Beetroot, a vibrant root vegetable, has long been celebrated for its numerous health benefits. However, for individuals managing diabetes, concerns often arise about its impact on blood sugar levels. Let’s delve into the science to uncover whether beetroot is a safe addition to the diet for those with diabetes.
We asked our expert Ritika Samaddar, Regional Head – South Zone, Nutrition and Dietetics, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, to answer the same. Here is what she shared with us.
Understanding the Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL)
Firstly, it’s essential to understand the glycemic index (GI) of beetroot, which falls within the medium range, typically ranging between 61 to 64. Foods with a GI between 55 to 70 are considered medium on the glycemic index scale. However, the GI alone doesn’t provide a complete picture of how a food affects blood sugar levels.
The glycemic load (GL) of a food, which considers both the quantity and quality of carbohydrates consumed, is a more accurate indicator of its impact on blood sugar. Despite its medium GI, the GL of one serving of beetroot is only 9, which is considered low. This indicates that beetroot is unlikely to cause a significant spike in blood sugar levels when consumed in moderation.
Impact of Beetroot on Blood Sugar Levels
Moreover, beetroot boasts an array of health-promoting compounds. It is rich in nitrates, which have been shown to support cardiovascular health by aiding in blood pressure regulation. Additionally, beetroot is loaded with antioxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols, which help combat oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
For individuals with diabetes, incorporating beetroot into their diet can offer several benefits. Its fibre content aids in digestion and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Furthermore, beetroot’s folate and beta-carotene content contribute to overall health and well-being.
Incorporating Beetroot into a Diabetic Diet
Beetroot can be enjoyed in various ways, whether cooked as a vegetable, incorporated into salads, or consumed as a juice. However, it’s important to note that consuming beetroot juice may provide more sugar and less fibre compared to eating the whole vegetable. Hence, moderation is key, particularly for individuals with diabetes.
Additionally, don’t overlook the nutritional value of beetroot greens. These leafy greens are not only delicious but also packed with fibre and nutrients, making them a valuable addition to the diet.
Caution for Individuals with Chronic Kidney Disease
While beetroot is generally safe for most individuals, those with chronic kidney disease should exercise caution due to its high potassium content, which can potentially strain compromised kidneys.
In conclusion, beetroot can be a nutritious and flavorful addition to the diet of individuals with diabetes. Its low glycemic load, coupled with its abundance of health-promoting compounds, makes it a valuable vegetable for supporting overall health and well-being. As with any dietary choice, moderation and individual considerations are key to optimising health outcomes.