Gone are the days when diabetics have to avoid sweets at all costs and pump themselves full of fat and protein. Today, doctors believe that your diabetes health is linked to a holistic diet that involves a combination of protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates, including the occasional treat.
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However, some foods are better for your overall diabetes management than others are. These spectacularly healthy foods have a low glycemic index, helping you to keep your blood glucose level down, and they are relatively low in fat and calories, which helps stop your glucose from spiking after you eat them.
Incorporate these superfoods into your diet to give yourself the vitamins and nutrients you need while keeping your glucose levels in check.
Beans are considered a starchy vegetable, so you need to eat them in relative moderation. The good news is that they’re so healthy they can easily be one of the only starchy vegetables you eat. Every kind of dried bean has incredibly high levels of fiber, which decreases your risk of heart disease and helps control your blood sugar.
Beans are also a fat-free source of protein, making them a healthy alternative to meat. Canned beans have the same nutrition, but they usually also have extra sodium, so be sure to drain and rinse them if you want to make them a regular part of your diet.
Heart-healthy fish are one of the richest natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health and help lower cholesterol levels. They’re among the best ways to get protein and healthy fats into your diet while bringing minimal saturated fats and calories along for the ride.
They’re such a good food for diabetics that the Mayo Clinic recommends eating at least two servings per week. Salmon is the most frequently touted variety of heart-healthy fish, but tuna, mackerel, sardines and bluefish are excellent sources of omega-3s, as well. Avoid breaded and fried fish, though; they add unnecessary starches, calories and unhealthy fat.
Nuts And Seeds
Like fish, nuts and seeds give you a powerhouse of protein and healthy fat with minimal unhealthy fats. They also provide fiber, and because they’re calorically dense, a handful goes a long way in keeping you full. Walnuts and flax seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids.
The only downside with nuts and seeds is that the high calorie count can make your blood sugar spike if you gorge on them, so save them for snacks and garnishes.
All berries are excellent sources of antioxidants and fiber, but blueberries are by far the best choice. They have an even higher level of antioxidants than strawberries, raspberries or blackberries, which help your body to fight off cancer, heart disease and inflammation.
Berries also have a lower glycemic index than fruits like pineapples or raisins, helping you to satisfy your sweet tooth without raising your blood sugar.
Green, Leafy Vegetables
Vegetables like spinach, kale, collard greens and Swiss chard are godsends for diabetics. They’re rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, but so low in calories and carbohydrates that they have virtually no effect on your blood sugar.
This allows you to fill up on as many greens as you want without any worries. They also tend to be high in iron, a critical mineral if you’re trying to cut fatty, high-calorie red meats from your diet.
Low-Fat Milk And Yogurt
A 2005 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that men who consume dairy products have a 9 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes than men who do not. This may be because milk is an excellent source of vitamin D, which helps your body to manage glucose and insulin.
Like beans and heart-healthy fish, low-fat milk provides your body with protein and nutrients without packing in too much extra fat and cholesterol.
Outside of fruits and vegetables, whole grains are your best bet for carbohydrates. The germ and bran of the grain, which are present in whole-wheat breads and pastas, give you B-vitamins, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium and zinc.
What’s more, your body doesn’t process the starch and turn it into glucose as quickly as it does with white bread and pasta, helping your glucose levels to remain even.