Karen Chapman Novakovski - Associate Professor of Nutrition

About Diabetes
Food & Diabetes
Medications & Diabetes
Current Issue
En Español
Recommended Websites
Your Guide to Diet and Diabetes
Recipes for Diabetes
Fiesta of Flavors: Traditional Hispanic Recipes for People with Diabetes

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February/March 2010

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In This Issue

Diabetes - The Medical Perspective

Heart attack or stroke? People with diabetes are at increased risk for both of these types of heart disease.  Your heart is a muscle. A heart attack is when enough oxygen does not get to the heart and part of the muscle dies. Atherosclerosis causes a narrowing or blockage of arteries and can cause a heart attack.

Although chest pain is usually the main symptom, people with diabetes may feel little or no chest pain.  If pain is felt, it can range from a mild squeezing feeling to a tight band around the chest.  Other symptoms include anxiety, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, a rapidly beating heart, and sweating.

If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about a rapid response to possible heart attacks. The doctor may advise you to have aspirin with you and chew a dose as soon as symptoms occur.  Your doctor will know if aspirin will possible help but not harm you. If you are taking a sulphonylurea, taking aspirin may increase the risk of hypoglycemia.  Always call 911 or have someone call for you.

A stroke results from an interruption of blood to the brain.  This occurs because of a blockage by a clot or artery narrowing (similar to a heart attack), or because the blood vessel breaks open causing a leaking of blood out of the blood vessel.

The symptoms of stroke include sudden headaches, inability to understand others or talk, blurred vision and loss of alertness.  Quickly taking aspirin is not recommended. 

It is important to call 911 and get help as soon as possible.  Quick medical help may help lessen the severity of symptoms and hasten the return of brain function.  However, aspirin may be a preventive measure for some people.  Talk to your doctor to see if aspirin therapy is right for you.

Diabetes and Food

All healthy eating plans include fruit.  How many servings you need depends on your meal plan.  Although full of nutrients, fruit contains carbohydrates and calories, and are not “free foods” if you have diabetes.

Fruit has different amounts of calories, depending on the size of the fruit.  A small banana (less than 6 inches long) would equal one-half cup of fruit, while a large banana (8 to 9 inches long) would equal 1 cup. 

Fruit has different amounts of carbohydrates (and calories) depending on the amount of water the fruit holds. Grapefruit is very juicy and holds a lot of water.  One small grapefruit is about 18 grams of carbohydrates and 75 calories.  Grapes also are very juicy. Twenty grapes would equal the grapefruit, and so would the small banana.

Fresh, frozen and canned fruit are all good sources of potassium, folate and vitamin C.  Fresh fruits have the most fiber, canned and frozen fruits will also have some fiber.  Fruits with seeds are the best source of fiber in the fruits group, unless the skin is eaten.  Fruit juice has little or no fiber.  While fruit juice also has folate, vitamin C and potassium, it may not be as hunger-satisfying as whole fruit.  Fruit juice may also have sweeteners added, so some of the nutrient-richness of the fruit is gone.

Enjoy a variety of fruits to load up on the flavor and nutrients.  Fruits differ in the amount of nutrients they have.  Eating a wide variety helps you get all the nutrients you need.

Medication Update

Oral medications to treat diabetes include the class of medications called sulphonylureas (Glyuride, Diabeta, Glynase, Micronase).  These are normally bound to protein in the blood.  They work by stimulating insulin release from the pancreas.  Because they stimulate insulin release, these medication may cause low blood glucose (hypoglycemia).

When taken with other medications that also should be bound to protein, the risk of low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) is increased.  The other drugs that are bound to protein and may displace the sulphonylurea are aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) such as Celebrex, Motrin, and Aleve.

Recipes To Try

Zesty Turkey Burgers with Mushrooms
4 servings
Preparation & cooking time: 20 minutes

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon mango chutney
  • 6 mushrooms, slices
  • Pepper to taste
  • Dijon mustard, optional
  1. Mix together turkey, onions, chutney and pepper. Form 4 patties.
  2. Cook in a non-stick skillet 4 to 5 minutes on 1 side. Add sliced mushrooms and cook 4 to 5 minutes on other side.
  3. Serve on bun spread lightly with Dijon mustard

Nutrition facts per serving:
Calories 188                               
Fat 10 grams
Protein 21 grams                      
Calories from fat 48     
Carbohydrate 3 grams                         
Cholesterol 90 mg
Fiber 0 grams                        
Sodium 135 mg
0 carbohydrate units; 3 lean meat exchanges

Pork and Red Bean Stew
9 1-cup servings

Preparation & cooking time 2.5 hours

  • 1.5 pounds pork roast, cubed
  • 2 cups cubed sweet potato (1 medium potato)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1.5 cups red beans
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup frozen pepper strip
  • pepper to taste
  1. Rinse, drain, and simmer beans in water for 1 hour. Drain, reserving 4 cups of liquid.
  2. Brown pork in oil in large saucepan. Add reserved liquid and other ingredients. Simmer for 1 hour.

Nutrition facts per serving:
Calories 328
Fat 14 grams
Protein 22 grams
Calories from fat 38
Carbohydrate 29 grams
Cholesterol 54 mg
Fiber 9 grams
Sodium 57 mg

2 carbohydrate units; 2 starch, 3 meat exchanges

Menu Suggestions




1-½ cups  

Whole wheat toast

1 slice


1 teaspoon

Bananas, sliced

½ cup

Skim milk

8 ounces



474 calories, 82g carbohydrates, 5.5 carbohydrate choices



Zesty turkey burger




Cauliflower-potato soup

1 cup

Unsalted-tops saltines




591 calories, 78g carbohydrates, 5 carbohydrate choices




Thai broccoli beef stir fry

1 cup


1 cup

French bread

1 slice


1 teaspoon

Sliced peaches

1 cup

Skim milk

1 cup

666 calories, 97g carbohydrates, 6.5 carbohydrate choices

Total: 1731 calories, 257g carbohydrates,
17 carbohydrate choices

Meals may also include a calorie-free beverage (diet soda, tea, coffee, etc.).
Recipes found in this newsletter or on the website http://urbanext.illinois.edu/diabetes2/intro.cfm





About Diabetes | Food & Diabetes | Medications & Diabetes | Current Issue | Archive | En Español

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