat fewer calories for the entire day, as well as for the next 36 hours.


Blood sugar benefit: Vinegar has been found to dull blood sugar and insulin increases, as well as heighten the sensation of fullness after a high-carbohydrate meal. An Arizona State University study found people who started a meal with a vinegar drink enjoyed better blood sugar and insulin profiles following meals.


Added perk: The blood sugar balancing effect of vinegar seems to work even better in people with pre-diabetec symptoms compared to people with normal insulin sensitivity. Note that balsamic contains more sugar.


Blood sugar benefit: Cherries contain naturally occurring chemicals called anthocyanins, which could help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found anthocyanins could reduce insulin production by 50%.


Added perk: Anthocyanin-loaded cherries may also protect against heart disease and cancer.


This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 26, 2015.