Almost anyone with diabetes could tell you that eating your veggies is essential. Though they’re a source of carbohydrates, vegetables also come packed with the nutrients and fiber you need for successful diabetes management. And while you should eat balanced amounts of many different foods to keep your diabetes in check, fresh produce is the cornerstone of a healthy diabetes diet.
What you might not know is that one of the best “vegetables” for diabetes technically isn’t a vegetable at all! Though they often get classified as veggies for culinary purposes, mushrooms are actually considered fungi. But don’t let that discourage you – after all, these savory morsels could be just what your diabetes management strategy needs. Read on to learn how mushrooms can help you control diabetes and how you can add them to your diabetes diet.
The Health Benefits of Mushrooms
Do you prefer the meat-like texture of Portabella mushrooms, the relatively small size of white button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms or Asian cuisine made with shiitake mushrooms? No matter what your favorite mushroom is, we have good news: all edible mushrooms offer similar nutritional benefits.
When you eat a cup of raw mushrooms, you’ll get just one gram of sugar and two grams of carbs – not to mention zero grams of fat. At the same time, mushrooms are highly nutritious and a good source of antioxidants.. The serving listed above contains 22 percent of your daily value of vitamin B2, 16 percent of your daily value of vitamin B3, and 12 percent of your daily value of selenium. Mushrooms contain other minerals like potassium, copper, iron and phosphorus.
Why Make Mushrooms Part of Your Diabetes Diet?
No matter who you are, mushrooms can be a delicious, nutritious addition to your diet. That said, they have quite a few diabetes-specific benefits, including:
Low Glycemic Index/Glycemic Load
The glycemic index and glycemic load systems are slightly different. Still, they both have the end goal of helping people understand how foods can affect their blood sugar. No matter which method you prefer, you’ll find that mushrooms will have a minimal impact on your glucose levels. Their glycemic index of 10-15 is considered “low,” while a one-cup serving has a glycemic load of less than 1.
Potential Anti-Diabetic Properties
As if that’s not enough, mushrooms are rich in compounds known as polysaccharides. Early research focusing on animals that have type 2 diabetes suggests that these compounds could possibly fight diabetes by:
- Reducing blood sugar
- Limiting damage to pancreatic tissues
- Cutting down on blood cholesterol
- Boosting resistance to insulin
Reduced Risk of Dementia
People with diabetes have a heightened dementia risk, as there’s a correlation between high blood sugar and Alzheimer’s disease. Luckily, the B vitamins found in mushrooms like riboflavin, folate, thiamine, pantothenic acid and niacin may reduce the risk of cognitive decline in older adults.
Protection from Gestational Diabetes
Maybe you don’t have diabetes right now but are planning to get pregnant and want to avoid gestational diabetes. In that case, mushrooms can still help! A diet rich in mushrooms, other veggies, and more foods packed with vitamins could lower your likelihood of developing gestational diabetes.
Easy Ways to Eat More Mushrooms
Are you wondering how to start eating more mushrooms? Here are a few quick ideas:
- Try eating them raw! If you truly want to savor the flavor of mushrooms, it’s hard to beat making them the main event.
- Mix them into other foods! Mushrooms can enhance everything from casseroles to soups, salads, in a stir-fry and much more.
- Eat them for breakfast! Place sautéed mushrooms on top of your whole grain cheese toast or add them to an omelet.
- Use them as a topping! Pizza with mushrooms is a classic, but mushrooms also go great with hamburgers and steaks.
- Go meatless! Instead of topping your next burger with mushrooms, why not cut out the middleman? Portabella mushrooms make a great stand-in for beef patties. This is a great lower calorie, fat and cholesterol option! (One caveat: since mushrooms aren’t very high in protein, be sure to eat other plant-based proteins, too!)
- Tour the world from your dinner table! Shiitake mushrooms are a vital part of many Asian cuisines. The next time you order Chinese food or make your own, be sure to include these mushrooms in your meal!
Regardless of how you choose to enjoy eating mushrooms, your diabetes management strategy shouldn’t just focus on your diet. You’ll also need to get regular exercise, check your blood sugar regularly, and find a reliable source of diabetes supplies. ADS can help you with the latter point – we offer insulin pumps, glucose meters, and much more!