Add color and nutrition to your charcuterie boards this holiday season with these diabetes friendly pairings featuring blueberries.
Charcuterie board season is in full swing as the holidays approach. It’s truly not a get together without a snack board on the island for people to gather around and munch on! It’s no surprise that in recent years these boards have exploded in popularity because they’re super fun to make, beautiful to look at and the possibilities for building them is endless.
November is American Diabetes Month and I’m excited to partner with the U.S Highbush Blueberry Council to chat about why blueberries should be a part of your holiday boards this season and your diet year-round.
During this festive time of year, I challenge you to create not just a charcuterie board, but a balanced charcuterie board that contains a variety of fruit, like blueberries, sources of protein, healthy fat and fun finger foods you enjoy most.
Blueberries are a fridge staple for me and an ingredient I recommend everyone has on hand because they’re versatile and easy to incorporate into your diet in different ways, especially if you have diabetes. From simply grabbing a handful, to adding them to smoothies, salads, or on top of oatmeal, there’s no wrong way to enjoy a boost of blue. Fresh or frozen, you can’t go wrong!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34.2 million Americans (10.5% of the U.S. population) have diabetes and 88 million people aged 18+ years have prediabetes.1
Approximately 90-95% of those with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body’s cells do not respond to insulin, the hormone produced in the pancreas which helps blood sugar enter the cells. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing in the U.S. population. As a result of aging, risk factors such as physical inactivity and a high prevalence of overweight and obesity, increase.2
Blueberries & Diabetes Management
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) notes that fruit can fit into a diabetes friendly meal plan, help to satisfy a sweet tooth and provide extra nutrition. Blueberries are just that – a great way to add natural sweetness to your favorite foods! Not only can they help satisfy your sweet tooth, but they provide the added benefit of essential nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, manganese and vitamin K.3 In fact, including blueberries in your diet may offer health benefits and help manage diabetes.4
Scientific evidence supports the role blueberries play in diabetes management, from helping to improve metabolic syndrome risk factors like cholesterol and blood pressure to helping to modestly lower hemoglobin A1C (average blood sugar level over three months) as a good source of fiber. Importantly, the science to date suggests dietary changes are an effective and low-cost way to improve blood sugar levels, manage weight, and reduce cardiovascular risk factors for people with diabetes.4-6
Balanced Pairings with Blueberries
One serving or a cup of blueberries is considered a serving of fruit, and contributes essential nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and phytonutrients called polyphenols to your diet. They also contain anthocyanins, which are compounds that give blueberries their blue color.
Pairing blueberries with a source of healthy fat and/or protein is the formula for a satisfying snack and ensures that your blood sugar stays balanced. Here are a couple ideas for blueberry combos this holiday season — whether on a charcuterie board or a fun snack plate!
- Blueberries & Cheese – Blueberries go wonderfully with brie, goat cheese, and gouda. Enjoy them on a cracker or make blueberry ricotta bruschetta.
- Blueberries & Nuts — The healthy fat found in nuts make them especially great to pair with a handful of blueberries to help support balanced blood sugar.
- Blueberries & Olives — If sweet and salty is your thing, blueberries paired with olives will be your new go-to. Olives contain healthy monounsaturated fats that, when combined with blueberries, may help keep blood sugar in check.
- Blueberries & Lean Meats — Think sliced turkey or chicken breast for a filling combination of protein and fiber from blueberries. You could even mash them up (whether fresh or frozen) and use as a dipping sauce!
Dried blueberries also make a great addition to a charcuterie board – just another way to grab a boost of blue!
More Blueberry Recipes You’re Sure to Love
- Frozen Blueberry Chocolate Nut Clusters
- Whole Grain Blueberry Pumpkin Muffins
- Blueberry Sweet Potato Greens & Grains Bowl
- Blueberry Ricotta Bruschetta
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report 2020.
- U.S Department of Health and Human Services & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- American Diabetes Association. 2021. What Superstar foods are good for diabetes?
- Stote K, et al. Effect of Blueberry Consumption on Cardiometabolic Heath Parameters in Men with Type 2 Diabetes: An 8-Week, Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Curr Dev. Nutr. 2020;4(4): nzaa030. Funded by USHBC.
- Carvalho MF, Lucca ABA, Ribeiro e Silva VR, Macedo LRD, Silva M. Blueberry intervention improves metabolic syndrome risk factors: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Res. 2021;91. Doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2021.04.006
- Early K, Stanley K. Position of the academy of nutrition and dietetics: the role of medical nutrition therapy and registered dietitian nutritionists in the prevention and treatment of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2018;118(2):343-353. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2017.11.021