Some of you (especially the older baby boomers) might remember “The Magnificent Seven”, a blockbuster western movie from 1960 featuring an incredible cast that included Yul Brenner, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, and Charles Bronson.
Well, this article is NOT about those Magnificent Seven. It’s about seven food items that are downright excellent and “magnificent” for your health, particularly if you’re someone dealing with low blood sugar symptoms or hypoglycemic symptoms. The characters in the movie were good guys, the items on this list are good foods. All seven of them.
Here they are, in all their glory, in alphabetical order:
Magnificent #1: Berries
Fruits, in general, have a high sugar (fructose) content, so if you’re just starting out on your hypoglycemic diet, you may want to limit the fruit you eat – avoid bananas, for instance.
The best fruit for someone dealing with low blood sugar, hypoglycemia, even hyperglycemia, is berries. Berries are lower in sugar and calories than many other fruits, and they’re packed with nutrients.
Take blueberries, for example. Many health benefits have been attributed to blueberries, and they’re also a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin E and antioxidants. Choose wild blueberries for even more antioxidants than cultivated blueberries provide.
Try blueberries on your cereal, in your yogurt, or blend some into your protein shake.
Magnificent #2: Eggplant
Yes, your mom was right! Eat your veggies for good health! And this one in particular: eggplant. We don’t all eat eggplant, but according to recent research, we probably should.
Purple-skinned eggplant is a good source of phenols, a nutrient that helps your body use sugar more efficiently. Phenols have also been found to help with high blood pressure, and provide antioxidant protection as well.
Try eggplant in Greek Moussaka, a tasty dip, or even Eggplant Lasagna!
Magnificent #3: Fiber
Low blood sugar and hypoglycemia expert Anita Flegg recommends you eat nine handfuls of fruit and veggies and one ounce of nuts every day. Eat only whole grain breads and cereals. These are all allowable hypoglycemia foods. The fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains all help you address one of the most important points of an hypoglycemia diet: Eating lots of fiber.
If you’re eating lots of vegetables, you’re getting good carbohydrates AND lots of vitamins and minerals. Best of all, vegetables are a great source of dietary fiber, especially if they’re raw or lightly steamed.
Dietary fiber is crucial to the hypoglycemia diet. Fiber slows down the absorption of sugars that are a part of all foods and reduces the possibility of a low blood sugar episode later on.
As an added benefit, having your fiber throughout the day means you’ll never be hungry, and it’ll be easier to stay away from sweets. And if you also find yourself losing a little weight, hey, even better!
As hypoglycemics, we should eat our meals – not drink them. Juicers were all the rage for a while, and they certainly had their value. People who would otherwise not eat enough fruits and vegetables to get their required vitamins were at least getting a vitamin boost.
While getting your vitamins is a great idea, juice isn’t the best way to get it. Whether you buy it or make it yourself, juice is a poor choice for hypoglycemics because processing has removed all of the fiber and some of the vitamins (some B vitamins are destroyed by processing).
Without the fiber to slow the sugar response, the natural sugars in both fruits and vegetables can cause a very fast sugar spike. For hypoglycemics, this is a major problem because of the symptoms related to both the sugar spike and the sugar crash that is sure to follow.
If you’re dealing with low blood sugar, hypoglycemia, even hyperglycemia, stick with fresh fruits and vegetables for quality vitamins and better sugar control.
Magnificent #4: Fish
Low blood sugar and hypoglycemia expert Anita Flegg also recommends you eat fish three times per week.
There are two kinds of fish: white fish and oily fish. Examples of white fish are cod, halibut and monk fish. White fish are a great low-calorie source of protein and there are dozens of tasty ways to prepare them.
Oily fish like salmon and mackerel are also tasty sources of protein, and although they’re not particularly low-cal, they have the added benefit of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids are great for improving and maintaining the health of your heart, and they’re great for your skin and hair, too. Keep in mind when you get ready to cook it that pan-frying and deep-frying fish, especially at high temperatures, appears to destroy the omega-3 fats.
So go ahead and choose fish. Bake, poach, grill or steam it. It’s delicious and a great source of protein that’ll help keep your blood sugar level steady and you feeling great.
FYI (while we’re talking about fish…) insulin resistance is part of the hypoglycemia problem in that your body has to produce more and more insulin over time to deal with the sugars in your diet. Reversing this is crucial to improving your sugar-handling, and reducing your hypoglycemia symptoms.
Now, did you know that taking fish oil (1000-4000 mg every day) not only lowers cholesterol and reduces inflammation, but also improves insulin sensitivity?
And if you just can’t eat enough fish, also add omega-3 fatty acids capsules.
Magnificent #5: Nuts
Go Nuts!… Recent research shows that eating nuts and nut butters at least 5 times a week can reduce your risk of developing Type II diabetes by 27%!
Why “go nuts?” Because they have the top three components to keep your blood sugar steady and improve your insulin sensitivity: protein, fiber, good fats.
It’s recommended to consume one ounce of nuts every day. Looking for ways to add nuts to your diet? Try some of these: add a handful of slivered almonds to your next stir-fry, take a small bag of pistachios or cashews to snack on at work, put peanut butter on your breakfast toast.
Magnificent #6: Rye
I talked about fiber earlier in this article, and new information about whole-grain rye should move it to the top of your list.
According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in December of 2005, when rye bread and pasta were compared to oat and wheat bread and potato, insulin secretion (an indication of the reduction of insulin resistance) increased six times more in the rye bread group than for the other two groups.
This result was supplemented in August of 2007 (Journal of the American Dietetic Association), when it was found that a rye pasta diet actually caused changes in genes linked with Type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome!
The key to understand here is that the biggest risk inherent in being hypoglycemic is that it increases your risk of getting Type II diabetes.
Because hypoglycemia progresses to insulin resistance, and from there to diabetes, it is important for hypoglycemics to maintain and shore up your insulin sensitivity as much as possible, and however you can.
In reactive hypoglycemia, you have too much insulin because of insulin resistance – it takes more and more insulin production to get the cells to respond. That’s when you get an avalanche of insulin that causes a hypoglycemic episode.
As this progresses and gets worse over the years, the risk of developing Type II diabetes goes up.
Whole-grain rye seems to make a difference in insulin sensitivity, so the studies seem to suggest that whole-grain rye products should be good for everyone who is insulin resistant, whether hypoglycemic or Type II diabetic.
Magnificent #7: Tomato
Eat 10 tablespoons of cooked tomato foods every week to get the anti-oxidant lycopene.
Oxidation is a natural process that causes your cells to age. Topping up on antioxidants like lycopene can slow cell aging and keep you feeling healthier.
Anything that helps your overall health will also help your hypoglycemia symptoms. Do your body a favor: add foods containing tomato to your diet.
Daniel G. St-Jean
Editor of Help For Hypoglycemia
Publisher of the Help For Hypoglycemia Blog
Daniel G. St-Jean is the Editor of Help For Hypoglycemia ( www.help-for-hypoglycemia.com ) where you’ll find much info on hypoglycemia diet, and he’s the publisher of the Help For Hypoglycemia Blog ( www.help-for-hypoglycemia-blog.com ), both helping people to deal with low blood sugar. Note: this article was inspired by Anita Flegg, author of Hypoglycemia: The Other Sugar Disease.