Sunday, March 21, 2010

Prediabetes, weight loss and fruits & vegetables

Here is a question I recently received from FOODPICKER.org:

Bob R.: I have pre-diabetes and am trying to lose weight.  How many servings of fruit and veggies should I have each day?

Answer: Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. It's great that you have already decided to take the first step to better health! According to the American Diabetes Association losing as little as 5-10% of your body weight (approximately 10-15lbs), along with engaging in regular activity, may help you delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

In general, adults should consume about 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit everyday.  But what counts as a cup? This may be confusing. In general, 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or 2 cups of raw leafy greens should be considered 1 cup of vegetables. For fruits, 1 cup of chopped fruit or ½ cup of dried fruit can be considered 1 cup. Here is a handy vegetable chart and a handy fruit chart from MyPyramid.gov that should help clear things up a bit.

You'll notice that both vegetable juices and fruit juices are also on the MyPyramid charts. In terms of watching your blood glucose levels, juices have two major strikes against them: they contain little to no fiber, and are a concentrated source of sugars. Drink juices in moderation! Also be sure to look out for starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn and peas. Starchy vegetables are much higher in carbohydrate than their non-starchy or cruciferous counterparts. Go for vegetables like broccoli, kale, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, bok choy and bell peppers. Check out http://www.choosemyplate.gov/  for menu planning tips and to track and assess your food intake. Also visit FruitsandVeggiesMoreMatters.org for recipe ideas.

Don't forget that regular, moderate exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. You don't have to join a gym - try walking for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. It will make a difference.

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