November 14, 2021
Are you diabetic or at risk of becoming prediabetic? You might be feeling overwhelmed and confused about what to eat, but we are here to give you some ideas about foods that may increase blood sugar (like processed convenience foods) as well as foods that may help manage blood sugar (like fresh avocados). There is evidence that type 2 diabetes is controllable with proper nutrition and lifestyle changes.
This show is sponsored by Fresh Avocados – Love One Today® a leading source of the healthiest reasons and tastiest ways to enjoy fresh avocados. As a science-based resource, Love One Today® provides turnkey solutions that make it easy for consumers as well as health professionals to stay on top of the latest research related to avocados.
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TERESA: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition, the podcast created by Nutritional Weight and Wellness; a company focus on helping people feel better by eating real food. Today we’re going to focus on strategies to help control your blood sugar during the holiday season. Plus, we will go over some of the basics about type 2 diabetes, the potential role foods like fresh avocados can play in controlling blood sugar levels and easy tips to incorporate more avocados in your festive holiday plans. For those who are diabetic or have been cautioned by their doctor of being at risk or already prediabetic, it is especially important to be mindful of monitoring and managing blood glucose given all of the extra indulgent treats that come out at this time of year. It is always fun to do a show about how eating real foods can support long-term health by helping prevent or better manage a chronic disease like type 2 diabetes.
I am Teresa Wagner and with me in studio today is Leah Kleinschrodt who is also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. For years, both of us have been teaching and counseling our individual clients about the benefits of eating real food. So great to have you join me, Leah!
LEAH: Thank you Teresa! I’m very excited to be co-hosting this episode with you. Also, a big thank you to our sponsor for today’s show: Fresh Avocados – Love One Today, ® a leading source of the healthiest reasons and tastiest ways to enjoy fresh avocados. As a science-based resource, Love One Today® provides turnkey solutions that make it easy for consumers as well as health professionals to stay on top of the latest research related to avocados.
TERESA: Great, let’s dive in, shall we? Let’s start by talking about what it means to have high blood sugar and why is it important to keep in your target range? Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that acts like a key to let blood sugar into the cells in your body for use as energy. If you have type 2 diabetes, cells don’t respond normally to insulin; this is called insulin resistance. Your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get cells to respond. Eventually your pancreas can’t keep up, and your blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
When it comes to prediabetes, unfortunately, it’s actually really common in the U.S. More than 88 million adults have it, though more than 84% of them don’t know they do. The good news is that prediabetes can be reversed with achievable lifestyle changes.
Common symptoms ofhigh blood sugar include feeling very tired, feeling thirsty and having blurry vision, among other things that should not be ignored. If left untreated, high blood sugar can be damaging to the body and can cause other serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
LEAH: Yes, change can be tough but staying within target levels doesn’t have to be as difficult as you may think especially if you understand the role of good nutrition. Simply put, eating healthy foods in the right amounts at the right times can be a tool to help you ensure your blood sugar stays in your target range as much as possible. Yes, even during the holidays! We know the temptation to eat foods high in bad fats and added sugars during the holidays is especially stronger. However, there are strategies to enjoy treats and stay on track with nutrition.
One easy strategy can be incorporating more fresh avocados in your seasonal menu. For people with diabetes, you may already know it is important to limit foods containing bad fats and eat foods with good fats, like those found in avocados. But did you know, fiber can play a role in controlling blood sugar levels? This is because fiber slows down food digestion, which prevents rapid rises in blood glucose following a meal. Most people don’t get enough dietary fiber which is one more reason why we highlight good sources of fiber like fresh avocados.
TERESA: Yeah, that’s a little surprising. I would say most people think of avocados as a good fat. I have to say, this makes me love avocados even more! At Nutritional Weight & Wellness we love reading research. Here’s an interesting study I read on fresh avocados and the correlation between consumption and blood sugar levels. The study was published in the November 2013 issue of Nutrition Journal, titled: A Randomized 3x3 Crossover Study to Evaluate the Effect of Hass Avocado Intake on Post- Ingestive Satiety, Glucose and Insulin Levels, and Subsequent Energy Intake in Overweight Adults – wow, that was a mouthful of a title! This particular study was funded by the Avocado Nutrition Center. As with all research, the conclusions cannot be generalized to the larger population without further study, but the results support the growing body of evidence that avocados can have a positive effect on managing blood sugar levels.
LEAH: Because there can be misguided research, as dietitians, we look carefully at research to see if the findings support what we find when we are working with our clients every day. I am pleased to say that this research about the effectiveness of eating fresh avocados to support blood glucose control is consistent with the positive results we see when counseling clients in our nutritional practice of eating real food. Let me break down the research findings just a little bit further:
Results from a published study of 26 participants showed that when approximately one-half of a fresh avocado was added to a lunch consisting of a salad with Italian dressing, a baguette, and cookies, participants felt more satisfied and had less desire to eat following the meal. The participants also had a lower immediate rise in insulin levels than when the same lunch was eaten without the avocado; however, there was no significant difference in insulin levels over the three hours. Post-meal insulin levels were also blunted when participants replaced part of the Italian dressing and cookies in the lunch for one-half of an avocado, compared to when they ate the same lunch with no avocado.
In short, the people in the study who added ½ avocado at lunchtime found that they were more satisfied and less hungry in the afternoon compared with those who had no avocado at lunch. This study also found that when the study subjects added ½ avocado at lunch they had better blood sugar and insulin control 30 minutes after the meal compared to the subjects who did not add the avocado at lunch. That doesn’t mean we recommend eating a cookie and baguette as long as you have an avocado. A better plan would be to take the meat from the sandwich and add it to the salad and skip the cookie all together.
TERESA: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition, the podcast created by the nutritionists at Nutritional Weight and Wellness. Today we are discussing the role fresh avocados have on blood sugar control and how the fat and fiber in fresh avocados may help manage levels especially during the treat-filled holiday season.
LEAH: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I have worked in long-term care facilities and I have seen the results of poor blood sugar control. If your blood sugar numbers are in that prediabetic or diabetic range, let me suggest that you make at least monthly appointments with a Nutritional Weight and Wellness dietitian or nutritionist to learn how food affects blood sugar. Managing blood sugar numbers is a daily practice.
TERESA: So, we know this was a small study and cannot be generalized to all populations, but in our clinical experience, we see very similar results. I always inform my clients that one of the keys to long-term health is maintaining a normal blood sugar level. In doing so, it can also help improve your energy and mood, especially during this very busy time of the year.
LEAH: Exactly! I should also add that when it comes to managing glucose levels, another key element is satiety. This could help reduce the urge to mindlessly nibble on unhealthy foods often available during the holidays. Let’s get back to talking about fiber. Fiber plays an important role as this carbohydrate slows the speed of digestion, which makes you feel full and may help you eat less and stay satisfied longer. Just one-third of an avocado contains 3 grams of dietary fiber.
In addition to switching to real foods, here are other tips that can help you take control of your health. According to the CDC, doing things like: tracking your glucose levels after every meal to understand what makes them go up or down, not skipping any meals, limiting alcoholic drinks and controlling your food portions are also ways to manage your blood sugar levels.
TERESA: As dietitians and nutritionists, we understand that most people need weekly support to manage blood sugar, which is critical for good long-term health. There is always temptation at gatherings where sweet desserts and drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are ever-present and can potentially get you off track. Most people need help planning how they can enjoy these events without a blood sugar crisis. We are here to help you plan and carry out a strategy. After all, it is your health.
LEAH: Yes, planning a strategy is very important. So, when it comes to incorporating more nutritious ingredients into meals and snacks, my clients often feel a bit lost and overwhelmed with how to start. The good news is that it does not have to be so challenging.
For me personally, I have a busy morning with my 3-year-old and getting ready and off to start my day, so one very simple way to get avocado in for breakfast is to add half of an avocado to my morning smoothie and blend it in with the other ingredients. Adding that half of an avocado to my smoothie leaves me feeling satiated and more energetic for several hours in the morning. If you’re looking for smoothie recipes or new and fun recipes that include avocados, check out LoveOneToday.com. They have a ton of recipes to look through.
TERESA: Yes, I agree. My go-to during this very busy time of the year is an easy chicken salad with avocado slices for lunch. The avocado gives it great texture and help keep me full all afternoon. Or for a quick snack, I make my own guacamole by just using a fork to smash 2 ripe avocados, adding 2 tablespoons of minced red onions, 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice and ¼ teaspoon salt. And I have a delicious tasting guacamole; however, the trick for blood sugar control is to leave the chips and crackers at the store. Instead, I opt for sliced cucumbers and carrots and other raw veggies for dipping. I started my kids early with healthy eating, so as they grow older, they already favor healthy snacks.
LEAH: That all sounds delicious! The truth is there are many good options. As I think about all the holiday parties and family gatherings, perhaps this year rather than signing up to bring a plate of cookies, you can sign up to bring a bowl full of delicious guacamole to dip those healthy and tasty fresh vegetables in or bake a delicious treat made with fresh avocado – because, yes, you can even bake with avocado!
Another dish idea that you can bring to a party, or just have for yourself at home, is a dairy-free chocolate pudding. It’s easy to whip up. Just put two ripe avocados in a food processor with 1/8 cup of sweetener, like maple syrup, ½ cup of cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of organic coconut oil, just melted but not hot. And don’t forget a pinch of salt. Mix that in the food processor for 5-7 minutes until it turns into a smooth and creamy pudding. It’s delicious!
Others with blood sugar concerns will also thank you for bringing a “better-for-you” treat that delivers indulgence as well as nutrition when they test their blood sugar in the morning. It really is possible to celebrate and stay healthy throughout the holidays or on any occasion, for that matter.
TERESA: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. We are dishing up a lot of nutrition information today about the benefits of eating fresh avocados and how easy it can be to incorporate them into your holiday meal plans. How will you plan to add fresh avocado into your holiday menu?
LEAH: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. While we were preparing for this show, one of our dietitians told me that she had never seen or bought or tasted an avocado until she was in college studying dietetics. Needless to say, at that time in her life, she certainly had no idea how to prep and use an avocado in a meal. After hearing her avocado story, I thought many of you may also need a quick lesson on how to prep an avocado before using it. After washing an avocado, cut it in half lengthwise around the pit, twist the 2 halves apart to open it, remove the pit or stone with a large spoon, then carefully run your spoon around the edge of the avocado and scoop out the yumminess of the avocado.
TERESA: You know Leah, this gets me thinking about some of the common questions I get from my clients pertaining to avocados. One of them is – how do a select the right avocado? Here is the quick guide: If an avocado is ripe, a dark green to black color of the skin is usually the indicator. Also, a ripe avocado will have bumpy skin and when you hold it with one hand and add gentle pressure with your fingers, it will form to the palm of your hand. If the avocado feels “mushy’ to the touch, it means it is overripe and not one you want to buy. If an avocado is not quite ripe but will be ripe in about 4 or 5 days, the skin of the avocado is green, the skin is smooth and is firm when light pressure is applied. The general rule of thumb is if an avocado is not too firm and not too mushy, then it is most likely just right.
Another common question I hear: how should I store avocados once I’ve cut them open? To store your avocados properly the key is to keep the oxygen away from the avocado. One way is to squeeze some lemon or lime juice on the outer surface of the avocado, then tightly wrap plastic wrap over the surface of the avocado and put it in an airtight. This will help it from turning brown. Honestly, I don’t usually have that issue because I eat them up before they have a chance to go brown. They’re so tasty and I can use them in so many ways.
LEAH: Thanks for sharing, Teresa. These tips are so helpful. I stock up on them and I encourage our listeners to do that same; especially, for those monitoring their blood sugar levels to use them as part of your strategy to help keep in control of your health during the holiday temptations.
TERESA: I hope you are enjoying learning about the easy ways you can incorporate more fresh avocados in your holiday plans. We hope the research as well as how-to tips, as well as actionable culinary tricks encourage you to try some new avocado recipes.
LEAH: Thank you for tuning in today to learn more about the benefits and power of eating real food. Today we discussed the importance of nutrition in helping you maintain good blood sugar control around the temptation-filled holiday season. Now we recommend you take this great information and put it to use, so you can see for yourself all the health benefits that healthy foods like avocados have for you.
TERESA: Our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It’s a simple, yet powerful message. Eating real food IS life changing. Thank you for joining us today!
LEAH: Thank you and have a wonderful day!