Wednesday, June 18, 2008



Type 2 diabetes, previously referred to as 'non-insulin dependent diabetes', was only found in middle-aged and elderly people. Recently, however, it has escalated in all age groups and is now being diagnosed in younger and younger people including predominantly obese and severely obese adolescents and children. This is true in both developed as well as developing countries. This increased incidence is of concern, because children should not have it and it might be avoided by preventive measures.

People with Type 2 diabetes have an impaired ability to convert the sugar in their blood into energy in their muscles. This is partly because they don't produce enough insulin, and partly because their fat and muscle cells don't use insulin effectively, a phenomenon known as 'insulin resistance'.

It has long been known that overweight and obesity are predictors of type 2 diabetes, and obesity is indeed an insulin resistant state. Particular people with central obesity, where fat collects around the waist, are most likely to become insulin resistant. It is no coincidence that cases of type 2 diabetes have escalated in line with the global rise in the scale of overweight and obesity so that type 2 diabetes is being nicknamed 'diabesity'.

Vital measures for both the prevention and cure of 'diabesity' are: weight reduction and taking regular exercise. Even moderate weight loss is linked to a marked reduction in insulin resistance and improves how the body deals with glucose and the overall metabolism. Physical activity also provides dual benefits - it plays a key role in weight control, and exercise also works to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose handling.

There is also convincing evidence that maternal diabetes, including gestational diabetes, which develops in the mother during pregnancy, increases the likelihood of the child developing type 2 diabetes later in life. As obesity is one important modifiable risk factors for gestational diabetes, prevention of obesity in women of child-bearing age is an important preventative measure.

Prevention the priority

Diabetes is a debilitating disease, which leaves sufferers at greater risk of heart disease, circulatory problems, and hypertension. Prevention, through healthy eating and lifestyle, must take the highest priority

So, where’s the pinakbet? Read on.

For the rare Pinoy who has not eaten the Iloko dish pinakbet, the recipe is a vegetarian delight, a stew that contains a mix of ampalaya (bitter melon), talong (eggplant), onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, okra, string beans, lima beans and bagoong (salty anchovies). That is the classic Iloko recipe, the healthy version. Some add Kamote as thickener to the stew. Others have corrupted the dish by adding pork, salt and MSG.

So, what is so great about pinakbet?

A Ton Of Bitter Melon Produces Sweet Results For Diabetes

Teams from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica pulped roughly a ton of fresh bitter melon (Botanical Name :: Monordica charantia) and extracted four very promising bioactive components. These four compounds all appear to activate the enzyme AMPK, a protein well known for regulating fuel metabolism and enabling glucose uptake.

"We can now understand at a molecular level why bitter melon works as a treatment for diabetes," said Professor David James, Director of the Diabetes and Obesity Program at Garvan. "By isolating the compounds we believe to be therapeutic, we can investigate how they work together in our cells."

Exercise activates AMPK in muscle, which in turn mediates the movement of glucose transporters to the cell surface, a very important step in the uptake of glucose from the circulation into tissues in the body. This is a major reason that exercise is recommended as part of the normal treatment program for someone with Type 2 diabetes.

The four compounds isolated in bitter melon perform a very similar action to that of exercise, in that they activate AMPK.

Garvan scientists involved in the project stress that while there are well known diabetes drugs on the market that also activate AMPK, they can have side effects.

"The advantage of bitter melon is that there are no known side effects, Practitioners of Chinese medicine have used it for hundreds of years to good effect." they said.

The results are published online March 27 in the international journal Chemistry & Biology.

(Note: The bitterness is reduced by steeping the peeled fruit in salt water before cooking. But the process may also reduce the health benefits, as excessive salt tends to raise blood pressure.)

Food Value Minerals and Vitamins of ampalaya:

Moisture - 92.4%, Calcium - 20 mg, Protein - 1.6%, Phosphorus - 70 mg, Fat - 0.2%,

Iron - 1.8 mg, Fibre - 0.8%, Vitamin C - 88 mg, Minerals - 0.8%, Carbohydrates - 4.2%

Small amount of Vitamin B Complex

The pinakbet goodies do not end there.


An annual plant, eggplant is native to India where it has been grown for thousands of years. The Chinese and Arabs grew eggplant as early as the ninth century. The early types of eggplant had small fruits of ovoid shape, which perhaps, accounts for its name. Eggplants belong to the nightshade family of vegetables, which also includes tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes.

Eggplant is among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating eggplant.

Benefits of Eggplant

Eggplant is low in calories and is a nonstarchy fruit that contains a large amount of water.

Nutrients in one pound




1.6 mg


4.3 g

Vitamin A

100 I.U.


0.8 g


0.27 mg


21.7 g


0.22 mg


59 mg


3.2 mg


146 mg

Ascorbic acid

19 mg

In addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplant also contains important phytonutrients, many which have antioxidant activity. Phytonutrients contained in eggplant include phenolic compounds, such caffeic and chlorogenic acid, and flavonoids, such as nasunin.

Brain Food

Research on eggplant has focused on an anthocyanin phytonutrient found in eggplant skin called nasunin, a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage. In animal studies, nasunin has been found to protect the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes. Cell membranes are almost entirely composed of lipids and are responsible for protecting the cell from free radicals, letting nutrients in and wastes out, and receiving instructions from messenger molecules that tell the cell which activities it should perform. Learn more of nasunin benefits here.

Researchers have found that eggplants are rich sources of phenolic compounds that function as antioxidants. Plants form such compounds to protect themselves against oxidative stress from exposure to the elements, as well as from infection by bacteria and fungi. The good news concerning eggplant is that the predominant phenolic compound found in all varieties tested is chlorogenic acid, which is one of the most potent free radical scavengers found in plant tissues. Benefits attributed to chlorogenic acid include antimutagenic (anti-cancer), antimicrobial, anti-LDL (bad cholesterol) and antiviral activities.

Onions and Garlic

The onion plant produces a single bulb, unlike its cousin, the garlic, that produces many small bulbs. The name also describes the union of the many separate, concentrically arranged layers of the onion.

In general, the most pungent onions delivered many times the benefits of their milder cousins. For all varieties of onions, the more phenols and flavonoids they contained, the more antioxidant and anti-cancer activity they provided.

Onions, native to Asia and the Middle East, have been cultivated for over five thousand years and revered throughout time not only for their culinary use, but also for their therapeutic properties. As early as the 6th century, onions were used as a medicine in India. Today China, India, the United States, Russian, and Spain are among the leading producers of onions.

Health Benefits

Onions, like garlic, are members of the Allium family, and both are rich in powerful sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for their pungent odors and for many of their health-promoting effects. Onions contain allyl propyl disulphide, while garlic is rich in allicin, diallyl disulphide, diallyl trisulfide and others. In addition, onions are very rich in chromium, a trace mineral that helps cells respond to insulin, plus vitamin C, and numerous flavonoids, most notably, quercitin.

The many health benefits include Blood Sugar-Lowering Effects, Cardiovascular Benefits, Gastrointestinal Health, Protective against Many Cancers, Boost Bone Health. Learn more about onions and garlic.

manganese0.22 mg, molybdenum8.00 µg, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)0.19 mg

tryptophan0.03 g, goodfolate30.40 mcg, potassium251.20 mg, phosphorus52.80 mg

copper0.10 mg

String Beans (sitaw)

The Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Dept of Science and Technology analysis of yard long beans or sitaw for a 100 gram sample:

Moisture 89%, edible portion 93% contains 36 calories

Protein 3.1gm, fat 0.2 gm, carbohydrates 5.8 gm, fiber 1.4 gm

Calcium 61 mg, phosphorus 47 mg, iron 0.9 mg, beta carotene 250 µg

Thiamine .12 mg, riboflavin .11 mg, niacin 1.0 mg, ascorbic 22mg


Okra is low in calories and is a good source of many nutrients including vitamin B6 and
C, fiber, calcium, and folic acid. It is effective for the prevention of neural tube defects
in developing fetuses mainly due to its high content of vitamin B6, calcium, fiber, and
folic acid. Learn more here


From the frequent ads of food firms, one of the most well known tomato eating benefit is its' Lycopene content, a vital anti-oxidant that helps in the fight against cancerous cell formation and other kinds of diseases. Free radicals in the body can be flushed out with high levels of Lycopene, and the tomato is so amply loaded with this vital anti-oxidant that derives its rich redness from the nutrient. While other fruits and vegetables do contain this necessary health ingredient, no other fruit or vegetable has the high concentration of Lycopene of the tomato.

Cancers such as prostate cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, and cancers of the stomach, mouth, pharynx, and esophagus have all been proven to be staved off by high levels of Lycopene. Researchers introduced Lycopene into pre-existing cancer cell cultures and the Lycopene prevented the continued growth of these cultures. This is powerful evidence that the health benefits of eating a tomato are phenomenal.

Tomatoes are equally as nutritious fresh as they are in other variable forms. When tomato products are heat processed the bioavailablity of the Lycopene actually increases.
Research indicates a high likelihood that the consumption of tomatoes and tomato based products actually may prevent serum lipid oxidation and reduce the risk of macular degenerative disease.

Lima beans

Lima beans' contributes to heart health not just in fiber, but in the significant amounts of folate, and magnesium these beans supply. When enough magnesium is around, veins and arteries relax, which lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

In addition to its beneficial effects on the digestive system and the heart, lima beans' soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels. Under conditions of insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, lima beans can help balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. Studies of high fiber diets and blood sugar levels have shown the dramatic benefits provided by high fiber foods. Learn more about Lima beans.

Kamote (sweet potato)

This root vegetable is an excellent source of vitamin A (beta-carotene), a very good source of vitamin C and manganese, and a good source of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and iron. Both beta-carotene and vitamin C are very powerful antioxidants that work in the body to eliminate free radicals, chemicals that damage cells and cell membranes and are associated with the development of conditions like atherosclerosis, diabetic heart disease, and colon cancer. Since these nutrients are also anti-inflammatory, they can be helpful in reducing the severity of conditions where inflammation plays a role, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

A smoker, or one frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, benefits from eating vitamin A-rich foods, such as sweet potatoes, and may even be life saving, suggests research conducted by a professor of nutrition at Kansas State University. A common carcinogen in cigarette smoke, benzo(a)pyrene, induces vitamin A deficiency. Lab animals fed a vitamin A-deficient diet developed emphysema, but a diet rich in vitamin A can help counter this effect, thus greatly reducing emphysema.


Ginger has a long tradition of being effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. It is regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract). Modern research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.

Ginger was shown to be better than Dramamine, a common OTC drug for motion sickness, reducing all symptoms associated with motion sickness including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating. It also is effective in relieving the severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

Ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, substances that may explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly. Gingerols, may also inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells. More on ginger here.


Bagoong, salted and fermented anchovies (dilis or monamon in Iloko), is added as flavoring agent.

All of these benefits from a simple vegetable stew is remarkable.



What a surprise!

Hi Orly!!

I clicked your name (fenix) in Ellen Tordesillas' blog -- didn't realise you've got another blog.

Do you know that I never ate pinakbet until I lived here in Europe and purely by accident; my domestic helper whom my children treated like their own grandmother once cooked it for herself and she made me taste it -- I decide that I actually liked it.

I learned to appreciate okra in Malaysia which our Indonesian helper used to cook.

Unfortunately, never quite learned to cook any Philippine dish except when I've got a recipe book in front of me...

You've got a wonderful and beautiful blog here! Congratulations... will be returning soon.


Ooops, this is Anna de Brux

orly_habari said...

Anna,following my absence from Ellen's blog, Fenix is a Phoenix.
Chancing upon Pinakbet is serendipity.
No ooops needed, I knew Hillblogger and Adb are one and the same.