Are you a diabetic and looking for the best foods for diabetes control? The good news is that this article has got you covered. Before going directly to the list of the best foods to control diabetes, we will briefly discuss about diabetes, its types and treatment through diet.
What is Diabetes?
A person is classified as diabetic if his fasting blood glucose level is more than 126mg per 100 ml. A diabetic has either one of the two conditions.
The first one is a lack of insulin secretion called diabetes mellitus type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetes.
The other one is a lack of cell response to insulin called diabetes mellitus type 2 or insulin-independent diabetes.
The second type of diabetes is more common and mostly occurs in old people. Insulin treatment is not that much effective as in type one.
Exercise and diet control are the first line of treatment in type 2 diabetes. Doctors recommend the patients to stop taking food rich in calories and fat.
Most people just stop only sugar intake which leads to deterioration of their sugar level. The reason is that your body is capable of converting fat and proteins into glucose and vice versa. So, you have to take the best foods for diabetes control that are vitamins rich foods with little calories.
The aim of diabetic treatment, though diet and exercise, is to maintain the blood sugar level at normal. Otherwise consistent high blood sugar level causes many health problems ranging from fatigue to heart attack.
It usually includes fruits and vegetables which have nutritional value with low fats and calories and have a low glycemic index.
The Glycemic index tells about the specific food how much it alters the blood sugar level. A diabetic person must choose those foods that have a low or medium glycemic index.
He should also opt for the food that stays in the digestive tract longer. So, it will not cause sharp changes in the blood sugar level as it will be absorbed slowly.
Well, a diabetes diet is not like those weight-loss diets, which include just water and salad. The diabetes diet consists of three meals a day at fixed times.
This regularity helps your body to utilize the insulin it produces plus any external insulin you take in a better way.
You can ask your dietitian for a customized diet plan. You can tell him the foods you like, the taste you prefer, and what you dislike.
He will devise the diet plan keeping those points in mind. He can also help you in improving eating habits and the timing of the meals.
List of the Best Foods for Diabetes Control
Below, we have mentioned some of the best foods for diabetes control.
1. Leafy Greens
Either you are diabetic or a healthy person; green leafy vegetables should be the compulsory part of your diet.
Green vegetables are fresh, highly nutritious, low in calories, and one of the best foods for diabetes control. They usually contain very low levels of carbs that raise blood sugar levels.
Green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals. These are essential for a healthy body and controlled sugar level.
Such as vitamin A in carrots are required for normal night vision. Vitamin C is rich in citrus fruits and vegetables like lemon and oranges.
It helps in wound healing, healthy gums, and reduced inflammatory markers. It also reduces fasting blood glucose levels in hypertensive people or types 2 diabetics.
Leafy greens also contain high quantities of antioxidants that protects many tissues from degeneration and damage from oxidants. For example, it protects from cataracts which is the major complication in people with diabetes.
Eggs are considered one of the best foods for diabetes control. They contain many nutrients with good high-density lipids that are good for the heart. They are a very good source of protein too.
People who eat eggs daily are found to have better cholesterol and sugar levels. They are a good source of antioxidants that will protect you from eye diseases.
The egg yolk is more nutritious than the white. So, never try to eat only egg white as many people prefer to do. Eggs are cheap and keep your tummy full for a longer time.
Turmeric is a famous spice in Asia and is extensively used in traditional Chinese herbal medicines.
Curcumin is the active compound, which lower risk of heart disease, sugar level, and inflammation. They also benefit kidneys as kidneys are one of the most common organs that suffer most in diabetics.
The problem with curcumin is that it is poorly absorbed in the intestine. To increase its absorption, try taking piperine, present in black paper. This increases the level of its absorption by 2000 percent.
No matter what type of nut it is, eat it. They all are very beneficial to the diabetics. They contain a lot of dietary fiber with a lower glycemic index.
Nuts are also rich in unsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals, and phytochemicals. They contain little digestible carbs. For example, 28 grams of almonds contain 2, 6 grams of digestible carbs.
One study found that diabetics who took 30 grams of walnuts daily for one year had lost weight and lower insulin levels. You might be surprised by the last part.
Type 2 diabetics have usually more than normal insulin levels, which makes them obese and causes other serious health problems such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.
5. Extra-virgin Olive Oil
People have started to use olive oil for cooking instead of sunflower oil. The reasons are the extreme health benefits it offers.
Olive oils are considered a mandatory part of the Mediterranean diet. It contains lower LDL, triglycerides, cholesterol, and high HDL. It also contains oleic acid. All these help a type 2 diabetic.
Many studies have linked olive oil with lower risk heart diseases. As it lowers the inflammation and protects the blood vessels.
Extra-virgin olive oil means it is unrefined. This means its antioxidants are retained well. That is why it is regarded as one of the best food for diabetes control. Always buy olive oil from some trusted company because many try to mix it with some cheap oils.
Kids hate it but it is a very nutritious vegetable. If you take half a cup of it, only 3 grams of carbs and 27 calories present in that. Still, it contains many vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and magnesium.
Studies have found that broccoli helps in lowering insulin levels. It also protects from free radical injury to cells. It contains a lot of antioxidants that help to protect from eye diseases.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
It is prepared by fermenting apples. During which fruit sugar is converted to acetic acid. The final product contains only 1 gram of carbs in 1 tablespoon.
As one of the best foods for diabetes control, it helps in lowering insulin levels and maintain sugar levels. It causes slow emptying of the stomach, so you keep feeling full.
In one such study, they found that diabetics who took 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before going to bed every night had a 6% reduction in fasting blood sugar. So you can start by taking 1 tablespoon of it every day and increasing to a maximum of 2 tablespoons. Try to put it on some fruit before eating.
Garlic is one of the most extensively used ingredients in ancient traditional medicines. It is not only used to treat diabetics but may other ailments.
Garlic helps in reducing blood sugar, improving insulin sensitivity, and insulin secretion. It also makes blood thinner due to its anticoagulant properties.
One study found that people who took metformin with garlic had a significant reduction in their fasting blood glucose and post-meal blood glucose level, compared to those who took only metformin.
You can try to take garlic any form. Either eat it raw or put it in some salad or cook it.
Legumes are rich in protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates. So, it falls under the category of the best foods for diabetes control. Legumes such as beans, chickpeas, peas, have a low glycemic index.
A study done in 2012 found that legumes helped people, with type 2 diabetes, in controlling sugar level and reduced their chances of coronary heath disease.
Yogurt is a very delicious dairy product. It has hundreds of health benefits. Is easy to digest and is highly nutritious.
It has been found that yogurt reduces the risk of heath disease and improves blood sugar levels. It also helps type 2 diabetics in reducing weight.
The unsweetened yogurt has a low GI level close to 50. But the sweetened yogurt contains too much sugar and carbs, diabetics should avoid it. Greek yogurt is best suited for diabetics.
Fish usually have zero or extremely low glycemic index. The reason is they contain no carbohydrates.
Coldwater fish is found to reduce the chances of developing diabetes type 2 in old people.
One study found that eating 75 to 100 grams of cod reduces the chances of developing diabetes type 2. This study was based on the data collected from 33,704 Norwegian women over a 5-year period.
But the reduction might be the direct effect of eating fish or may be due to an active lifestyle. It still is not clear.
The long term sugar level is usually determined by measuring the level of hemoglobin A1c. It forms when normal hemoglobin combines with a sugar molecule, mostly glucose.
Its level reflects the average blood sugar level for the last 2 to 3 months. Its normal level is below 6%, more than 6.4 % is considered as diabetic.
In one study, researches gave cinnamon to patients with type 2 diabetes for 90 days. When their HB A1c levels were measured, they were found to have a double reduction in HB A1c than those controlled groups (without cinnamon). Cinnamon is also linked to a lower cholesterol level.
Remember to use Ceylon cinnamon, not the cassia cinnamon because the former contains less coumarin than the latter. Coumarin causes health issues at higher doses.
Flaxseeds are used extensively because of their insoluble fiber made of lignin, which reduces the risk of heath diseases and helps in controlling sugar level.
Studies have found that people who regularly use flaxseeds have lower hemoglobin A1c levels and lower risk of strokes.
It also decreases the dose of medicine required for clot prevention. They also improve the health of the digestive tract and improves insulin sensitivity with a feeling of fullness.
You must grind the seeds as your body can’t absorb them as a whole. Try to store them in some cold place like the fridge so they don’t go rancid.
Other Ways to Lower Blood Sugar Levels
A healthy and well-balanced diet must be the first line of treatment for type 2 diabetics. Moreover, you can try the following strategies to help you further in managing your blood sugar levels.
- Drink a lot of water because diabetics suffer from frequent urination that can lead to dehydration.
- Exercise daily.
- Manage your stress levels.
- Never skip meals and stick to a fixed routine.
Why Diabetics Diet Plan Is Important?
When a person is diagnosed as diabetic or pre-diabetic, the doctor refers him to a dietitian – whose job is to devise a custom diet plan for the patient.
The goal of that diet plan is to keep the blood sugar level as close to normal as possible. The reason is that if blood sugar level stays high for long it causes many serious health issues.
When sugar level stays very high, it is called hyperglycemia. It occurs as a result of unchecked fat and calorie intake.
It leads to serious problems such as cardiovascular diseases including heart attack, fatigue, too much thirst, too much urination, dehydration, kidney damage, eye damage, and many others that lead to death.
In type 2 diabetes, weight loss is also associated with a controlled sugar level. For this reason, doctors advise exercising to lose bodyweight and fat.
You can combine exercise and best foods for diabetes control to achieve a controlled sugar level. Many people continue to live decades with diabetes by controlling their sugar level just with diet and exercise.so, you can do it too!