Add eggplant to your anti-diabetes arsenal to help keep blood sugar levels under control. Often brought on by excess weight, diabetes undermines insulin production, sending blood sugar soaring. This can triple levels of free radicals — unstable molecules which can wreak havoc on healthy cells — contributing to a variety of diabetic woes, ranging from kidney failure to heart disease and blindness.So how can eggplant help?

A study from the University of Massachusetts found that extracts from several eggplant varieties — purple, white and graffiti — inhibited an enzyme that converts starch to blood sugar. The eggplant compounds restrained the glucose-releasing enzyme by as much as 60%, and the effect correlated with antioxidant activity, which also helps squelch blood sugar-generated free radicals. Other ways to help manage — or even avoid — diabetes:

  • Avoid selenium supplements which might increase your risk of developing diabetes by 50%.
  • Get enough vitamin D from sunlight.
  • Eat plenty of spinach, cabbage and celery, top sources of vitamin K, which is linked to lower blood glucose levels.
  • Bring on the broccoli, whose compounds may help reduce diabetic damage.

Bonus: Japanese researchers found a compound in eggplant peels that could help halt cancer proliferation. Nasunin blocks the formation of blood vessels that feed malignant tumors, in this basic research.

Published July 1, 2009