The Best and Worst Foods for a Diabetic Diet

Diabetes can be manageable if you know how different foods affect your blood sugar

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The Best and Worst Foods for a Diabetic Diet

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People with diabetes can measure how food affects their blood sugar by monitoring their blood-glucose levels. Stabilizing blood sugar depends on the foods you eat, so it is important to be aware of what certain foods do to your blood.There are foods that can help people living with diabetes better manage the disease, but other foods can spike your blood sugar to dangerous levels. Read on to learn more.  

Baked Goods — Worst

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“Store-bought baked goods contain trans fats, which have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease,” Smithson says. “People with diabetes at are a much higher risk of heart disease even before adding foods high in trans fats to the equation.”

Barley — Best

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“Barley is a good source of soluble fiber, a cholesterol-lowering fiber,” Smithson says.“It is a carbohydrate food, but has also been shown to blunt spikes in blood-glucose levels in people with diabetes, who may see a decrease in their average blood-glucose levels measured by an A1C test.” 

Beans — Best

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“People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to also have heart disease, and beans are packaged with beneficial qualities for prevention,” Smithson says. “They provide a good source of soluble fiber, which has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. Since beans are a complex carbohydrate and contain fiber, they are digested slowly, which accounts for a slower rise in blood-glucose levels.”

Coffee — Best

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Despite the controversy, studies have shown that coffee lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Coffee contains polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties. Coffee also contains magnesium, and greater magnesium intake has been linked with lower rates of Type 2 diabetes.

Dark Chocolate — Best

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“Many of the benefits of dark chocolate are related to cardiovascular health,” Smithson says. “Dark chocolate with at least 60 percent cocoa has benefits related to the flavanols present in cocoa, which offer benefits for blood pressure, insulin resistance, and blood lipids.”

Lunch Meats — Worst

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Processed red meats such as lunch meats — hot dogs, bacon, salami, and bologna — are high in sodium,” Smithson says. “Studies have shown a significant increase risk in development of Type 2 diabetes.”

Nuts — Best

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“Nuts also hold a double benefit for heart disease and diabetes management,” Smithson says. “Nuts are low in carbohydrates and contain unsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy fats. There have been studies showing that people with diabetes who snacked on nuts in place of a higher-carbohydrate food choice maintained better blood-glucose readings than those who snacked on carbohydrate foods.”

Oatmeal — Best

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“Oatmeal is a whole-grain cereal that contains fiber and no fat, which makes it a diabetes- and heart-healthy food choice,” Smithson says. “The fiber content of oatmeal slows the absorption of carbohydrates, improving blood-sugar control. Oatmeal has soluble fiber, which has been shown to help decrease cholesterol levels.” 

Sweetened Beverages — Worst

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“Quick-acting carbohydrate beverages such as regular soft drinks, energy drinks, and sport drinks, because they are quickly absorbed into the blood stream, may give spikes in blood-glucose levels,” Smithson says. “Soft drinks and energy drinks provide more calories than nutrition.”

White Bread and Rice — Worst

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White rice has very little fiber, and a study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that eating it regularly could increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Choose brown rice instead, which has more fiber and can keep blood-sugar levels stable