Desert Foods are Healthy Foods
Unlike modern processed foods which raise blood sugar quickly, most traditional desert foods digest slowly, releasing their energy into the bloodstream over hours, rather than minutes, giving the body steady energy. The pectins and complex carbohydrates that desert plants use to capture and store life-giving water are the same agents which make beans, mesquite, chia, nopalitos and prickly pear fruit effective regulators of blood sugar. These foods have been coined “slow release foods.” The slow release process protects diabetics from erratic blood sugar levels which stresses the pancreas and its insulin production. Eating these “slow-release” foods helps genetically susceptible populations control their metabolism, reducing the risk of developing diabetes and its negative side effects. Slow release foods can also increase endurance and prolong the feeling of fullness, preventing overeating.
These types of foods are rated low on the glycemic index, a measure of the effect of ingredients on blood sugar chemistry. It is recommended that diabetics and those at risk of diabetes eat foods low on the glycemic index. Raw sugar, for example, has a glycemic index value of 100, whereas mesquite flour has a value of 25 and tepary beans a value of 30.
The following are examples of desert foods that are beneficial for diabetics and those at risk for diabetes. They are considered “slow release” foods and are low on the glycemic index. This document is not intended to serve as a diagnosis or a treatment plan. It is recommended that you speak to a health professional if you are concerned about diabetes and discuss any changes to your diet with your doctor.