If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, it can be confusing to know which foods you should and shouldn’t eat to help control your condition. Eating healthy foods can help keep your blood sugar levels balanced and prevent complications like blindness, heart disease, and kidney failure in the future. Here are 10 of the healthiest foods to eat if you have diabetes.
Spinach is loaded with fiber and vitamin C, and is also a terrific source of magnesium, which helps your body use glucose. Spinach is also rich in carotenoids—pigments that give plants their color and may help prevent chronic disease by protecting cells from oxidative damage. Research shows that people who ate spinach four or more times per week were 46 percent less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration than those who consumed it less than once per week.
Pineapple is low in calories and carbs, but it has high levels of fiber, B vitamins, and vitamin C. This makes pineapple an excellent fruit for people with diabetes. One study also found that bromelain may slow digestion of carbohydrates, which can help prevent spikes in blood sugar after meals.
Figs are one of nature’s best sources of soluble fiber, which lowers blood sugar. They also have a mild sweetness that offsets their high-fiber content. Studies have shown that people who consume more figs tend to be healthier than those who don’t. Add dried figs to your cereal, salads or oatmeal for an even bigger nutritional punch.
Wheat germ is a rich source of fiber and a variety of vitamins, including vitamin E. The high levels of fiber in wheat germ slow down absorption, so it takes longer for your body to break down nutrients from foods. This can reduce spikes in blood sugar after meals, which can be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes. Wheat germ also contains phytochemicals that may help lower cholesterol and boost heart health.
All carbohydrates are not created equal, so select whole grains whenever possible. For instance, oatmeal is better for your blood sugar than cream of wheat, and brown rice is healthier than white rice. Also check food labels for fiber content; anything with bran in its name (bread, cereal, pasta) will help regulate your glucose levels. If you need extra help controlling blood sugar levels without medication, look for products that list barley extract on their labels.
Apples are a very good source of fiber. Eating a diet high in fiber is beneficial for people with diabetes because it helps them feel full and therefore they tend to consume fewer calories. It also stabilizes blood sugar levels. Research has shown that eating three apples a day can help reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure, which makes apples one of the best foods for diabetics. Additionally, they contain polyphenols, which help keep blood vessels healthy and reduce inflammation, helping prevent heart disease.
Beans contain soluble fiber, which helps lower blood sugar. Other good sources of fiber include whole grains, fresh fruit, and vegetables. To keep your blood sugar in check while losing weight, be sure to get 20-35 grams of fiber per day. A high-fiber diet also keeps you feeling full longer so you’re less likely to overeat. To reach your goal, enjoy at least three servings of whole grains each day and three servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Carrots are full of beta-carotene, which is good for eye health. They’re also packed with vitamin C, fiber and potassium. Carrots can be eaten raw or cooked. They’re sweet when freshly picked, but they get sweeter after being stored in a dry spot for a week or so—taste one to see how it’s doing. Choose carrots that are uniform in size and not overly soft or cracked.
These snacks are high in fiber and protein, which both promote weight loss. Plus, they’re digested slowly by your body, giving your stomach time to send signals of fullness. Another perk? Peanuts are rich in arginine—an amino acid that helps regulate blood pressure levels. Just keep an eye on portion size; one serving contains 190 calories and 16 grams of fat.
Oatmeal is an incredible food for diabetics because it can help lower cholesterol levels. Its soluble fiber content will slow digestion and keep blood sugar stable. Start your day with oatmeal for a healthy breakfast that’s chock-full of disease-fighting antioxidants. As an added bonus, oatmeal may help reduce inflammation in your body, which can lead to lower blood pressure and lessened risk of developing coronary artery disease.
Always seek professional medical and dietary help if you have any concerns.
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