An Ounce of Prevention and a Spoonful of Ginger

Did you know?

  • Asian Americans are nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes as the general population?
  • Approximately 10 percent of all Asian Americans have diabetes and even more remain undiagnosed?
  • Asian Americans are one of the nation’s fastest-growing minority populations?
  • During the last decade, the AAPI Massachusetts population grew 68%?
  • Emerging research shows Asian Americans respond differently (not as well) to an American diet than Caucasians?
  • Even at lower weights Asian Americans will be more likely to develop diabetes?

While there is currently no cure for diabetes, prevention and control are within reach.

The AADI at the Joslin Diabetes Center

Ten years ago Dr. George King noticed the disproportionate occurrence of diabetes in the Asian population. It was from these observations that the AADI (Asian American Diabetes Initiative) was born. With its upcoming gala "A Spoonful of Ginger" the Joslin Diabetes Center will celebrate ten years, unveil a new website with great community resources and share the emerging research which shows dietary factors - the factors that are within our control - can significantly decrease your chances of acquiring diabetes. It's an historic moment and it's fitting to fête it at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Two of the engaging tools from the old website that will remain on the new one include the Wok calculator (see screenshot). Using culturally accurate foods, it enables you to click and drag items like rice noodles, roast duck, gailand or soy sauce into a wok to calculate the nutrients. Another tool is the "village of health" which allows the user to click on a supermarket or a gym, a movie theatre or restaurant. Healthy choices are highlighted in each.


? Pop quiz: which has more sugar - a 12 oz can of soda or a bowl of rice? The answer is that they're about the same.

While popular diets will focus on low carb or no carb it's a better bet to focus on which carb. While we love our white rice, the fiber in other grains is more beneficial from a healthy nutritional standpoint. Soluble fiber is often overlooked and micronutrients scarcely enter our minds. When researchers began to examine Asian Americans who transition from traditional to American diets, it seems that Asians do respond worse to a high fat /protein / high saturated and trans fat heavy diet. Even at lower body weight or BMI, Asians are more likely than their Caucasian counterparts to become diabetic, making the monitoring of nutrition even more important.

I spoke with Dr. Sophia Cheung, Nutrition and Diabetes Educator for Joslin’s Asian American Diabetes Initiative, recently about the work of AADI and the role of nutrition. Joining us on the call was Bik Ng, chef instructor at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. Bik also leads tours of Boston's Chinatown. Bik is a member of the Spoonful of Ginger planning committee and is a long-time supporter of A Spoonful of Ginger.

While the news of diabetes in the Asian community was sobering, the positive takeaway is that unlike many diseases, this is one where we have a great deal within our control to prevent or manage the risk factors. Here are a handful of positive steps you can take to reduce your risk of diabetes (even if you're not Asian!)

  1. Understand that many factors are within our control
  2. Small changes have good effects - exercise daily even if it's a 20 minute walk after dinner. If you prefer white rice, don't try to force a change overnight. Choose a different grain some nights, or find a good brown rice you like and alternate it with white.
  3. Don't focus on “low carb” but focus on which carbs. Choose whole grains. Try quinoa, brown rice, barley.
  4. Soluble fiber (25 - 35 gms/day 8-10 gms at each meal) - add 1/2 C of beans to your salad with dinner.
  5. Choose fruits as snacks - apples and pears are great choices for the right fiber

By taking small, positive steps now, you can significantly reduce your chance of acquiring diabetes later.

“A Spoonful of Ginger” Food Tasting to Celebrate 10th Anniversary of Joslin’s Asian American Diabetes Initiative

Participating chefs include Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger, Jasper White of Summer Shack and Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery and Myers + Chang, and many others.

To celebrate the event’s new home at the Museum of Fine Arts, guests who purchase special “Art Lover” tickets may enjoy an exclusive tour from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. with a MFA curator of either The Secrets of Tomb 10A: Egypt 2000 BC, The Silk Road and Chinese Art prior to the Ginger event program.

  • Date: Monday, April 5, 2010 Time: 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Location: The Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue
  • Cost: A Spoonful of Ginger tickets: $250 each
  • Special “Art Lover” Tour Tickets: $500 each (includes ticket to Ginger and special MFA Curator Tour) All proceeds benefit Joslin’s AADI

To purchase tickets:  Please contact Joslin’s Development Office at 617-732-2531 or click on Joslin Diabetes Center Spoonful of Ginger.