Carolinas HealthCare System
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6 Super Veggies to Plant in Your Spring Garden

Take the Test, Know Your Score!Deciding what to plant in a vegetable garden is a veritable feast for the mind – if you love a certain vegetable, then why not give it a spot in your plot?

But people with diabetes may want to be a little more strategic about choosing the varieties of vegetables they devote to soil and toil. Research has shown certain vegetables are among diabetes “superfoods,” a group of foods that can either help reverse the risk of developing diabetes or help control blood sugar levels among those with the disease.

What Makes a Superfood 'Super?'

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes superfoods have a low glycemic index (or GI), which means they raise blood sugar levels more slowly than foods with a higher GI. These foods also provide key nutrients such as calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium and vitamins A, C and E. Non-starchy vegetables stand out, since they’re among the few foods that people with diabetes can consume in large amounts without worries of overindulgence.

Of course, how well any given vegetable grows in your garden depends on the region in which you live, as well as how much sunlight and rainfall your area receives.

With that in mind, here are six vegetables Carolinians should consider planting in a spring garden:

  1. Tomatoes: Nutritious whether cooked or raw, tomatoes are cited by the American Diabetes Association as one of the foods diabetes patients can eat more of to satisfy appetite. Researchers have suggested eating tomatoes – a good source of lycopene –may reduce cancer risk and help lower cardiovascular risks linked with Type 2 diabetes.
  2. Beans: High in fiber and protein, beans are considered starchy vegetables, but their low GI scores make them great for people with diabetes. A small study published in JAMA Internal Medicine indicated beans may help lower glycemic levels in those with Type 2 diabetes, as well as lowering their risk of heart disease.
  3. Kale or Swiss chard: Leafy greens are non-starchy vegetables with low GI scores, and kale – providing more than 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamins A and K – offers the added benefit of being rich in potassium, which has been shown to lower high blood pressure.
  4. Sweet potatoes: With a single serving of sweet potato providing 7 grams of fiber, along with iron, calcium and vitamins A and C, this scrumptious veggie also satisfies a sweet tooth and can be cooked in a variety of dishes. Though starchy, sweet potatoes are a lower-GI score alternative to white potatoes.
  5. Beets: The beet is perhaps an unsung hero among root vegetables. It’s rich in the antioxidant lipoic acid, which the American Diabetes Association indicates has been shown to help heal nerve damage in people with diabetes. Beets are also high in potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorous and iron.
  6. Cucumbers: With a higher water content than watermelon, cucumbers offer a refreshing crunch, along with rich amounts of vitamin K, potassium and manganese.