Eight of the best diabetic foods you can eat
As a diabetic, you need to pay more attention to the foods you eat. Because your body can’t process sugar as well as someone without diabetes, it’s important to eliminate as many sugary, starchy and processed foods as you can.
Here are eight of the top diabetic foods to add to your diet to keep it interesting, nutritionally dense, and your blood sugar under control:
Green leafy vegetables are particularly good diabetic-friendly foods. They contain high levels of nutrients that can help the body fight inflammation that diabetes may cause1. They’re also versatile in that they can be added to a diabetic’s diet in many different dishes.
Fruit is often not recommended for diabetics due to the amount of sugar they contain. Citrus fruits, particularly oranges, may, however, be suitable diabetic foods due to the antioxidants they contain2.
Diabetics need to pay attention to the carbohydrates in foods, which is why most fruits are a no-no on their list. Berries, such as blueberries, for example, only contain 10g of carbs in ½ a cup, which is well below the 15-20g that is typically allocated for a snack. Additionally, berries tastes great, they are versatile and can be used in many different recipes, and they contain a variety of nutrients that are good for your health overall3.
Forget the fruity types, go for plain yogurt and it’s classified as a beneficial diabetic food. For one, plain or Greek yogurt contains far less sugar than sweetened types, but they also contain bacterial cultures. These cultures, called probiotics, have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation in diabetics4.
Don’t just add any fish to your list of preferred diabetic foods, add fatty fish. Why? It contains healthy fatty acids such as omega 3s that are well known for fighting inflammation. Eating fish like salmon, mackerel or herring 2-3 times a week is advised to supply the right amount of fatty acids5.
Eggs can contribute a whole whack of health benefits in diabetics. They contain good quality protein and fats, which can help to keep your hunger at bay and reduce your cravings for sugar. They’ve also been found to help improve cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar; so be sure to add them to your diabetic foods list6.
Nuts and seeds.
As a snack, in salads, soups or stews, or used to make healthy treats, you may not yet have realized just how versatile nuts and seeds are as diabetic foods. They add healthy fats and oils to your diet, help to increase your fiber intake – which can improve blood sugar levels – and they taste great. Choose flaxseeds, chia seeds, pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts and hazelnuts as your go-to on your diabetic diet7,8.
If you thought you could never have sugar again, think again. You can still enjoy something sweet, even if you have diabetes, as long as you choose the right foods. Yacon root, which is a type of root vegetable, has been found to contain compounds that have been shown to improve insulin resistance and promote weight management. An extract from the root can safely be used by diabetics as a low-calorie sweetener in food and beverages9.
When you receive a diagnosis of diabetes, it’s often alongside the thought, “but, what can I eat?”. As you can see, there are so many choices available that don’t only taste great, but add a wide range of nutrients to your diet, and stabilizing your blood sugar at the same time.
- Han, J., et al. The effect of glutathione S-transferase M1 and T1 polymorphisms on blood pressure, blood glucose, and lipid profiles following the supplementation of kale (Brassica oleracea acephala) juice in South Korean subclinical hypertensive patients. Nutr Res Pract. 2015 Feb; 9(1): 49–56.
- Ye, X. Phytochemicals in Citrus: Applications in Functional Foods. CRC Press. 2017.
- Min, S., et al. Blueberry as a source of bioactive compounds for the treatment of obesity, type 2 diabetes and chronic inflammation. Journal of functional foods. 2016.
- Gomes, A., et al. Gut microbiota, probiotics and diabetes. Nutrition Journal. 2014. 13(60).
- Kondo, K., et al. A fish-based diet intervention improves endothelial function in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized crossover trial. Metabolism. 2014 Jul;63(7):930-40.
- Pearce, K., et al. Egg consumption as part of an energy-restricted high-protein diet improves blood lipid and blood glucose profiles in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Br J Nutr. 2011 Feb;105(4):584-92.
- Tapsell, L., et al. Long-term effects of increased dietary polyunsaturated fat from walnuts on metabolic parameters in type II diabetes. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Aug;63(8):1008-15.
- Clark, M., & Slavin, J. The effect of fiber on satiety and food intake: a systematic review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32(3):200-11.
- Caetano, B., et al. Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) as a Food Supplement: Health-Promoting Benefits of Fructooligosaccharides. Nutrients. 2016 Jul; 8(7): 436.