If you have diabetes, it’s important to eat foods that can help keep your blood sugar levels in check. This includes a variety of fruits, veggies, dairy, and grains.
It’s also good to eat more lean meat, which can help reduce spikes in your blood sugar. Follow this general rule: Fill one-half of your plate with nonstarchy vegetables and another with protein.
Fruits are a great addition to any diabetic diet. They provide a wealth of vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
The good news is that most fruits are safe for diabetics to eat as long as they follow proper portion sizes and do not overeat. They are rich in fiber and water, which help you feel fuller and control your blood sugar levels.
Choosing a variety of different fruit types is a key way to get the most benefit from them. Some fruits, such as blueberries, strawberries, and kiwi, are especially high in antioxidants and may help reduce your risk of chronic disease.
Other fruits, such as apples and pears, are high in fiber and can help slow down a blood sugar spike. Pair your fruit with a protein or fat to further blunt its impact on your glucose levels.
Dairy foods offer a variety of benefits for diabetics, including protein, calcium and vitamin D. They also help maintain steady blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Milk, cheese and yogurt are the most popular dairy choices. They’re rich in calcium, potassium and other nutrients that many people don’t get enough of.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with type 2 diabetes drink one cup of fat-free or low-fat milk every day and include a variety of other dairy products in their diet. But they caution against overconsumption of dairy and other high-fat foods.
People with diabetes are often encouraged to avoid foods that contain high levels of carbohydrates (such as white rice, pasta and bread). These processed grains are known to cause an uncontrollable rise in blood sugar, which leads to a range of health complications.
However, eating whole grains can help control diabetes. These foods contain fiber, which slows digestion and the absorption of carbohydrates thereby lowering blood sugar after meals.
Some grains that are beneficial for diabetics include wheat berries, oats, barley, bulgur and amaranth. The latter is a non-gluten grain that contains antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Lean meat is a great source of protein for diabetics, but it can be hard to find. It’s best to opt for whole, unprocessed meat that is low in fat and calories, says registered dietitian Ann Walker, RD.
Red meat can be part of a diabetes diet in moderation, but it’s important to choose high-quality sources. Avoiding fatty cuts is especially crucial, because saturated fat has been linked to heart disease and other complications in people with diabetes.
When you’re shopping for meat, be sure to check labels for ingredients that are high in sodium and nitrates, which can interfere with normal insulin production and promote insulin resistance. Also, be aware of portion size. Eating a large serving can lead to weight gain, which can make diabetes harder to control.
Vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, and they can also help manage your diabetes. These nutrient-rich foods have many disease-fighting benefits, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
They also contain nitrates, which can reduce blood pressure and heart issues in diabetics. Some vegetables, like radish and okra, can reduce spikes in blood sugar levels, too.
Some vegetables are considered “good” or “bad” for your health, according to their glycemic index (GI). Vegetables that have a low to moderate GI score are often the best choices for people with diabetes.