Diabetes is a condition that causes high blood sugar levels. It is either due to a lack of insulin production or a lack of sensitivity to the insulin that our bodies produce. Either way, the result is high blood glucose levels. These high levels, if not controlled, can lead to complication such as kidney issues, heart problems, and nerve damage. It is this requirement to control blood sugar levels that makes diabetic diet important.
Individuals with diabetes take medicines or inject insulin to keep blood glucose levels in control. However, they still need to consume diabetic diet to prevent sudden sugar spikes. A diabetic diet is the one that consists of low glycemic index food.
The glycemic index (GI) of any food determines how much your blood sugar levels can increase after eating a certain food. A GI between 1 and 55 is considered as low and above 70 is considered as a high glycemic index.
13 FOODS THAT KEEP BLOOD SUGAR LEVEL IN CHECK
Diabetic diet plays an essential role in helping you control your blood sugar. It consists of healthy food that is nutrient-rich, has low fat and low calories. Consuming high calories and more fat results in increased levels of blood sugar.
Mentioned below are 13 foods that can help keep your sugar level in check.
A half cup of beans contain proteins equivalent to what you get from an ounce of meat. The benefit is that beans do not have saturated fats. They contain high-quality carbohydrates, soluble fiber, magnesium, potassium, and lean proteins.
If you have diabetes, beans are an excellent source of starch for you. Beans have a low glycemic index and are considered nutritionally better than whole grains. The diet composed of beans specifically controls glycemic levels in type 2 diabetics.
There are multiple varieties of beans that easily fit in with a diabetic diet. The types of beans that you can choose from are given below.
2. Leafy greens
These vegetables are high in magnesium, vitamin A, and fiber. Together these nutrients help lower the blood sugar levels. Leafy greens have a low glycemic index, and they make an excellent part of the diabetic diet.
You can add the following green vegetables to your diet:
- Collard greens
- Brussels sprouts
- Roman lettuce
Leafy greens are not the taste-bud friendly food. However, you can create green smoothies that are both diabetic-friendly and delicious.
We have two green smoothie recipes here for diabetes.
- Blend a handful of blueberries, one cup of kale, one cup of spinach, one banana, and a few soaked chia seeds.
- Blend one cup of kale, 2 cups of spinach, one cucumber, one orange, two stalks of celery, and some lemonade. If you like it cold, add 3 ice-cubes as well.
Smoothies are the easiest way to consume green leafy vegetables.
3. Citrus fruit
Research demonstrates that two compounds found in citrus fruits – naringin and neohesperidin – are effective in controlling the blood sugar levels and improving the insulin sensitivity of the cells. The best sources for these 2 compounds are:
- Sour Oranges
- Grapefruits of red and blond variety
- Mandarin oranges
Citrus fruits are also a rich source of vitamin C that helps with the processing of proteins and reduces sorbitol which is linked to the development of cataracts and neuropathy.
Just remember, too much of citrus fruit is not suitable for people with diabetes. Eat only in moderation to reap the benefits.
4. Sweet potatoes
You might think potatoes are not the right choice in the case of diabetes. It is true for regular potatoes, not the sweet ones. Packed with fiber and vitamin A, sweet potatoes make a good choice for a diabetic diet. They have a low glycemic index and do not cause blood sugar spikes.
Craving for some sweet food? Try boiling a sweet potato and sprinkle some cinnamon powder on top, or scoop out a bit of potato from the center and fill it with some fruit, vegetable, or even a mashed boiled egg.
This fruit is low in carbohydrates and does not cause sugar spikes. It is a good source of fiber; one small avocado has about 9.2 grams of fiber.
For people with diabetes, healthy weight loss can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risks of complications. According to one study, adding half an avocado to the lunch reduces the desire to eat by up to 40 percent. When you don’t snack frequently, you are less likely to consume excessive calories. This helps reduce weight and hence betters the insulin sensitivity.
Avocados contain good fat. The healthy monounsaturated fat in avocados helps the body consume insulin efficiently. However, avocados are high in calories. One Hass avocado has about 300 calories. Excessive consumption is not useful if you are trying to lose weight.
With diabetes comes certain risks for health condition such as heart problems. Tomatoes are thought to reduce the risk of heart diseases in the case of type 2 diabetes.
Usually, non-starchy foods have a high glycemic index, but tomatoes are low in glycemic index. They have good amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, and fiber.
Tomatoes make a necessary item in most dishes. Therefore, you’d be happy to know that up to 1.5 tomatoes are safe for people with diabetes.
As a person with diabetes, whatever form of tomato you choose – raw, pureed, or sauce – it is still full of nutrients.
It is a good food for those with diabetes. Fish provides proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. It is a rich source of nutrition containing vitamin D – good for bones – and vitamin B2 which contributes to the healthy nervous system, red blood cells, skin, and eyes.
People with diabetes often have low vitamin D levels. Including fish in the diet is an excellent way to cope with the deficiency.
Omega 3 benefits heart health and proteins make up for the energy needs. Mackerel, albacore tuna, wild salmon, sardines, herring, and trout are specifically high in omega-3 fatty acid content.
National Health Services (NHS) recommends two portions of fish per week. One portion means 140 grams of cooked fish.
Research shows that nuts provide multiple health benefits to people with diabetes. Some studies suggest that eating nuts can even lessen the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Although all nuts are beneficial if included in the diabetic diet, different nuts have different nutrients and health benefits. For example, walnuts are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acid, whereas almonds and pistachio reduced the bad cholesterol.
Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are especially good for people with diabetes. If you are not a nut eater, make sure you add these three to your diet.
Remember that nuts have a low glycemic index, but they are usually high in calories. Eat in moderation, and avoid consuming salted varieties.
With its pungent odor and intense flavor, garlic is said to contain more than 400 chemicals. Many of these chemicals have shown to benefit different health conditions, especially heart health.
Multiple studies suggest that garlic can help reduce blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. The compounds allicin, S-allyl cysteine sulfoxide, and allyl propyl disulfide improve the insulin levels in the blood by preventing insulin inactivation by the liver.
People with diabetes are prone to atherosclerosis-related inflammation. Garlic also helps to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. It is a good source of vitamin C that has its own positive effects on blood sugar control. In addition to these benefits, garlic has also shown to decrease blood pressure, improve heart health, prevent cancer growth, and improve immunity. In short, there is no way you should refuse to add garlic to a diabetic diet.
Everyone’s favorite, berries are a nutritious food equally good for people with or without diabetes. These are powerhouses containing vitamins, antioxidants, manganese, potassium, and fiber. Potassium regulates your blood pressure and fiber keeps blood sugars levels in check.
Amid more than 20 varieties of berries, the following three make a good choice if you are on a diabetic diet:
Berries are delicious, and one often consumes more than his initial intention. If you have diabetes, do not consume more than 3/4th or 1 cup in a day.
It sure is a nutrient dense food and has low carbohydrates – which prevents sugar spikes. Yogurt contains probiotics, i.e., good bacteria, and they play a positive role in the gut health.
Little evidence exists on the diabetic-health benefits of yogurt, but several small studies show that yogurt consumption is linked to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
There is an ongoing research on the subject. So far, they have established that yogurt is likely to lower the blood glucose levels and it improves the insulin resistance.
Just make sure that you don’t consume caloric rich toppings with yogurts. Look for low carbohydrate yogurt and the one that has live culture.
12. Whole grains
Unlike refined grains, whole grains are high in fiber content. If you have diabetes, you need to consume more fiber than others. Fiber is low in calories, our body cannot digest it – hence no sugar spikes – and it makes us feel full. Fiber also helps control blood sugar levels and cholesterol.
Look for cereals and bread that have whole wheat flour, whole oat, and whole-grain cornmeal. Go for whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta. Add vegetables to your plate for some more fiber. Prefer brown rice over white rice. This is how you can consume more whole grains.
It is a delicious spice used in various cuisines across the world. A research study comparing the results of 1, 3, and 6 grams of cinnamon taken daily for 40 days showed that cinnamon reduces serum glucose and reduces the cholesterol in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
Cinnamon imitates the insulin effect and also improves the insulin sensitivity – both these effects contribute to reducing blood sugar. People with diabetes should take into account the likelihood of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if they are to take large amounts of cinnamon.
Just sprinkle a small amount of cinnamon on food, and it’ll add to the flavor along with the provision of health benefits.
FOOD TO AVOID WITH DIABETES:
With diabetes, there are certain foods that you should consume in a limited amount or entirely avoid. These foods have a high glycemic index and are most likely to cause sugar spikes as you eat them. Here is a short list of such foods:
- Fried foods
- Processed meat
- Beverages high in sugar content
- Baked items
- Food with high salt content
- Dairy products that have high fat
Diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It is important for these individual to consume heart-healthy diet. Your goal should be to limit the intake of saturated fats, trans-fats, cholesterol, and sodium.
Diabetic diet aims to have optimal blood glucose levels, good lipid profile, and appropriate nutrients and energy for daily activities and growth needs of an individual.
Generally, people with diabetes should obtain calories from food in the following manner:
- 40-60 percent from carbohydrates
- 30 percent from fat (healthy fat)
- 20 percent from proteins
For a diabetic meal plan, one quarter of your plate should be filled with lean protein, one quarter with whole grains or starchy vegetables, and half of your plate should have non-starchy vegetables. In addition to this, you should have some side fruit and a cup of fat-free milk.
Not all fruits are the best choice if you have diabetes. Consider fruits that have a glycemic index less than 55.
Low glycemic index fruits include:
Lifestyle changes are essential to managing your diabetes. Other than a diabetic diet, limit smoking and alcohol consumption. Manage stress because it increases blood sugar levels. Get regular checkups, and aim for 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week.