A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and healthful proteins can have great benefits for people with diabetes. Balancing certain foods can help maintain health, improve overall health, and prevent future problems. A healthcare professional can work with people who have diabetes to find the most beneficial food choices that work for them.
This article lists the best foods for people with diabetes to eat, as well as which foods to limit or balance in the diet.
Diet for Diabetes
Living with diabetes does not mean feeling deprived. People can learn to balance their diet and make a healthy diet while still including the foods they enjoy.
Both sugary and starchy carbohydrates can increase blood sugar levels, but people can choose to include these foods in the correct portions as part of a balanced meal plan.
For diabetic, it is important to check the total amount of carbohydrates in a meal. Carbohydrate needs will vary based on many factors, including a person’s activity levels and medications.
A dietitian can suggest specific carbohydrate to best meet a person’s needs. For diabetic patients, the key to a beneficial diet, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), is as:
- Take Fruits and vegetables.
- Take lean protein.
- Take foods with less added sugar.
- Avoid many fats.
Below is a list of some fruits, vegetables, with less added sugar.
Green leafy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are full of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. They also have less impact on blood sugar levels.
Some researchers state that eating green leafy vegetables is helpful for individuals with diabetes due to their high antioxidant content and starch-digesting enzymes.
Green leafy vegetables include:
- collard greens
- bok choy
People can add green leafy vegetables in their diet in salads, side dishes, soups, and dinners. You can add them with a source of lean protein, such as chicken or tofu.
Whole grains have high levels of fiber and more nutrients than refined white grains.
Eating a diet rich in fiber is important for individuals with diabetes because fiber slows down the digestion process. A slower absorption helps keep blood sugar levels stable.
Whole wheat and whole grains are less glycemic index (GI) scale than white bread and rice. This means they have less impact on blood sugar.
Examples of whole grains are:
- Brown rice
- Whole grain bread
- Whole grain pasta
Oily fish is an excellent addition to any diet. People need a certain amount of healthful fats to maintain their body functioning and to promote heart and brain health.
Some fishes are a rich source of both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These are:
- Albacore tuna
People can eat seaweed, such as kelp and spirulina, as plant-based alternative sources of these oily acids.
Instead of fried fish, which contain saturated fats, people can try baked, roasted, or grilled fish. Diabetic people can take it with a mix of vegetables for a healthy meal choice.
Beans are cheap, nutritious, and best for health.
Beans are a type of legume with B vitamins, beneficial minerals (calcium, potassium, and magnesium), and fiber.
They also have a very less glycemic index, which is important for managing diabetes.
Beans may also help prevent diabetes.
In a study involving more than 3,000 individuals at high risk for cardiovascular disease, those who had a higher consumption of legumes had a 35 percent less chance of developing diabetes.
Walnuts are another excellent addition to the diet. Walnuts contain healthy fatty acids that help keep the heart-healthy.
Walnuts are especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids called alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). Like other omega-3s, ALA is good for heart health.
People with diabetes may have a high danger of heart disease, so it is important to get these fatty acids through the diet.
Walnuts also provide main nutrients, such as protein, vitamin B-6, magnesium, and iron.
People can take a handful of walnuts to their breakfast or to a mixed salad.
Research has stated that citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons, have anti-diabetic effects.
Eating citrus fruits is an excellent way to get vitamins and minerals from the fruit without carbohydrates.
Some researchers state that two bioflavonoid antioxidants, called hesperidin and naringin, are responsible for the antidiabetic effects of oranges.
Citrus fruits are also a rich source of:
- Vitamin C
Strawberries are one of the most healthful fruits you can eat.
They’re rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins, which give them their red color.
Anthocyanins have been shown to less cholesterol and insulin levels. They also improve blood sugar and heart disease risk factors for people with diabetes.
Strawberries have polyphenols, which are beneficial plant compounds.
Sweet potatoes have less GI than white potatoes. This makes them an excellent alternative for people with diabetes because they release sugar more slowly and do not raise blood sugar as much.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of:
People can enjoy sweet potatoes in different ways, including baked, boiled, roasted, or mashed. For a good meal, eat them with a source of lean protein and green leafy vegetables or a salad.
Yogurt is a great dairy option for people with diabetes.
Some research shows that eating certain dairy items like yogurt may improve blood sugar management and reduce heart disease risk factors.
Studies also indicate that yogurt consumption may be linked with lower levels of blood glucose and insulin resistance.
People often call chia seeds a superfood due to their rich antioxidant and omega-3 content. They are also an excellent sources of plant-based protein and fiber.
In one small-scale randomized controlled trial, individuals who were overweight and had type 2 diabetes lost more weight after 6 months when they included chia seeds in their diet compared with those who ate an oat bran alternative.
The researchers believe that chia seeds can help people manage diabetes.
People can sprinkle chia seeds over breakfast or salads, add them in baking, or add water to make a dessert.
Foods to avoid
One way to manage diabetes with diet is to balance high- and low-GI foods. A high-GI diet increases blood sugar more than a low-GI diet.
When choosing a high-GI diet, limit the portions and pair these foods with protein or healthful fat to reduce the impact on blood sugar.
Foods rich on the GI scale include:
- White bread
- Puffed rice
- White rice
- White pasta
- White potatoes
People with diabetes may wish to balance the following foods:
- Carb-heavy foods: Carbohydrates are an important part of all foods. However, individuals with diabetes will benefit from limiting their carbohydrate intake in a balanced diet.
- High-GI fruits: Most fruits are low on the GI scale, although melons and pineapple are high-GI. This means that they can increase blood glucose.
- Saturated and Trans fats: Unhealthful fats, such as saturated and trans fats, can make an individual with diabetes. Many fried and processed foods, such as fries, chips, and baked goods, contain these types of fats.
- Refined sugar: People with diabetes should limit or avoid refined sugar, likely present in both store-bought and homemade sweets, cakes, and biscuits.
- Sugary drinks: Drinks that contain a lot of sugar, for example, energy drinks, some coffees, and shakes, can imbalance individuals’ insulin levels.
- Salty foods: Salty Foods can raise blood pressure. Salt may also show up as sodium on a food label.
The ADA stated that people keep their daily sodium intake to under 2,300 milligrams per day, which is the same as the suggestion for the general population.
- Alcohol: Drinking alcohol is a normal amount should not have serious risks for people with diabetes and should not affect long-term glucose control.
People using insulin or insulin therapies may have a higher risk of hypoglycemia linked to alcohol consumption.
The bottom line
People with diabetes can work with their healthcare professionals to take advice about their diet plan.
Eating a healthful, diet including the foods listed above can help individuals with diabetes manage their condition and prevent complications by:
- Maintaining their blood sugar levels
- Reducing inflammation
- Reducing the risk of heart disease
- increasing antioxidant activity
- lessening the risk of kidney disease
When diabetes is not fully managed, it increases your risk for several diseases.
But eating good foods that help keep blood sugar, insulin, and inflammation manageable can dramatically reduce your risk for serious diseases.