Written by Dr Eileen Canday
Beetroot is often dismissed as a seasonal food but it has multifarious uses, and unknown to many, can help people living with diabetes. It has an impressive nutritional profile as it is high in valuable vitamins and minerals. It is rich in folate, a nutrient important for heart health, growth and development. It is also a good source of manganese, which is involved in the production of insulin and helps remove sugar from your blood. Thus, it may help stabilise blood sugar levels. Nitrate, found in high concentrations in beets, may help reduce insulin resistance.
Beetroot is low in carbohydrates as compared to other root vegetables, making it a considerable option for diabetics. It is a good source of fibre which helps to increase satiety and slow down the absorption of carbohydrates preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. Combining beetroot with protein rich foods such as curd or pulses and healthy fats such as seeds can help reduce the glycaemic load of the meal.
This root vegetable is a good source of antioxidants, including compounds called betalains. These antioxidants may help reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity, which could be beneficial for individuals with diabetes. They may reduce oxidative stress and free radicals in the body. Fewer free radicals in the body mean a lower risk of diabetes complications such as retinopathy, kidney disease, neuropathy, diabetic foot disease and cardiovascular disease.
The only caveat? Have it in moderation, do not overdo it and definitely do not juice it.
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By consuming beetroot, diabetics can lower complications arising out of their condition like nerve and eye damage because of the presence of alpha-lipoic acid. Added benefits come in the form of beetroot increasing your haemoglobin levels. Betacyanin present in beets slows down the growth of tumours.
To get the most nutrients, enjoy raw beets or choose methods like roasting instead of boiling to preserve the water soluble nutrients. As with any food, it is important to consume beetroot in moderation and as part of a balanced diet to achieve the maximum benefits as excessive intake can lead to sudden blood sugar spikes.
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Beetroot is a delicious and a versatile vegetable, which is easy to include in your diet in various forms. Relish its flavour by adding to a hung curd dip or blend it with your regular hummus to give it a colourful twist. Enjoy healthy snacks like roasted beetroot chips or use in starters in the form of roasted and grilled beetroot sticks. Pickled beetroots can provide you with good probiotics to boost gut health. Its noodles and spaghetti are ideal for your low calorie meal options as they are not only delicious but also healthy as compared to the processed alternatives made out of maida. In addition to regular water, you may add antioxidant rich drinks like beetroot tomato soups, spiced beetroot buttermilk or beetroot-ginger shots to your diet for optimal hydration.
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