According to the American Diabetes Association, $245 billion health care dollars were spent on diagnosed diabetes in the United States last year. That's enough to buy about 62,500,000,000 pounds of spinach! Why spinach?
The majority of research that studies the link between diet and diabetes has focused on fiber and carbohydrate intake. Recently, however, a significant amount of research centers its attention on the roles of fruits and vegetables in preventing chronic diseases, including diabetes. The significantly large antioxidant content in leafy green vegetables, such as vitamin C, polyphenols, and beta-carotene, is thought to be the reason why they are effective in reducing risk of chronic disease.
Leafy greens are also high in magnesium. A recent meta-analysis published in the Journal of Internal Medicine revealed that an increased intake of magnesium is effective in reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes.
Green leafy vegetables are also high in an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. Current research in diabetes is focusing on the benefits these fatty acids offer because they are an important component of the outer membrane of our cells, which is where insulin does a lot of its work.
A meta-analysis of six different research studies that focused on fruits and vegetables as fighters against diabetes reported that if a person simply increases his green leafy vegetable intake by only 1 serving a day, the risk for developing type 2 diabetes drops by 14%.
In other words, a fistful of green veggies a day will help keep diabetes away. One simple serving of green-leafy vegetables is equal to 1 cup of raw or ½ cup of cooked vegetables. A simple way to visualize what 1 cup of raw vegetables looks like is to imagine a baseball or fist. Can you incorporate an extra serving of dark, leafy-green vegetables into your daily diet?
At first glance, a daily serving of leafy greens may seem boring. However, the large variety of leafy greens available gives you the freedom to get creative, mix them up, and to explore the subtle differences found in each variety. Some of the leafy greens included in the research studies include spinach, kale, lettuce, Chinese greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower.
One of the easiest ways to sneak more greens into your diet is to drink them! EnergyFirst's Green Drink packs the benefits of 5-7 servings of veggies into one little scoop.
Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus: systematic review and meta-analysis, by Patrice Carter and colleagues. British Medical Journal 341:c4229, 2010
Larsson SC, Wolk A. Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. J Intern Med2007;262:208-14.