Dhealthwellness.com – A diabetes diet should include plenty of low glycemic index carbohydrates (such as whole grain breads, cereals and pasta), lean proteins (including skinless poultry, fish and dairy) and healthy fats. Avoid sugary foods and drinks and those high in saturated fats.
Dividing Fruit Intake Throughout the Day and Choosing the Right Fruit
Try adding walnuts, which contain polyunsaturated fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, to your salads. Fruits are low in calories and provide disease-fighting antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They also contain satiating fibre. People with diabetes should not avoid fruit, but choose the right fruits. It’s important to spread out your fruit intake throughout the day instead of having it all at one time – for example, add a cup of sliced strawberries to your breakfast cereal or include some berries in a healthy lunch salad.
Papaya has anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in fibre, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and dietary fibre. It helps to prevent constipation and contains enzymes which aid digestion. It is also a good source of iron. It is recommended that a quarter of regular-sized papaya per day is consumed. Vegetables, particularly the nonstarchy varieties, are great for people with diabetes. They’re full of fiber and nutrients, and nonstarchy vegetables are low in carbohydrates — a win for those with diabetes looking to gain control over blood sugar levels.
Starchy veggies like potatoes and sweet potatoes are also healthy, but they need to be eaten in moderation because they have a higher glycemic index, meaning they spike blood sugar. Replace some starchy vegetables with other options, such as broccoli or carrots. Fruit can be a wonderful addition to a diabetic diet, providing disease-fighting antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and satiating fiber. Just keep in mind that a small piece of whole fruit has about 15 g of carbs, while 1 cup of fruit juice can have up to 20 g.
Whole Grains Contain Powerful Nutrients for Diabetics
Whole grains pack a powerful nutrient punch for people with diabetes. They are high in soluble fiber, which helps minimize blood sugar spikes, and contain important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When choosing grains, choose those that are 100% whole grain instead of refined grain options. Look for the word “whole” or the name of the grain listed first on the ingredient label.
All grains are made of three parts: the bran, germ, and endosperm. The bran contains fiber, antioxidants, vitamin E, and B vitamins; the germ contains protein, healthy fats, and vitamin D; and the endosperm contains starchy carbohydrates. The best grains to eat are those with a low glycemic index, such as barley, buckwheat, and oats. This means that these foods have a slow and steady increase in blood sugar, which prevents dramatic spikes in glucose levels.
Fatty fish are excellent for diabetics because they’re high in protein, which improves your body’s metabolism and helps stabilize blood sugar levels. They also provide Omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA, which reduce inflammation and lower your cholesterol. The ADA recommends eating fish, such as salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel and herring, at least twice per week. It’s important to avoid breaded or fried fish, however, as they contain more carbohydrates than other preparation methods. Fruits and vegetables are also a staple of a healthy diabetes diet. However, you must be careful about your carb counting when noshing on nature’s candy, as some fruits and juices are higher in carbohydrates than others (like a 1/2 cup of raisins), and ice pops can have 15 g of sugar in a single serving!
Recommend Healthy Diabetes Staples
Fruits get a bad rap for being carb-heavy, but most are naturally low in the glycaemic index (GI) and can provide disease-fighting antioxidants and vitamins and minerals. Just beware of fruit juice, which can pack in up to 15 g of carbohydrates per serving and should be consumed sparingly.
Unsweetened dairy products are a valuable part of a diabetes diet and do not need to be restricted, though they should be enjoyed in moderation. Adding them to a meal can help with digestion and provide the body with essential nutrients like calcium, iodine and protein. Dairy also provides healthy fats, but it is important to choose the right options. Swap full-fat milk for semi-skimmed or skim milk to cut down on the fat and calories.
Breland, J. Y., McAndrew, L. M., Gross, R. L., Leventhal, H., & Horowitz, C. R. (2013). Challenges to healthy eating for people with diabetes in a low-income, minority neighborhood. Diabetes Care, 36(10), 2895-2901.