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Nutrition facts for diabetics

Published:Thursday | September 6, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Fish, chicken and beef are good sources of chromium. - Ian Allen/Staff Photographer

Heather Little-White, PhD, Contributor

Several diabetics try to manage their diets by controlling their carbohydrate and fat intake. However, they fail to take minerals and vitamins to further regulate their blood glucose levels.

One very important trace mineral in diabetes management is chromium. This mineral functions as the glucose-tolerance factor critical to stabilising blood sugar through proper utilisation of insulin.

When there is a lack of chromium, blood sugar levels rise and manifest as serious diabetes symptoms such as fatigue, excessive thirst, frequent urination and a ravenous appetite. Chromium supplementation can improve insulin insensitivity making it work more efficiently to promote the absorption and utilisation of glucose in the cells.

When you are deficient in chromium, you will experience anxiety, feel fatigued and you will also experience glucose intolerance. There is the likelihood of an increased risk of arteriosclerosis and inadequate metabolism of amino acids.


Insulin insensitivity is common to diabetes and chromium helps with glucose control, but you must get a prescription from your doctor as you may purchase over-the-counter chromium-enriched brewer's yeast which will negatively affect blood glucose and insulin levels. Chromium should be taken in the form of chromium picolinate. Picolinate allows chromium to readily enter the body's cells and more effectively regulate insulin. When using chromium, blood sugar levels have to be carefully monitored.

While chromium picolinate promotes the burning of fat by the body, you must also plan to lose weight if you are overweight. It means increasing the percentage of muscle to improve glucose tolerance. In addition, total cholesterol has to decrease as well as total body fat. Achieving ideal body weight can help restore blood-sugar levels to normalcy. A supervised exercise programme is recommended for half an hour at least three times a week.

Daily requirement suggested for chromium is 200 micrograms. Your diet could be chromium deficient as the form of chromium in many foods is not easily absorbed. Chromium is also lost during the processing of foods and, if you consume large portions of sugar, you will lose some chromium. The soil and water supply do not carry high levels of chromium. You have to be careful of the foods you eat as the Western diet to which you are accustomed is loaded with white flour, white sugar, fats and other 'junk' substances that are not good for your health. In addition, some of the foods containing chromium may not be your favourite, so they are consumed less.

Among the food sources of chromium are:




Cow's liver

Green peppers


Brewer's yeast

Whole grains

Dried beans

Blackstrap molasses



Corn and corn oil



Chromium is found in herbs like licorice, red clover, sarsaparilla, wild yam and catnip.

Pasta, chicken and mushrooms


4lbs chicken

6tbs butter

1 cup clear chicken broth

1/4 cupdry white wine

Salt and pepper to taste

8oz thin spaghetti

1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced

5tbs flour

2 cups milk

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan


1. Steam chicken and cut in one-inch cubes.

2. Sauté mushrooms in two tablespoons of the butter; add to chicken.

3.Make a white sauce of the remaining four tablespoons of butter, flour, broth, and half and half; stir in vermouth and quarter cup of the Parmesan.

4.Add chicken-mushroom mixture and heat. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions and drain.

5.Pour chicken-mushroom sauce over spaghetti and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.

6. Serve very hot with a fresh garden salad.

Makes 6 servings.