Onions are one of the top food sources of a very tiny trace mineral named chromium. Despite the small size, chromium can have a big impact on your blood glucose levels. Researchers find that chromium helps you use insulin more efficiently, maintains steady blood sugar levels and reduces the need for diabetes drugs.
1. Sufficient chromium is absolutely essential for diabetics.That’s because a simple chromium deficiency can cause diabetes. This was documented by a study in Diabetes Care. In some ways, this is not a surprise: the symptoms of chromium deficiency (such as out-of-control levels of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, and high cholesterol) resemble those of prediabetes.
2. Getting enough chromium in our diets can be difficult. Chromium is found naturally in foods such as onions, romaine lettuce, shellfish, broccoli, whole grains, and brewer’s yeast. However, only a few foods contain more than 1 or 2 micrograms (mcg) of chromium per serving, making it a challenge to get enough from your food.
2. High sugar diets steal chromium from us.When we include sugars and refined carbs in our diets, the challenge of getting enough chromium becomes an utter impossibility. According to a study published in Metabolism, these foods cause us to excrete significant amounts of chromium in our urine. This leaves the people who need it most (diabetics and those with blood sugar irregularities) with the lowest levels.
Chromium excretion explains why so many Americans and Canadians are chromium-deficient. Some researchers believe a whopping 90% us lack adequate chromium. This may also explain why Type 2 diabetes is becoming a virtual epidemic in the US.
4. Chromium makes insulin work better. A recent study published in Biochemistry shows that chromium is an insulin potentiator. It makes your insulin more effective. For people with insulin resistance or full-blown diabetes, this is golden. It means you won’t need as much of your body’s own insulin to normalize your blood sugar levels.
5. Chromium helps reverse diabetes. A key to healing diabetes is the stabilization of blood sugar. Many studies show chromium achieves this and more. In one study, 78 people with Type 2 diabetes were given chromium supplements and brewers yeast containing chromium. Two months later, subjects responded to both supplements with lower fasting and post-meal glucose levels as well as lower triglyceride levels and higher HDL or “good” cholesterol levels. (That means chromium was also protecting the heart.) Drug dosages decreased slightly, with some participants going off insulin completely.
6. Load up on onions. One cup of raw onion (about ½ cup cooked onion) gives you 24mcg of the government’s “adequate intake” recommendation of 25 – 35mcg of chromium. But we suspect that recommendation may be low. Anywhere from 150 – 1000 mcg of chromium supplements (which tend to be less bio-available than the chromium in food) have been necessary to reverse diabetic symptoms. So sauté up a big batch of onions, add some garlic and herbs, and throw them on salads, toss them in soups, and eat those onions on grass-fed burgers. Try to get at least two onion servings into your diet every day. Romaine, tomatoes and broccoli are the other big sources of chromium, so add them to your salads as well.
Check out our diabetes-healing onion recipes at myhealingkitchen.com.
We’re especially fond of Onion Tomato Relish, which we love to spread on almost everything else we eat.
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