Delicious, crisp romaine lettuce is a diabetic’s friend. Not only does it keep glucose levels “mellow,” it’s a tool in your heart-protecting arsenal. That’s important because most diabetics lose their lives to heart disease, the most common and serious diabetic complication.
Loaded with vitamin C, folic acid and lutein, romaine is a nutritious and tasty ally for diabetics.
1. Romaine is loaded with vitamin C, which keeps LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidizing. Oxidized LDL turns into sticky, artery-blocking plaque. Chunks of plaque can break off the artery wall and cause heart attacks or strokes. A 1995 review of the scientific literature documents the effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing LDL oxidation. In addition, vitamin C scavenges for free radicals that damage blood vessels, so you want plenty of it in your diet. Two cups of romaine contain almost 45% of your DV for vitamin C.
2. Romaine lowers blood pressure with folic acid. Romaine lettuce and other leafy greens are high in folic acid, a B vitamin that helps lower high blood pressure and prevent damage to blood vessels. In a study of more than 150,000 women, those who ate higher amounts of folic acid were able to significantly decrease their risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Two cups contain 38% of your DV for folate.
3. Hearts and eyes love lutein. Romaine, like its leafy green sibling spinach, is an excellent source of the antioxidant lutein. Lutein neutralizes oxidative damage done by free radicals and helps keep arteries free from plaque. According to a study published by the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, it also helps improve eye health. This is important for people with diabetes, who are at much greater risk for developing retinopathy, cataracts and macular degeneration.
5. Lettuce is not just for salads. You can replace bread or tortillas with romaine lettuce leaves to make a flour-free wrap. Or, add a hefty handful of lettuce leaves to your favorite smoothie, dramatically increasing its nutritional value and ramping up dietary fiber. Unless you are eating baby romaine, discard the outer leaves and check the tips of the inner leaves, as they can be bitter.
Always try to get locally grown greens because time and distance kill fragile nutrients. Local lettuce will taste better and help you heal your diabetes. Choose organic, as conventional produce not only harbors health-trashing pesticide residues–it also has lower levels of nutrients than organic produce.
Check out our diabetes-healing recipes at MyHealingKitchen.com.
I love our Romaine Salad with Red Wine Poached Pears and Cinnamon Pepitas. The pears and creamy gorgonzola (a kind of blue cheese) are a match made in heaven, and the crunchy romaine sets them off perfectly.