When you have diabetes, the goal of your diet is to keep your blood sugar in check and your weight controlled. That means consuming lots of lean protein, whole grains, non-starchy vegetables and fruits. But it’s also important to include foods that are rich in calcium. Research suggests that calcium not only offsets the risk for osteoporosis, which is associated with diabetes, but it may also help halt progression of the disease in those who have been diagnosed.
Studies have found that supplementation of both calcium and vitamin D have been shown to be beneficial in optimizing glucose metabolism. That’s crucial when you have diabetes, which is marked by insulin resistance — a condition that prevents glucose from reaching cells for energy or from being stored for later use, resulting in an accumulation of that glucose in the bloodstream. A study published in PLOS One concurs; suggesting that daily supplementation with both calcium and vitamin D over a six-month period may help improve insulin sensitivity in those with prediabetes.
The potential benefits of calcium-rich food for diabetes don’t end there. Calcium may also benefit individuals with prediabetes, the precursor to the full-blown form of the disease, as well as people who are at risk for prediabetes based on their family history, diet and lifestyle, or ethnicity. Observational studies have shown an association between low vitamin D status, calcium intake, and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
The benefits of calcium on bone health for people with diabetes should be not overlooked either. Having either type 1 or type 2 diabetes has been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by low bone density, as well as bone fractures. A review published in Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews found that people with diabetes were more likely to suffer from fractures of the hip, foot, and spine than individuals without diabetes. This increased risk provides more evidence for increasing your intake of calcium-rich foods when you have diabetes.
If you’re looking to add more calcium rich foods to your diabetic diet, try these:
- Calcium-fortified Cereal –Start your day right with a double shot of calcium. Choose a calcium-fortified cereal that is high in fiber and low in sugar, and then add milk.
- Edamame –This Asian soybean is packed with calcium – 197 mg in just half a cup. You can find fresh or frozen edamame now at most grocery stores. Boil fresh whole edamame pods in lightly salted water or microwave frozen edamame and sprinkle with a small amount of sesame oil.
- Dark Leafy Greens –Change up your salad greens from iceberg to one of many dark leafy greens. Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard, Mustard Greens and Bok Choy are just a few. One cup of Collard Greens provides 256 mg of calcium.
- Yogurt –High in protein and healthy gut bacteria, yogurt offers 400 mg of calcium in just an 8-ounce serving. Choose a Greek variety for an extra protein boost.
- Milk Alternatives –People with lactose intolerance often have trouble digesting dairy, and have to miss out on a major source of calcium. Instead opt for enriched soymilk or almond milk instead- 300 mg of calcium in one cup.