Managing diabetes involves two major priorities: maintaining or losing weight and balancing your blood sugar.
Diets rich in whole grains and fiber slow down glucose absorption in the stomach, which can keep blood sugar levels in check. Opt for whole-wheat flour when possible, and always choose brown rice instead of white. Oatmeal is also a great, fiber-rich option, as is quinoa, which has higher protein content than rice.
Corn is full of nutrients including Iron, vitamins A and B6, folate, and magnesium, and while it’s high in starch, it’s considered a whole grain and is good to eat in limited quantities, like one ear or ½ cup of kernels. Opt for blue corn in particular; it has a lower glycemic index, less starch, and more protein than yellow corn.
Leafy greens can fill you up and round out a meal without adding a lot of calories, and also contain vital nutrients like folate and vitamins A and K. They’re also non-starchy, and have a minimal effect on blood sugar levels.
Non-starchy vegetables like peppers, broccoli, spinach, and mushrooms are a great source of good carbs, are low in calories, dense with nutrients, and have a minimal blood sugar impact.
Like all carbohydrates, fruits should be monitored as part of a diabetic diet, but are also an essential part of it. Fresh fruits are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and most of them have a low glycemic index. Just pay attention to portion sizes, and avoid fruits packed in syrup. Good fruit options include peaches, apples, berries, cherries, and oranges.
Regular jams, jellies, and preserves are full of sugar, and many contain high-fructose corn syrup, which has an incredibly high glycemic index. If you’re looking for something sweet to top your toast, go for low-sugar or sugar-free preserves, which contain much less sugar. Hero brand’s offerings contain only two grams of sugar per serving.
Cheese has a very low glycemic index, and is also high in protein and low in carbohydrates. It can be loaded with fat, though, so if possible opt for ricotta, feta, part-skim mozzarella, or Swiss.
Tofu is a complete protein, and helps to regulate blood sugar levels, making it one of the best foods a diabetic can eat. It’s also high in dietary fiber.
Egg whites are very low in carbs and fat and very high in protein, making them a perfect food for both weight management and blood sugar control.
Beans, aside from being inexpensive and basically fat-free, are rich in high-quality carbs, soluble fiber, and lean protein, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels while also filling you up. Just make sure they’re not cooked in lard.
Nuts, and walnuts in particular, are great for diabetics. The monounsaturated fat content slows down carbohydrate absorption, and the high fiber content can help negate the effects carbs have on your blood sugar. Almonds are also high in magnesium (along with pumpkin seeds, Swiss chard, and spinach), which have been proven to lower the risk of developing diabetes.
Lean meats, like skinless chicken breasts, are loaded with protein and contain no carbohydrates, decreasing blood sugar levels while increasing insulin secretion. Fresh fish is also low in fat and high in protein.