You heard right. According to a recent study out of Louisville Kentucky, if you struggle with high blood sugar levels, then raisins might be the answer you are looking for.
Dr. Harold Bays and his colleagues at the Louisville Metabolic Atherosclerosis Center (L-MARC) studied 46 men and women with a mean age of 61, none of whom had previously been diagnosed with diabetes. All of the participants did however have slightly elevated blood glucose levels. Half of the group were randomly assigned to snack on raisins while the other half was assigned to snack on pre-packaged commercial snacks not containing raisins or any other fruit. The participants were asked to consume their assigned snacks three times per day for 12 weeks.
The results of the study concluded that when compared to the control group, those that were given raisins saw a 16% reduction in mean post-meal glucose levels. The raisins also significantly reduced mean HbA1c, which is a marker for inflammation, by .12%.
What makes raisins such a special snack? The sweet treat has a low glycemic index, is high in potassium and contains fiber, phenolic acid, polyphenois, tannins and antioxidants. This mix makes for a perfect natural treatment for high glucose levels. So if are concerned that your blood sugar levels might be running a little high, try snacking on some tasty raisins. They may become your new best friend.
Everyone knows that America has a bit of a weight problem. In fact, we were recently found to officially have the highest obesity percentage in the world. Unfortunately, these statistics are carrying over to our youth. According to the American Obesity Association, nearly 31% of teenagers are overweight, while 15.5% are considered obese. This means that roughly 46% of American teens are at risk for developing health problems associated with being overweight., which is more than triple what it was in 1980.
Other than cardiovascular disease, one of the biggest health risks associated with teenage obesity is developing type 2 diabetes. This number is on the rise as well. Ten years ago, roughly 1 in 10 teenagers suffered from type 2 diabetes. Now it is nearly 1 in 4. This is especially worrisome, as it has been found that diabetes progresses faster in children and is harder to treat than in adults.
There are a number of factors that have contributed to this increase in diabetes and obesity cases in teens. They include (but are not limited to) an increased intake of junk food (sugary drinks, fast food, etc.) and increasingly sedentary lifestyle. It does not help that more and more schools are cutting programs like P.E. due to funding shortfalls.
But not all is lost. More and more parents are fighting to keep their kids from suffering the fate of being overweight or developing diabetes. A recent poll showed that 61% of parents were willing to change their habits to help their children avoid becoming obese. This can be a very effective way to reduce these numbers, as children tend to model their eating habits off of their parents’.
It is completely unrealistic to expect children to cut sweets and all sedentary activities all together. But try to limit them as best you can or change up what they do. For instance, some parents encourage their children to watch TV while on a treadmill or a stationary bike, and replacing sugary snacks with dried fruit or fruit leather. These are just a few ideas to help decrease your child’s risk of becoming obese or developing diabetes, as well as a myriad of other health issues associated with being overweight. Hopefully with techniques like these, parents will be able to bring those scary numbers back down to healthier levels, paving the way for a healthier population in the future.
When you look at your average day, what do you typically list as the highest priorities? If you’re like most Americans, the list is probably something like work, errands, maintaining the house, spending time with family and maybe catching your favorite show, right? While these are all extremely important things (well, almost all), where would you rate eating healthy among those items? Odds are, it’s pretty low on the list. Unfortunately, many people don’t feel that they have the time to cook a healthy meal, or that it is cheaper and easier to just pick up some fast food on the way home. This mindset is not only incorrect, but it can be downright dangerous. Eating healthy can be much easier and more affordable than you might think. It just requires a little forethought.
Eating a steady diet of unhealthy meals, be it from a fast food joint or a frozen meal from the store, can lead to some major health conditions down the road, including (but certainly not limited to) obesity, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. Some of these items can often end up costing more than a simple home cooked meal too. It’s a lose-lose situation. To avoid this, here are some tricks you can use to make eating healthier much more realistic:
- Planning Your Meals
- Preparing menus for the week with specific meals scheduled for each day helps to not only get your grocery shopping done all at once, but it helps to decrease spontaneous food choices, which more often than not are not very good for you. Obviously, when you plan your meals, try to keep them on the healthy side, and don’t “plan” for too many pizza nights.
- Prepare Your Meals Ahead of Time
- Many people are just too tired after a long day at work to come home and cook a meal. If this is the case for you, try preparing your meals ahead of time. Cook some of the week’s meals over the weekend and keep them in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to eat them. This makes for super easy dinners during the week, while still keeping them healthy. The same thing can be done with your snacks. Just cut up some fruits and veggies and keep them in a ziploc bag in the fridge for a ready-to-eat snack.
- Replace Unhealthy Favorites One at a Time
- Nobody is expecting you to jump right into the deep end on changing your diet. In fact, people who try to do this often find it too hard and too big of a change and revert back to eating their old unhealthy meals. If you try replacing just a few of the unhealthy choices at a time, it is usually much easier to maintain the practice.
- Avoid Ready-Made Foods
- Though they are tempting, these processed frozen meals are usually extremely high in sodium and other preservatives that can have detrimental effects on your body over time. Instead, try replacing them with their homemade equivalents. It is not only better for you, but more rewarding, and usually taste much better.
- Nobody Has to Cook Alone
- Try to make cooking meals a family event. Cooking with everyone can actually be quite fun and helps bond family members closer than ever. Assign each family member a particular task for each meal, such as peeling and chopping veggies, or shucking the corn or cooking the meat. If you break the meal down into having each person do a little something, it also goes much faster.
- Buy Produce While it is in Season
- Not only do fruits and veggies taste better when they are in season, they are also far more affordable. When you buy out of season, the produce needs to be shipped from other parts of the world, driving up the price and hurt the freshness. If you can, buy from your local grocers and/or farmers markets. It allows for the freshest produce, and helps your local economy.
Change can often be scary and difficult to commit to. Especially when it involves something as major as your diet. But hopefully with these tips, the change to a healthier you doesn’t have to be so scary. And we promise your body will thank you down the road .