It doesn’t have to be difficult to figure out the finest things to consume if you have diabetes.
To keep things simple, the most important objective should be to maintain your blood sugar levels under control. It’s also critical to consume foods that aid in the prevention of diabetic complications such as heart disease. Your food can play an important role in diabetes prevention and management.
Best foods for people suffering from diabetes:
1. Fatty fish
Salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, and mackerel are great sources of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which have major benefits for heart health (1Trusted Source). Getting enough of these fats regularly is especially important for people with diabetes, who have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. DHA and EPA protect the cells that line your blood vessels, reduce markers of inflammation, and may help improve the way your arteries function. Research indicates that people who eat fatty fish regularly have a lower risk of acute coronary syndromes, like heart attacks, and are less likely to die from heart disease (2). Studies show that eating fatty fish may also help regulate blood sugar. A study involving 68 adults who had overweight or obese found that participants who consumed fatty fish had significant improvements in post-meal blood sugar levels than participants who consumed lean fish. Fish is also a great source of high-quality protein, which helps you feel full and helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
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2. Leafy greens
Leafy green vegetables are extremely nutritious and low in calories. They’re also very low in digestible carbs, or carbs absorbed by the body, so they won’t significantly affect blood sugar levels. Spinach kale and other leafy greens are good sources of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C. Some evidence suggests that people with diabetes have lower vitamin C levels than people without diabetes, and they may have greater vitamin C requirements (4Trusted Source). Vitamin C acts as a potent antioxidant and also has anti-inflammatory qualities.
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Avocados have less than 1 gram of sugar, few carbohydrates, a high fibre content, and healthy fats, so you don’t have to worry about them raising your blood sugar levels. Avocado consumption is also associated with improved overall diet quality and significantly lower body weight and body mass index (BMI) (6Trusted Source). This makes avocados an ideal snack for people with diabetes, especially since obesity increases the chances of developing diabetes.
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4. Vegetables and fruits
You can still eat fruit if you have diabetes. Fruit and vegetables are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. They also provide every meal with more flavour and diversity.
It doesn’t matter if it’s fresh, frozen, dry, or canned. To receive the most variety of vitamins and minerals, choose a rainbow of colours. Fruit drinks and smoothies are low in fibre and should be avoided.
You might be tempted to shun fruit and vegetables if you’re attempting to cut down on carbohydrates. However, it is essential to incorporate them into your diet daily. There are low-carb choices available.
5. Foods that are high in carbohydrates
Potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, chapattis, naan, and plantains are examples of starchy foods. They’re all high in carbohydrates, which our bodies break down into glucose and utilize as fuel. The difficulty with some starchy meals is that they can quickly elevate blood glucose levels, making diabetes management more difficult. These foods have a high glycaemic index (GI) – we have a lot more information on this topic.
Certain starchy meal alternatives have a slower effect on blood glucose levels. Wholegrain bread, whole-wheat pasta, and basmati, brown, or wild rice are examples of foods having a low glycaemic index (GI). They also include more fibre, which aids in the proper functioning of your digestive system.
6. Dairy foods and alternatives
Milk, cheese, and yoghurt have lots of calcium and protein are – great for your bones, teeth, and muscles. But some dairy foods are high in fat, particularly saturated fat, so choose lower-fat alternatives.
Check for added sugar in lower-fat versions of dairy foods, like yoghurt. It’s better to go for unsweetened yoghurt and add some berries if you want it sweeter. If you prefer a dairy alternative like soya milk, choose one that’s unsweetened and calcium-fortified.
If I have diabetes, what foods and beverages should I avoid?
Limit your intake of the following foods and beverages:
Foods rich in saturated fat and trans-fat, also known as sodium sweets, such as baked goods, candy, and ice cream liquids with added sugars, such as juice, regular soda, and regular sports or energy drinks
Drink water instead of sugary drinks. In your coffee or tea, try using a sugar replacement.
If you do consume alcohol, limit yourself to one or two drinks per day if you’re a woman and two drinks if you’re a guy. Alcohol might cause your blood glucose level to decline if you take insulin or diabetic treatments that boost the amount of insulin your body produces.
If I have diabetes, when should I eat?
Some diabetics need to eat at around the same time every day. Others may be able to be more flexible with their eating times. You may need to consume the same quantity of carbs at the same time each day, depending on your diabetes medications or insulin type. Your eating schedule might be more flexible if you use “mealtime” insulin.
Your blood glucose level might drop too low if you use some diabetic drugs or insulin and miss or delay a meal. Inquire with your physician about when you should eat and if you should eat before or after physical exercise.
Nutrition and physical activity are important parts of a healthy lifestyle when you have diabetes. Along with other benefits, following a healthy meal plan and being active can help you keep your blood glucose level, also called blood sugar, in your target range. To manage your blood glucose, you need to balance what you eat and drink with physical activity and diabetes medicine if you take any. What you choose to eat, how much you eat, and when you eat are all important in keeping your blood glucose level in the range that your health care team recommends.