For a person who’s used to eating normal meals, switching up to a diabetic diet is not the easiest thing. Prediabetes and diabetes are conditions that need one to regularly monitor their blood sugar, their weight and the amount of carbohydrates that go into their body. For a diabetic, when you allow your blood sugar to rise you could end up suffering kidney problems , nerve damage or even heart disease.
Luckily for people with diabetes, there are a number of different foods they could enjoy just as long as they know what’s good for them and what’s not. They can still have foods rich in flavor thanks to spices such as cinnamon or garlic that are flavor-enhancers. This alongside certain tricks like drinking milk when you wake up in the morning could greatly help in regulating your blood sugar.
Here are some healthy food options for diabetics:
1. Go for dark leafy vegetables
Many dark leafy vegetables like kales and spinach are really good for diabetics. They’re packed with vitamin C, which is their biggest strength. According to research, vitamin C has been found to reduce blood sugar and inflammatory markers. The study recommended that in order to reduce diabetes type 2 symptoms one should eat more green leafy vegetables.
These leafy green vegetables are rich in a variety of minerals that are not only low in calories but also in carbohydrates. When you eat plenty of leafy green vegetables such as kales and spinach, the vegetables will definitely work wonders on your body especially if you have diabetes type 2.
2. Drink milk every morning
The effect of milk on diabetes has been a cause of argument for a while among experts but overtime there have been more positive findings linking milk to diabetes. According to the findings of a 2018 study, eating your breakfast with some milk every morning is helpful to those who suffer from diabetes throughout their day. The protein in milk helps them feel fuller for a longer period which is great as it regulates your body’s blood sugar and your appetite. In 2016, scientists discovered that dairy products are more effective in controlling blood sugar than either eggs or soy.
3. Eat some berries
Whether it’s strawberries that you love, blueberries or raspberries, they’re all helpful in curbing and reducing the symptoms of diabetes. In a journal called “Obesity” researchers stated that when you eat berries, your insulin resistance benefits. If you eat two cups of raspberries every day the glucose concentration is lower.
It doesn’t matter how small the quantity is, as long as you eat berries often, you significantly reduce your risk of diabetes. According to a Chinese study, people who ate about 17g of any type of berries showed a 5% reduction in their risk of diabetes type 2. 17 grams is the equivalent of two blackberries, 13 blueberries, one large strawberry and nine raspberries.
4. Eating peanut butter
Natural peanut butter makes for a great low glycemic food. It’s very filling because it slows down digestion for a longer period. The slow digestion process also prevents you from experiencing spikes in your blood sugar later. According to a study that was conducted in 2018, those adults who had at least two tablespoons of peanut butter spread on white bread with some apple juice experienced a blood sugar spike that was less serious or lower than those who did not. It is, therefore, highly recommended that you spread your peanut butter over some toast, preferably whole meal or oatmeal.
5. Cooking with olive oil
While olive oil may contain a lot of calories, it helps reduce the level of cholesterol in one’s body significantly and in a more effective way than other fats. Olive oil is packed with healthy fats that help in regulating type 2 diabetes symptoms. In 2015, researchers from a university in Rome did a study through which they discovered that the oil is helpful in reducing the bad cholesterol in the body. The antioxidants in olive oil called polyphenols lower inflammation and to a great extent protect the blood cells. Olive oil therefore regulates blood pressure.
6. Whole grains
Although in most cases diets meant for diabetic people will discourage them to eat bread, they don’t have to get rid of grains. Eating whole grains is highly recommended if you suffer from diabetes. According to scientists, no study shows has revealed any negative effects of whole grains on people with diabetes. Whole wheat in fact reduces the risk of diabetes. According to studies, those people who eat about 50 grams of whole wheat in a day which is equivalent to a slice of bread or a bowl of cereal, have a 22% to 34% less chance of getting diabetes so go right ahead and eat your whole-grain bread.
7. Sweet potatoes
Compared to other foods that contain starch, sweet potatoes are great for reducing the symptoms of diabetes. They have lower GI compared to white potatoes. Therefore, when you eat a medium-sized one your blood sugar is kept in check. They’re also good at providing minerals like iron, vitamin C and fiber that are anti-diabetic. Note, however, that the GI in sweet potatoes changes based on the way you cook them. According to a 2011 study, boiled sweet potatoes usually have the lowest GI and when you decide to roast them instead, the sweet potato GI is reduced even further. Frying comes in a close second to roasting.
For so many years people have demonized eggs saying that it raises the amount of cholesterol in your body. However, contrary to this thought, eggs actually reduce the bad cholesterol in the body and raise the good, heart-healthy cholesterol. This change of cholesterol according to study, can make your blood pressure and blood sugar stable in case you suffer from diabetes type 2. Eating at least two eggs in a day gives you that much-needed protein and will help you stay fuller for longer. It will also help you in regulating the amount of glucose in your blood. When you’re eating eggs, be sure to eat the yolk too since it contains the most nutrition.
If you’re a fan of garlic, you’ll be happy to know that it helps in regulating blood sugar. It also keeps cholesterol in check and reduces inflammation. According to a Pakistan study conducted in 2011 when people with diabetes type 2 ate about 900 mg of garlic every day for 24 weeks, they had improved cholesterol levels in their bodies, triglycerides and also glycemic control. Garlic is also helpful in lowering bad cholesterol and raising the levels of good cholesterol.
Eating nuts every day is also helpful to diabetics. According to a 2019 study, nuts reduce the chances of suffering from heart disease especially among patients with diabetes. When you eat servings of an ounce of nuts every day for five days, or just five times in a week, you reduce your chances of getting heart disease by 17% if you are a diabetic patient. The most effective nuts to eat in order to achieve this are pistachios, almonds and walnuts. That said, they’re not the only ones that work. Eating peanuts and cashew nuts improves your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels if you have diabetes type 2.
Several different studies have shown the effectiveness of cinnamon in soothing the symptoms of diabetes. They have revealed that cinnamon extract to a great extent improves blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients. The same can be said about cinnamon tea. To determine whether one has a chronic case of diabetes, hemoglobin A1C, which is directly affected by cinnamon, is measured. Studies have shown that if you have diabetes type 2 and consume one gram of cinnamon every day for about three months, you will have lower A1C levels. The best part about consuming cinnamon is that you don’t need much of it, just a teaspoon a day will make a difference. Eating more than that could create more health problems.
If you have diabetes, you are strongly advised to eat beans a few times every week. People who eat more beans have improved glycemic control. This is because beans are known to have a lower glycemic index and because they digest slowly, they ensure your blood sugar level remains stable for a longer period. Beans also provide some much-needed fiber which slows down the process of sugar absorption in order to improve the level of blood glucose. A diet rich in fiber can also prevent diabetes type 2 in case you’re at risk of getting it.
13. Citrus fruits
Citrus foods are categorized under diabetes superfoods. Despite the fact that lemons and oranges are both acidic, they are helpful to people who suffer from diabetes. Drinking some citrus juice alongside a dish with high GI will lower your glycemic index. The acids present will convert starch into sugar that is gentle on blood sugar. Eating citrus fruits will also help in preventing insulin resistance. For example, a study shows that eating grapefruit not only helps in weight loss, but it also relieves one’s insulin resistance. Eating lemons, lime, oranges or mandarins significantly improve your health.
Whether you choose to eat tomatoes raw or cooked, you will still benefit from them as they are known to alleviate the symptoms of diabetes. According to a study, those people who ate tomatoes in quantity of about 200grams every day were found to have better blood sugar levels. Patients with diabetes who ate tomatoes every day were found to have better blood pressure.
Tomatoes do not contain starch, they’re low GI fruits and have just a few carbohydrates in them. What makes tomatoes anti-diabetic is the fact that they are packed with vitamin C, potassium, beta-carotene and lycopene. They are also anti-heart disease.
15. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is low in carbohydrates and rich in protein. It is also a low GI food that you can eat every morning to help keep your blood sugar under control throughout the rest of the day. Yogurt has been found to reduce your risk of getting diabetes type 2. A 2014 research further reveals that people who eat at least a cup of yogurt every single day reduce their chances of getting diabetes by up to 18%.
Although there hasn’t been too much research conducted when it comes to ginger and its relation to diabetes, the few conclude that ginger is helpful when it comes to lowering the bad cholesterol in your body and raising the good cholesterol levels. The roots of ginger also help in regulating blood sugar of patients who have diabetes. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory properties that are particularly useful in soothing your arteries and blood vessels. You can also take ginger powder supplements if you have diabetes type 2 but before you go ahead with this, seek medical advice from your doctor.
17. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are high in fiber and contain low carbohydrates which makes them the best food for people with diabetes. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids that people with diabetes need. According to a study, diabetes patients who ate chia seeds experienced significant weight loss and had more glycemic control. Over a period of six months, eating chia seeds gave better results than eating the alternative oat bran. When you soak chia seeds in water, your body has an easier time absorbing nutrients. The soaking does not have to be overnight. You can just dip them in water for about two to three minutes after which you can add them to your smoothies, cereal or oatmeal.
Quinoa is a seed eaten similarly to rice as a grain. Eating it gives you more fiber and protein compared to most types of rice and the best thing is it does not lead to spiking of blood sugars thanks to its low glycemic index. A cup of quinoa only contains 40 carbohydrates making it a better alternative to rice. Grains such as quinoa have strong antioxidants that make them useful in managing diabetes type 2.
Squash, just like many other vegetables is packed with antioxidants. As such, it improves the level of insulin according to the studies that have been conducted on animals. On animals, they also lower blood sugar and heighten tolerance to glucose. That said, there is need for more research to be conducted on human beings. One of them already showed that winter squash improves blood sugar levels in diabetics particularly those with type 2 of the condition. If you’re keen on monitoring carbs, then squash will help you especially if you also have diabetes.
20. Fatty fish
Fatty fish such as salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids in them are specifically EPA and DHA that reduce inflammation that would otherwise be caused in the arteries. DHA and EPA both promote better functioning of the arteries after you have eaten thus regulating your metabolism. If you have diabetes, it is recommended that you eat fatty fish at least twice a week. Further studies have shown that eating fatty fish that’s pollutant-free to a great extent prevents diabetes type 2 and is also recommended for those who are at high risk of getting diabetes.
21. Apple cider vinegar
For apple cider vinegar apples are fermented into acetic acid that subsequently lowers the amount of carbs making them one gram for every tablespoon. In a 2015 study, apple cider vinegar was found to improve the body’s insulin sensitivity. This may over time lower the levels of blood glucose. When you take two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar often before you go to sleep, fasting blood sugar is reduced by at least 6% in those who suffer diabetes. More studies reveal that when you consume apple cider vinegar alongside carbs, your blood sugar response is decreased by up to 20%.While generally apple cider vinegar does not cure diabetes, it helps improve blood sugar levels.