Welcome to the Superfood lifestyle

Dietitian, Mignon Jordaan, shares ways to incorporate superfood in to your diabetic menu plan. Plus, she shares two Superfood recipes.

Superfood is taking grocery stores by storm and consumers might not even understand the exact role or benefit it has in the body. It almost sounds like food that has superpowers, doesn’t it?

According to the WHO (World Health Organization), diabetes is one of the top three diseases causing early death due to uncontrolled high blood glucose levels. Uncontrolled Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes was shown, by scientific research, to increase the risk for oxidative stress and inflammation and can lead to detrimental conditions, such as heart diseases. So, does this mean as a diabetic patient you need to add Superfood to your grocery list?

What is Superfood?

Many know it as Functional foods, Organic foods or Power foods. Defined by Harvard School of Public Health as: a food that offers high levels of desirable nutrients; are linked to the prevention of a disease, or is believed to offer several simultaneous health benefits beyond its nutritional value.

However, there is currently no official definition of the word approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) according to the American Diabetes Association.

Personally, I recommend Superfoods to both Type 1 and 2 diabetes patients. All due to the natural existing ingredients that contain some diabetic-specific benefits like lowering your risk for macro-or microvascular complications.

How will Superfood benefit me as a diabetes patient?

Many internet sources have an ongoing list of health benefits such as:

  • Possible cancer prevention
  • Might reduce cardiovascular risk
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Possible anti-ageing effect
  • Might improve blood glucose levels

It seems quite impressive, but let’s have a closer look at a few popular Superfoods that we can consider adding to our grocery list and why.

Popular Superfoods to put in my trolley

  1. Super-fruit

Decide which of the following fruits you would enjoy, combine two-three of them together to increase the quality of nutrients per portion.

Super-fruit Benefits Recommended portion Examples
  • High in vitamin B
  • Might lower risk for heart diseases
  • Reduces oxidative stress
  • Can improve lipid profile and blood glucose levels
  • High in fibre
1 portion = 125g/½ cup

(15g carbohydrates)

175g Pot from Woolworths added in a salad, smoothie or cereal
Blueberries/ Raspberries
  • Low carbohydrate-containing fruit with high amounts of vitamin C
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Low in GI


1 portion= ¾ cup

(15g carbohydrates)

125g Pot blueberries at Woolworths to eat with plain yoghurt
  • High in vitamin C and soluble fibre
  • Low in GI
1 portion= 15 medium size strawberries

(15g carbohydrates)

300g Frozen strawberries to add in a smoothie or to flavour water
Goji berries
  • Boost immune system
  • Might improve blood glucose levels and cardiovascular disease in diabetes
  • Lower risk for cancer, especially colon cancer
  • High in vitamin A, B, C, E, iron, copper, selenium and zinc
  • High in fibre and low in GI
  • Also, high in an antioxidant, named beta carotene
1 portion= 40g/¼ cup

(18g carbohydrates)

Mixed in cereals, smoothies or casseroles

Alternative to raisins

  1. Super-vegetables

These are high in fibre, low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals, to add bulk to your meal or snack.

Super-veggies Benefits Recommended portion Examples
Broccoli sprouts
  • High in vitamins, like folate
  • High in minerals, like calcium
  • Might lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease
1-2 cups cooked per meal Mix into soups or casseroles

Steamed and added in salads

Added in smoothies, stir-fry’s or soups

  • High in vitamin E
  • High in minerals, like potassium and magnesium
  • Rich in carotenoids
1-2 cups cooked per meal
  • High in vitamin A
  • High in minerals, like calcium
  • Might lower the risk of cancer
  • High in fibre and help to control blood glucose levels
  • Might lower risk of heart disease
1-2 cups cooked per meal
  1. Super-nuts and seeds

Are high in unsaturated fat and are such a yummy snack to have during the day, or added to food for an extra crunch.

Super-nuts Benefits Recommended portion Examples
  • Rich in phytochemicals, fibre and protein
  • Rich in omega 3
1 portion= 2-4 tsp Mixed into smoothies, cereal, salads or soups
  • Rich in omega 3, vitamin B and E
1 portion= 3-6 nuts Mixed in salads or smoothies
Chia seeds
  • Rich in omega 3
  • High in fibre
  • High in antioxidants that can prevent cancer and delay ageing
  • Lower risk for heart disease
1 portion= 2-4 tsp Mixed into smoothies or soaked in oats
  1. Super-spices

These are high in antioxidants and other beneficial properties. To be added to dishes for an amazing aroma and flavour.

Super-spices Benefits Examples
  • May improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels in uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes*
  • Might improve cholesterol levels (especially LDL- ‘bad cholesterol’)**
  • May reduce risk of cancer
  • Might assist in fighting bacterial or fungal infections
Added to teas- e.g. like Chia cinnamon tea

Mixed into porridge like oats

Mixed into smoothies

Use as an ingredient to bake rusks, energy bars or biscuits (be careful as these items are usually high in GI, sugar or fat)

Turmeric (or known as Curcumin)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • High in minerals, such as iron
  • Can assist to fight or reduce risk of cancer
  • Might improve blood glucose levels and cholesterol levels
  • Might have anti-psychotic effect***
Ideal for a curry dish

Popular ingredient in the Afrikaans dish ‘Boboti’

Mixed into smoothies, stews, stir-fry’s, savoury rice or soups

Can be added to tea for taste

  • Antioxidant properties
  • Might assist to lower inflammation and risk for cardiovascular disease****
  • Possible preventative effect on diabetic nephropathy*****
Can be added to tea for taste

Added stewed apple or pear

Mixed into stews, stir-fry’s or soups

Used as a flavour for smoothies, fish or vegetables such as butternut

Used in diabetic friendly baking, such as biscuits, muffins or cakes (be careful as these items are usually high in GI, sugar or fat)

*See B.mang et al, **See Robert Allen et al 2013, ***See Hamidpour et al 2015, **** Mahmoud et al 2013*****Rafieian-Kopaei M et al.2013

Aim for balance

Superfood are sometimes seen as a ‘marketing strategy’. There is still research to be done to prove more significant health benefit, especially human studies.

At the end of the day, the definite fact of these Superfoods containing all these beneficial vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, are not to be doubted, and there is clear evidence to ensure the beneficial effects on your health.

As a person living with diabetes, you need to remember to always make sure you have a balanced diet with enough carbohydrates, lean protein and unsaturated fat to prevent any nutritional deficiencies and improve overall health.  There is no harm in incorporating all these Superfoods in your everyday life with the goal to identify the beneficial effect it has on your own body and to never compare your body’s response to someone else’s. Bring on the Superfoods!

Try Mignon’s delicious superfood recipes.

Superfood smoothie: Green vitamin booster

By Mignon Jordaan RDSA Serves 1 Ingredients 1 cup kale and cucumber 1 cup chopped

Goji berry pecan oats

By Mignon Jordaan RDSA Serves 1 Ingredients ¼ cup raw oats-soak in yoghurt overnight ¼/40g


Mignon Jordaan is a registered dietitian. Her hearts desire is to make a difference in people’s lives with her knowledge of nutrition. Being a Type 1 diabetes patient herself, she can walk the journey of “mindful eating” with her clients.

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