RadicchioAt its recent annual meeting, the American Diabetes Association estimated that more than 85 million Americans have prediabetes, and that without medical reimbursement for nutrition education most of them will develop Type 2 diabetes.

Major causes of prediabetes are an increased body mass index, or BMI, and the consumption of foods and drinks that have been sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. To reduce the epidemic of diabetes, Americans need more vegetables and healthy fats in their diet. Nutrition education and menu planning could help with that.

As a person’s blood glucose rises, metformin often is prescribed for blood glucose control. People who take metformin have been shown to have malabsorption of vitamin B-12, which ultimately can lead to diabetic neuropathy. In the journal Clinical Diabetes, Dr. M.J. Zdilla indicates that a B-12 deficiency from metformin use can be corrected by supplementation and the use of other oral therapies. At greatest risk is the person who takes metformin for blood glucose control and proton pump inhibitors for gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.

When I mentioned this research to a group of people with Type 2 diabetes, and we discussed diet, they were quick to tell me how boring salads can be. After listing at least 20 foods that could be made into a salad, I described how salad ingredients also can be grilled or roasted. Suddenly everyone was more attentive. Radicchio, or Italian chicory, for example, brings color, spice and crunch to any meal.

Radicchio is a unique red vegetable with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals comparable to those in blueberries, minus the sugar. The red color comes from anthocyanidins, flavonoids important for collagen production in blood, soft tissues and ligaments. Anthocyanidins are important for skin and protection of all cells from free radical damage.

Adding a red vegetable to the diet of people with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes increases health benefits without any added sugar.

Betty Wedman-St Louis is a licensed nutritionist and environmental health specialist in Pinellas County who has written numerous books on health and nutrition. Visit her website at betty-wedman-stlouis.com.

Roasted Radicchio

1 head radicchio
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegar
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cut head of radicchio in half and cut each half into 2 wedges, keeping core attached. Place on baking pan. Drizzle on olive oil and thyme. Roast in 400-degree preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until tender. Arrange radicchio on plate. Drizzle with vinegar and sprinkle on Parmesan cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 44 calories, 2g protein, 6g carbohydrates, 6g fat, 56mg sodium.