What Are the Best Breads for People with Diabetes?

Is bread an option for people with diabetes?

Food may be one of life’s simple pleasures. When you’re living with diabetes, deciding what to eat can get complicated. Foods that contain a lot of carbohydrates can spike your blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates are found in many different kinds of food, including desserts, grains, fruit, milk, vegetables, and bread. Giving up carbs completely isn’t realistic, healthy, or even necessary. What matters is that you’re aware of your carb intake and making nutritious food choices.

Breads can often be high in carbs. Some are overly processed, high in sugar, and filled with empty calories.

Healthier options can be part of a satisfying meal plan. If you’re trying to figure out which breads work best for diabetes management, this information may help.

Understanding diabetes

When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make or use enough insulin to process food well. Without enough insulin, your blood sugar levels can spike.

You may also have high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This means it’s important to keep an eye on fat and sugar intake.

Type 1 diabetes requires insulin injections daily and following a specific type of eating plan. This plan is geared toward keeping your blood sugar levels low.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you often follow an eating and exercise regimen geared toward reducing blood sugar. If diet and exercise aren’t enough to control your blood sugar, insulin injections or oral medication may be a part of a daily regimen.

Creating a food plan, making smart nutritional choices, and watching carbohydrate intake is recommended with both types of diabetes.

How can meal plans help?

Creating a meal plan can help control your blood sugar and provide satisfying nutrition. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan. It may help to try different ones to see which works best. Your doctor or dietitian can also help guide your choices and make recommendations.

Here are some meal plans to consider. Each plan emphasizes slow-digesting, high-fiber choices to minimize sudden blood sugar changes.

Carb counting

The carb counting method works by establishing a maximum number of carbs you can eat at each meal. There isn’t one number for everyone. Everyone’s carb intake should vary based on their exercise level, current health, and any medications they’re taking.

This meal plan, like all others, requires portion control. You also need to learn which types of carbs to eat, as well as how much.

There are three kinds of carbohydrates:

  • Complex carbohydrates, or starches, can be healthy and filling when eaten in appropriate amounts.
  • Sugar isn’t beneficial because it spikes blood sugar and adds empty calories to meals.
  • Fiber helps control blood sugar levels. The Joslin Diabetes Center recommends eating between 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day.

The plate method

The plate method doesn’t require carb counting.

Instead, half of your plate should include non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, green peppers, or kale. One quarter of your plate should contain grains and starchy foods, such as beans or bread. The remaining quarter should be filled with protein-rich foods.

Depending on your overall meal plan, you can add a serving of fruit daily. A low-calorie drink like unsweet tea or water should complete your meal.

Exchange lists

Exchange lists group similar foods together so they can be substituted easily for each other. You can find an example exchange list here. Every food on the list has the same nutritional value.

Breads are on the starch list. Each item on this list has approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein, a small amount of fat, and 80 calories. One slice of bread represents one exchange.

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How to make bread part of your meal plan

When deciding which breads to buy and which to avoid, make sure you read the nutritional information thoroughly.

The American Diabetes Association recommends choosing whole grain bread or 100 percent whole wheat bread instead of white bread. White bread is made from highly processed white flour and added sugar.

Here are some delicious and healthy breads to try:

  • Joseph’s Flax, Oat Bran and Wheat Pita Bread. You can’t have an authentic Mediterranean-style meal without pita pockets. This low-carb version has 8 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fiber per pita.
  • Food for Life’s 7 Sprouted Grains Bread. High in protein and fiber, this flourless bread has 15 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber per slice. Flavorful and filling, it’s perfect for breakfast, especially when toasted and served with poached eggs and berries. Other Food for Life breads and products are also good choices.
  • Alvarado St. Bakery’s Sprouted Wheat Multi-Grain Bread. This dense, rich bread gets its slight sweetness from molasses and honey. Despite the indulgent taste, it still packs a nutritional punch. Each slice has 15 grams of carbs, 5 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber.

Breads that are homemade, available at farmers markets, and made at local bakeries may be higher in fiber and lower in sugar. They will likely be less processed than those on grocery store shelves.

Processed foods are usually digested and absorbed faster. This can raise blood sugar levels.

With options like these, you may find it easier than you think to limit or remove less healthy breads from your meal plan. Consider eliminating high-carb options such as:

  • Pillsbury’s Date Quick Bread and Muffin Mix. At 28 grams of carbohydrates and 14 grams of sugar per slice, you may want to reserve these for special occasions or for company only.
  • Starbucks’s Butter Croissant. You’re probably better off eating breakfast at home than picking up this breakfast croissant with your morning coffee. Each one has 32 grams of carbs, less than 1 gram of fiber, and 11 grams of saturated fat.

Outlook

When you have diabetes, healthy eating requires learning about healthy meal choices. This information will help you determine which meal options work best for managing your blood sugar.

When it comes to choosing bread, reading labels and understanding nutrition facts can put you on the right track.

Look for bread that has the lowest amount of sugar, doesn’t have added sugars and is high in fiber, at least 3 grams per serving. A good rule of thumb is to look for a short ingredient list. In addition, remember that different breads affect people differently.

Consider checking your blood sugar before and after eating bread several times to understand how your body responds.

You may find that bread may have to be viewed more as a treat rather than a daily part of your diet based on your glucose response.

Consider creating a meal plan and talk to your doctor about other best practices for you.

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The Surprising Benefits of Ginger

Ginger Tea health benefits

Spices aren’t just a way to add zest and flavor to your favorite dishes. Many also provide hefty doses of antioxidants, nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.

Ginger, which comes from a flowering root plant, especially provides a variety of great health benefits. Found first in southeast Asia, the spice has been used in Eastern medicine practices since the 9th century — and is also a staple of Asian, Indian and Caribbean cuisines.

Dietitian Candace O’Neill RD, LDN, shares why ginger is both delicious and highly nutritious and shares the best ways to add this versatile spice into our daily diet.

What are the benefits of ginger?

By appearances alone, ginger doesn’t look like a body booster. When you’re eating ginger, you’re eating the root (called the rhizome), which resembles a smaller sweet potato or even a gnarled tree.

However, ginger packs a powerful punch. Not only does it contain vitamin C, magnesium and potassium, but it also provides multiple health benefits.

Pain relief

Fresh ginger boasts a potent compound called gingerol, which includes antioxidant properties and reduces inflammatory enzymes. As a result, ginger is “beneficial for inflammatory-related conditions and pain relief, specifically menstrual cramps and also arthritis-based conditions,” O’Neill says. For example, in a clinical trial, ginger showed promise at improving knee pain associated with osteoarthritis.

Dried ginger also contains anti-inflammatory compounds, but gingerol changes form when heated into a different compound that’s not as effective.

Interestingly, O’Neill says ginger’s been linked more to long-term pain relief rather than immediate pain relief. “When you take over-the-counter pain medication, it helps in an instant. Researchers studying the effects of ginger found the spice has a delayed effect. In a few days, people may anecdotally say, ‘You know what, I feel like I’m in less pain.’”

Improves blood sugar regulation

Gingerol could also explain ginger’s role in keeping blood sugar levels steady. Doing the latter is key to controlling the long-term health effects of Type 2 diabetes. “The ginger reduces enzymes that break down carbohydrates and so it helps with glucose (sugar) metabolism,” says O’Neill.

People with Type 2 diabetes often don’t produce enough insulin, which is key to ensuring glucose circulates throughout the body and doesn’t accumulate in the bloodstream. Ginger can also help regulate this: Studies have also found that ginger encourages your muscles to absorb glucose, without requiring you to take extra insulin.

This could lead to additional positive side effects. “When you’re insulin resistant, sometimes it can make it harder to lose weight,” O’Neill says. “Improved blood sugar regulation may help with weight loss and potentially make your body more sensitive to insulin.”

Reduces nausea

As a kid, your parents might have given you ginger ale to treat an upset stomach. However, it’s likely not the ginger that settled your tummy. “Most ginger ales don’t actually contain real ginger,” says O’Neill. “It’s probably more of the carbonation that helps settle someone’s stomach.”

Eating fresh ginger can help with various forms of nausea, however, including morning sickness, motion sickness and the side effects of some chemotherapy regimens. “Ginger may be helpful because it helps increase the way food moves through your GI tract, called gastric motility, and block serotonin receptors in our gut lining.” This can help silence nerves that trigger your vomiting reflex.

May help lower cholesterol

One study found that people who took ginger pills daily saw decreased levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol and bad cholesterol (otherwise known as low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) after 45 days, as compared to people who were given a placebo. However, more research is needed to definitively say that you can take ginger to lower cholesterol.

May inhibit bacteria growth

Some studies found that certain elements found in ginger (like gingerol) may have antibacterial properties, although more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions.

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Easy ways to incorporate ginger into your diet

Ginger is easy to add to your diet, in no small part because a little goes a long way. “People sometimes describe fresh ginger as tasting spicy-sweet, while dry ginger has more of a pungent taste,” O’Neill says.

You can buy ginger in fresh, dried or powdered form — or take ginger root and grate or ground it yourself at home to your desired consistency. “Ginger can be found in a few options at the grocery store,” O’Neill says. “You can purchase just the root itself. You can buy it dried, or you can consume pickled ginger or ginger in cheese.”

Ginger tea also offers health benefits, especially if you’re looking for relief from inflammatory conditions or nausea. However, O’Neill notes another common liquid, ginger beer, may not be the best choice for relief.

“Sometimes ginger beer has a lot of added sugar, which is not necessarily something that’s a health-forward thing to consume, especially if you’re concerned about an inflammatory condition like arthritis,” she says. “Drinking ginger tea would be probably more advantageous.”

How to store fresh ginger

You can find ginger these days at most grocery stores as well as at specialty shops. Either way, it’s best to pick a piece that looks and feels, well, fresh. Ginger should be firm, not soft or squishy, with yellow flesh. Its outer skin also shouldn’t be shriveled or show any signs of being limp or moldy, like discolored spots or a slimy texture.

Ginger root stays fresh in the refrigerator for about three weeks. Store it in a plastic bag — just squeeze the air out first — a paper bag, or an airtight glass container, and place it in the crisper. To keep it usable longer, store ginger root in the freezer and grate off a little chunk each time you’re using it in a recipe.

Storing dried ginger requires equal care. Be sure it’s in an airtight container and kept in a cool, dark place, such as a kitchen cabinet.

How much ginger should you take or use?

There’s no magic amount of ginger that makes a difference for inflammatory-related conditions and pain relief. However, don’t start taking a ginger supplement before consulting your doctor.

“High-dose supplements can actually cause nausea and gastric reflux,” O’Neill says. “High doses of ginger can also interact with blood-thinning medication. It’s always important to speak to a practitioner before you start taking any dietary supplement.”

Get in the habit of incorporating ginger-rich foods into your diet on an ongoing basis, so you experience the most health benefits. Luckily, because ginger tastes so good, we’re more inclined to eat it. “Which is important, because then we’re going to be introducing a healthier diet pattern,” O’Neill says. “This can help with reducing the risk of chronic disease — or helping to manage chronic disease.”

9 Easy, Natural Ways to Color Your Food

Natural food dyes

 

Special occasions seem to call for brightly colored foods. Birthday cakes bear swirls of colored icing. Holiday cookies and Easter eggs are decorated in many hues. Even St. Patrick’s Day beer can easily take on a green tint with a drop of food coloring.

It’s fun to experiment with turning your favorite foods various colors, but you don’t necessarily need food coloring or dyes to do it, says dietitian Laura Jeffers, MEd, RD, LD.

How to turn foods different colors

“When you can, add color with foods that truly enhance nutrition, such as dark green vegetables or fruit,” Jeffers says. You can try green, pink or purple smoothies by adjusting your use of greens (kale or spinach) and berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries). Here, Jeffers offers nine more colorful ideas:

  1. Juice your veggies. Include things like kale, spinach, parsley, or bell peppers for a nutritious green punch. You can add apples, grapes or peaches to sweeten things. Or you can simply mix the green juice into light-colored dressings — even cake batters — to add a hint of green color. About two teaspoons is all you need.
  2. Use water from boiled veggies or fruit. You can also boil green vegetables, such as peas, or red fruit, such as cranberries. Use the colored water that is left behind to color foods and recipes. It’s an easy, natural way to add  coloring to other foods.
  3. Try Japanese green tea. You can also try Matcha tea, a finely milled or powder green tea from Japan. Besides drinking it as a tea, you can use it as an ingredient in recipes. It not only turns foods green, but is rich in nutrients, antioxidants and fiber.
  4. Green mac ‘n’ cheese. Some kids love the idea of green macaroni and cheese. It’s a sneaky way to include some extra greens in your child’s diet. Make your macaroni and cheese green by taking a spinach puree or even avocado and mixing it with the cheese sauce to get that green color.
  5. Beets offer a natural way to color foods red or pink, and they are a good source of vitamin C, iron and magnesium. Look for the round, purplish-red variety. If you are making your own cake or cupcake frosting, you can start by juicing a teaspoon or two of beets. Then add the juice to your frosting and blend for pink or red icing.
  6. Pomegranate juice can offer a pinkish-red hue. It can be tricky to get the color right, but easier if you don’t mind pomegranate flavor in whatever you are making. You can experiment with red velvet cupcakes that include boiled down pomegranate juice.
  7. Turmeric or saffron can make foods yellow. As your rice is cooking, add turmeric for a golden yellow color. Saffron is a more expensive option and if you go with the fresh variety, you may have to soak the stems in hot water/stock for 20 minutes before you add it to your dish. You can also grind saffron with a mortar/pestle.
  8. Paprika can offer orange or a deeper orange-red, depending on the peppers that are used. Heating paprika releases color and flavor. You can experiment with sprinkling ground, unheated paprika on foods when you want to add color but not flavor.
  9. Boiled onion peels can give a deep orange color to boiled eggs. You simply boil the outer peels of onion in water with the eggs; the longer the eggs stay in the water, the darker the color.

A few things to remember

Natural coloring made from foods tend to be less vivid than artificial color additives, Jeffers notes. It can be harder to control the color and consistency. Also, using food-based color can introduce other flavors. This can work well if the flavor enhances the food.

“Remember, the more vivid the color, the more likely it is that the taste is also affected,” she says. “It’s good to experiment.”

What Foods Can You Eat to Lose Weight?

Father and son cutting up fruit for the week

What if you concentrated on eating more foods that are good for you rather than trying desperately to completely avoid the bad ones? Can you actually eat more and still lose weight?

Registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD, says you can. Here’s how it works.

Most trendy diets include some sort of restriction — such as cutting out carbohydrates, gluten or dairy products — which makes them hard to sustain. Typically, once you stop following the diet’s restrictions, the weight comes right back.

“However, if you focus on adding more nutritious foods to your meals, as opposed to restricting foods, you’ll be more likely to lose weight and keep it off,” says Zumpano. “You won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself, so you’ll be more likely to maintain healthy eating habits.”

And, if you concentrate on incorporating a certain amount of healthy food into your meals every day — like aiming for between five and seven servings of fresh fruits and vegetables — you may find that you’ll naturally limit the not-so-healthy choices.

Which healthy foods are best to add?

Zumpano recommends these foods to eat to lose weight and to improve your health in general:

  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Whole grains.
  • Legumes like dried beans, peas and lentils (they also can be canned or frozen for convenience).
  • Plant based oils such as olive, avocado, sunflower, grapeseed or peanut.
  • Nuts and seeds.
  • Avocados.
  • Lean sources of protein like fish, shellfish, white meat, eggs or egg whites and tofu.
  • Calcium-rich foods like low fat yogurt, cottage cheese and milk.

When adding fruits and vegetables to your meals, try to eat those first. They’ll help you feel fuller so you can cut back on your main-course portions to accommodate the extra calories.

“Keep in mind that healthy foods tend to have a lot fewer calories than other foods, so you can eat the same amount of food overall and still lose weight,” says Zumpano.

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Quick tips for easily adding nutritious foods

  • Add something good to every meal: Start by adding a piece of fruit to your breakfast and a salad or other vegetable to your lunch and dinner.
  • Be prepared: Rinse and cut up fruits and vegetables during the weekend or at the beginning of the week. Then store them in containers in the refrigerator for easy use throughout the week.
  • Make it easy on yourself: If it helps you stay on track, you can buy fruits and vegetables that are already cut up and salad that is pre-washed and bagged. Or, buy frozen fruits and veggies to keep in your freezer so you always have them on hand. Try a fruit or veggie tray for convenience to snack on or pack up for meals.
  • Go for easy add-ins: Boost the nutrition in your salads by adding diced vegetables, seeds and nuts and using an oil-and-vinegar dressing. Try balsamic vinegar, lime or lemon juice for extra flavor.

Swap bad foods for healthier options

After you start working more healthy foods in, take a look at the unhealthy foods you eat and see if you can come up with healthier alternatives. Here are a few examples:

  • If you typically eat hot dogs a few times a week but also like roasted chicken breast, swap out hot dogs in favor of chicken most of the time.
  • Replace ice cream with frozen yogurt or sorbet.
  • Replace milkshakes with fruit-and-yogurt smoothies.
  • Snack on a handful of nuts or seeds instead of potato chips.
  • Try whole-grain toast or cereal instead of pastries.
  • Commit to changing your dinner entrée from red meats to fish once or twice a week.
  • Opt for beans instead of potatoes in several meals each week.

Health benefits of adding nutritious foods to your diet

Eating additional nutritious foods and fewer foods that are unhealthy can do more than help you lose weight. It can also:

  • Decrease your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke.
  • Help regulate your digestion.
  • Lower your cholesterol.
  • Help improve your mood and reduce depression.
  • Allow yourself a few treats.

“It’s unrealistic to expect people to eat healthy all the time,” says Zumpano. “But if you want to lose weight and keep it off, aim to eat healthy foods at least 75% to 80% of the time. Allowing yourself to have some unhealthy foods will help you stay on track.”

When indulging in an unhealthy treat, try to choose food items that won’t exacerbate any chronic conditions you have, such as high cholesterol or diabetes. If you’re unsure which foods are safe and which you really should avoid, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian.

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

Can I Eat Watermelon If I Have Diabetes?

Watermelon is typically a summertime favorite. Although you may want to dish some of the sweet treat up at every meal, or make it your go-to summer snack, it’s important to check the nutritional information first.

If you have diabetes, you know how important it is to watch what you eat and monitor your blood sugar levels.

Watermelon does contain natural sugars. Depending on your overall diet and the amount of watermelon consumed, this may have an impact on your blood sugar level.

Keep reading to learn how adding watermelon to your diet may affect you.

The health benefits of watermelon

Native to West Africa, watermelon is a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals that include:

Vitamin A supports healthy vision and aids in the upkeep of your heart, kidneys, and lungs.

Vitamin C is also beneficial to a healthy diet and found in watermelon.

Vitamin C has been known to:

  • improve heart health
  • aid in the prevention of some cancers
  • help battle symptoms of the common cold

Because it’s high in fiber, eating watermelon can promote good digestive health.

Not only can eating moderate amounts of watermelon curb your craving for something sweet, it can also keep you feeling full longer. This is because watermelon is over 90 percent water.

In addition to keeping you hydrated, watermelon can help you stick to your diet and aid in weight management.

 

What the research says

There isn’t any research directly connecting watermelon consumption and diabetes management. That said, there’s some evidence to suggest that eating watermelon may help reduce your risk for certain diabetes-related complications.

Watermelon contains moderate amounts of lycopene, which is the pigment that gives the fruit its color. It’s also a powerful antioxidant.

Although more research is needed, lycopene may help reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. Early research suggests that the lycopene found in tomatoes may be linked to a reduced risk for heart disease.

Approximately 68 percent of people with diabetes who are age 65 or older die from some type of heart disease. Roughly 16 percent of people in this demographic die of stroke.

With this in mind, the American Diabetes Association has classified diabetes as one of seven manageable risk factors for heart disease.

Where does watermelon fall on the glycemic index?

The glycemic index (GI) looks at how fast food sugar enters the bloodstream. Each food item is given a value between 1 and 100. These values are determined according to how each food compares to a reference item. Sugar or white bread is generally used for reference.

Glycemic load (GL) is the combination of the GI and the actual carbohydrate content in a typical serving of food. It’s argued that the GL gives a more real-world value of how a specific food can affect blood sugar levels.

People who are managing their diabetes by carbohydrate counting often use this approach. Foods with a low or medium GI are considered less likely to raise your blood sugar levels.

A GI of 55 or less is considered to be low. A GI between 55 and 69 is generally considered to be medium. Anything over 70 is considered to be high.

A GL under 10 is low, 10 to 19 is medium, and 19 and above is considered high.

Watermelon typically has a GI of 72 but a GL of 2 per 100 gram serving. The GL of watermelon is low, and it can be eaten in moderation like all fruit as part of a balanced meal.

What are some other diabetes-friendly fruits?

Although eating watermelon has its benefits, you should consider balancing your diet with fruits that have a lower GI. Be sure to pick up fresh fruit whenever and wherever possible, as it doesn’t have any added sugars.

If you want to buy canned or frozen fruit, remember to choose canned fruits packed in fruit juice or water, rather than syrup. Be sure to read the label carefully and look for hidden sugars. You can also drain or rinse those packed in syrup.

Dried fruit and fruit juice should be consumed less often than fresh fruit. This is due to:

  • calorie density
  • sugar concentration
  • smaller recommended portion sizes

Diabetes-friendly fruits with a low GI include:

  • plums
  • grapefruit
  • peaches
  • apricots
  • pears
  • berries

What does this mean for me, my diet, and my diabetes care?

If you want to add watermelon to your weekly meal plan, it’s best to look at your diet as a whole. Watermelon has a higher GI, yet a low GL. Keep an eye on portion sizes and test glucose levels after eating watermelon to see how your body responds.

Talk to your healthcare provider about how you want to add variety to your diet. They’ll review your current diet and look at your overall health profile.

They may refer you to a dietitian to help you determine the best eating plan.

A dietitian can:

  • answer all of your questions
  • recommend portion sizes
  • advise you on possible substitutes

After talking with your doctor and dietitian, make sure to track your physical response to adding watermelon or other new foods to your diet. Share your tracking information with them on your next visit.

Is It Safe For Diabetics To Have Oranges?

Diabetes: Is It Safe For Diabetics To Have Oranges? Here's The Answer

Fresh and seasonal fruits are an intrinsic part of a healthy diet. They are rich in a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients that are essential to carry out various body functions. Health experts often emphasize on the need of including fruits of all types and colors in one’s diet. But if you happen to be a diabetic, you need to be a little cautious of what you have on your plate, even when it comes to fruits. Fruits that have high sugar content or glycaemic index like chikoo and melons are not very advisable for diabetics. Whereas, consuming fruits like guavas and tomatoes has been linked to lowered blood sugar levels. Oranges too, are said to be beneficial for diabetics. Read on to know why.

Diabetes Management: Why Should You Add Oranges To Diabetes Diet 

The American Diabetes Association has listed citrus fruits among Diabetes superfoods. According to the association, citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits and lemons are full of fiber, vitamin C, folate and potassium, which would help benefit a healthy diabetic eating plan.
Oranges are full of fibre. Fibre takes longest to break down and digest. This enables the slow release of sugar into the bloodstream, which would further ensure that your blood glucose levels are stable for a long period of time. Moreover, the glycaemic index of raw oranges is just about 40-43. The Glycaemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrates in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbs with low GI value (55 or less) are digested, absorbed and metabolized slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood glucose. Diabetics are advised to include more low GI foods in their diets

Diabetes Management: Eat Whole, Don’t Juice It 

Make sure you have the fruit raw and whole for maximum benefits. Drinking its juice may cost you some healthy fibres and shoot up the blood sugar levels. A study published in the journal Diabetes Care, revealed that eating citrus fruits could lower the risk of diabetes in women, but drinking the fruit juice may prove detrimental to their blood sugar levels.

The GI score of unsweetened orange juice is also around 50, as compared to the GI score of whole orange (40)

20 Best Vegetables for Diabetes

Vegetable skewers

Eating a wide variety of foods, including a mix of certain vegetables, can help people with diabetes stay healthy while enjoying a range of meals.

Low-GI vegetables

The GI ranking of a food shows how quickly the body absorbs glucose from that food. The body absorbs blood sugar much faster from high-GI foods than low-GI foods.

People with diabetes should eat vegetables with a low GI score to avoid blood sugar spikes.

Not all vegetables are safe for people with diabetes, and some have a high GI. Boiled potatoes, for example, have a GI of 78.

The GI scores for some popular vegetables are:

  • Frozen green peas score 39 on the GI index.
  • Carrots score 41 when boiled and 16 when raw.
  • Broccoli scores 10.
  • Tomatoes score 15.

Low-GI vegetables are also safe for people with diabetes, such as:

  • artichoke
  • asparagus
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • green beans
  • lettuce
  • eggplant
  • peppers
  • snow peas
  • spinach
  • celery

It is important to note that the GI gives a relative value to each food item and does not refer to the specific sugar content. Glycemic load (GL) refers to how much glucose will enter the body in one serving of food.

High-nitrate content

Nitrates are chemicals that naturally occur in specific vegetables. Some manufacturers use them as preservatives in foods.

Eating natural, nitrate-rich foods can reduce blood pressure and improve overall circulatory health. People should choose vegetables with naturally high nitrate content, rather than those with nitrate that manufacturers have added during processing.

Nitrate-rich vegetables include:

  • arugula
  • beets and beet juice
  • lettuce
  • celery
  • rhubarb

Protein

Protein-rich foods help people feel fuller for longer, reducing the urge to snack between meals.

Daily protein recommendations depend on a person’s size, sex, activity level, and other factors. People can speak to a doctor for the best insight on what their ideal daily protein intake should be.

Pregnant or lactating women, highly active people, and those with large bodies need more protein than others.

Vegetables higher than some others in protein include:

  • spinach
  • bok choy
  • asparagus
  • mustard greens
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cauliflower

Fiber

Fiber should come from real, natural food, not supplements, making vegetables essential in a glucose-controlled diet. Fiber can help reduce constipation, reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol, and help with weight control.

The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics say that the correct amount of fiber per day is 25 grams (g) for women and 38 g for men.

This recommendation varies, depending on body size, overall health, and similar factors.

Vegetables and fruits with high fiber content include:

  • carrots
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • artichoke
  • Brussels sprouts
  • split peas
  • avocados

Good carbohydrates provide both nutrients and energy, making them a safe, efficient, and nutritious food choice for people with diabetes.

Low-to-moderate-GI vegetables, such as carrots, improve blood glucose control and reduce the risk of weight gain.

Nitrate-rich foods, such as beets, are among the best vegetables for people with type 2 diabetes who also have a higher than usual risk of cardiovascular disease. This fact remains true despite their high carbohydrate content.

The key to effective food management is to boost vegetable intake and reduce carbohydrate consumption elsewhere in the diet by cutting down on foods such as bread or sugary snacks.

A person with diabetes should include sufficient amounts of fiber and protein in the diet. Many dark, leafy greens are rich in fiber, protein, and other vital nutrients.

Fiber can help control blood glucose levels. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes have excellent fiber content.

Vegetables also support improved levels of healthy cholesterol and lower blood pressure. As with protein, fiber can make people feel fuller for longer.

Eating vegan or vegetarian with diabetes

Eating a vegan or vegetarian diet can prove challenging for people with diabetes. Animal products generally have the most protein, but vegans completely avoid dairy and other animal products.

Some of the most protein-rich vegan options include:

  • lentils
  • beans and chickpeas
  • peas
  • almonds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • amaranth and quinoa
  • sprouted-grain bread
  • soy milk
  • tofu and tempeh

A vegan or vegetarian person who has diabetes can eat a balanced diet. Whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lentils offer plenty of protein often with low calories.

Healthful diabetes meals

Any meal that blends several of the above ingredients will offer excellent nutrition.

To keep meals healthful and flavorsome, people with diabetes should avoid using too much added salt or relying on prepackaged ingredients that are high in sodium.

Careful calorie counting will also support glucose control. Excess calories can turn an otherwise healthful meal into a risk factor for excessive weight gain and worsened insulin sensitivity.

Some simple meal options include:

  • avocado, cherry tomato, and chickpea salad
  • hard-boiled eggs and roasted beets with black pepper and turmeric
  • low-sodium cottage cheese spread on toasted sweet potato slices. Add black or cayenne pepper to boost the flavor
  • tofu burger patty with spinach and avocado
  • spinach salad with chia seeds, tomatoes, bell peppers, and a light sprinkling of goat’s cheese
  • quinoa and fruit added to unsweetened Greek yogurt with cinnamon
  • quinoa with pepper or vinaigrette season, or on its own
  • almond butter on sprouted-grain bread with a topping of avocado and crushed red pepper flakes

Balancing less healthful foods with more nutritious ones is a way to remain healthy while also satisfying a sweet tooth. For instance, eating a cookie or two per week is usually fine when balanced by a high-fiber, plant-rich diet.

People with diabetes should focus on a balanced, overall approach to nutrition. There is a risk that forbidding certain foods can make them feel even more appealing. This can lead to poorer control over food choices and raised blood sugar over time.

Vegetables are bursting with nutrition, but they are just one part of managing a lifestyle with diabetes.

People should eat a wide variety of foods from all food groups and plan to stop eating 2–3 hours before bedtime, in most cases, as 12 or more hours of nighttime fasting helps glucose control.

A doctor or dietitian can provide an individualized diabetes meal plan to ensure that a person with the condition receives a wide enough range of nutrients in healthful proportions.

9 High-Cholesterol Foods to Eat and Avoid

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Remember when experts said to avoid cholesterol-rich foods like eggs? The thought was that cholesterol in food raised your blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease. However, recent studies have found that some high-cholesterol foods may not raise your heart disease risk after all.

Still, this doesn’t mean you can ignore the amount of cholesterol you consume. “It’s safe to have some cholesterol in your diet,” says registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD. “But many high-cholesterol foods also contain high amounts of saturated fat.”

Zumpano explains how to make sense of the confusing cholesterol advice out there, and what foods high in cholesterol are best to eat — or leave at the store.

High-cholesterol foods to avoid

While some cholesterol in your diet is fine, lots of saturated fat isn’t. Diets high in saturated fat are linked to increased blood cholesterol and heart disease risk.

Experts recommend limiting or avoiding the following “unhealthy” high-cholesterol foods, which are also high in saturated fat:

Full-fat dairy

Whole milk, butter and full-fat yogurt and cheese are high in saturated fat. Cheese also tends to be high in sodium, and most Americans get too much sodium, too.

Limit cheese to about 3 ounces per week, and choose part-skim cheese such as Swiss or mozzarella when cooking. Drink skim (non-fat), 1% or 2% milk to get your calcium intake. Look for non-fat or low-fat yogurt varieties. Use extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil instead of butter.

Red meat

Steak, beef roast, ribs, pork chops and ground beef tend to have high saturated fat and cholesterol content.

Choose 90% lean ground beef, lean cuts of beef (such as sirloin, tenderloin, filet or flank steak, pork loin or tenderloin), and focus on lower-fat sources of animal protein, such as baked skinless or lean ground poultry.

Processed meat

You should limit processed meat in general because of its high sodium content and low nutrition. In fact, bacon, sausage and hot dogs are usually made from fatty cuts of beef or pork.

If you must eat processed meat, choose minimally processed sausage or deli meat made from lean turkey or chicken.

Fried foods

French fries, fried chicken with skin and other foods cooked in a deep fryer have a high amount of saturated fat and cholesterol from the oil they’re cooked in.

A better choice is baked chicken or turkey without the skin, baked potatoes or baked “fries” tossed with a little olive oil.  Try using an air fryer for a lower-fat “fried” food taste.

Baked goods and sweets

Cookies, cakes and doughnuts usually contain butter or shortening, making them high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

They also tend to be full of sugar, which can lead to high levels of blood triglycerides, an unhealthy blood fat (lipid) that can be a risk factor for coronary heart disease.

Instead, make your desserts at home, choosing recipes that don’t need shortening or lots of butter. This also allows you to modify recipes and cut down the amount of sugar used, to half or three-quarters the recommended amount. You can also enjoy baked fruit as a dessert, or substitute applesauce for eggs or butter in your baking.

Best high-cholesterol foods to eat

These high-cholesterol foods can be part of a heart-healthy diet:

Eggs

The cholesterol in eggs gets a bad rap. One egg contains about 60% of the daily value of cholesterol, but it only contains 8% of your allowance for saturated fat. Eggs are high in protein, low in calories and contain B vitamins, iron and disease-fighting nutrients. If you do have to watch your cholesterol, stick to egg whites, which contain plenty of protein without any of the cholesterol.

Shellfish

Some types of shellfish are higher in cholesterol than others. Shrimp is notoriously high in cholesterol, packing in more than half of your daily value in a 3-ounce serving, but its saturated fat content is practically nonexistent. And shellfish is a good source of protein, B vitamins, selenium and zinc.

Lean meat

Certain kinds of lean meat are high in cholesterol but low in saturated fat. These include liver (and liver pate), kidney, sweetbreads, heart, and tripe. While you might not find these meats appealing, they are better options than processed or red meat.

Still, Zumpano says even if these foods are best eaten in moderation, especially eggs and shellfish. “They have nutritional benefits that may outweigh the cholesterol content. But if you have high cholesterol, eat limited amounts of these foods. Stick to a weekly intake of four egg yolks or two servings of shellfish.”

 

Moderation is key

You don’t have to eliminate all the unhealthy high-cholesterol foods in your diet. Most people can, in moderation, eat “healthy” high-cholesterol foods — those that have high cholesterol but low saturated fat content.

It’s most important to focus on your overall diet and make healthy choices most of the time. “Enjoy the less healthy foods as occasional treats, not as everyday meal choices,” Zumpano says.

And if you’re not sure where to start with a healthy eating plan, ask your healthcare provider. A licensed nutritionist or registered dietitian can customize a diet that works with your health goals.

Which Sugar Substitutes Are Good for Diabetes?

Low-calorie sweeteners, or sugar substitutes, can allow people with diabetes to enjoy sweet foods and drinks that do not affect their blood sugar levels. A range of sweeteners is available, each of which has different pros and cons.

People with diabetes must take special care to avoid blood sugar spikes. Controlling blood sugar is important for avoiding the more severe complications of diabetes, including nerve damage and cardiovascular disease.

Choosing alternative sweeteners is one way of maintaining sweetness in food and drink. However, not all alternative sweeteners are good options for people with diabetes. Agave syrup, for example, provides more calories than table sugar.

In this article, we look at seven of the best low-calorie sweeteners for people with diabetes.

1. Stevia

Sugar and sweeteners on wooden table and wooden spoons with leaves

Stevia is a natural sweetener that comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant.

To make stevia, manufacturers extract chemical compounds called steviol glycosides from the leaves of the plant.

This highly-processed and purified product is around 300 times sweeter than sucrose, or table sugar, and it is available under different brand names, including Truvia, SweetLeaf, and Sun Crystals.

Stevia has several pros and cons that people with diabetes will need to weigh up. This sweetener is calorie-free and does not raise blood sugar levels. However, it is often more expensive than other sugar substitutes on the market.

Stevia also has a bitter aftertaste that many people may find unpleasant. For this reason, some manufacturers add other sugars and ingredients to balance the taste. This can reduce the nutritional benefit of pure stevia.

Some people report nausea, bloating, and stomach upset after consuming stevia.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classify sweeteners made from high-purity steviol glycosides to be “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS. However, they do not consider stevia leaf or crude stevia extracts to be safe. It is illegal to sell them or import them into the U.S.

According to the FDA, the acceptable daily intake (ADI) of stevia is 4 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of a person’s body weight. Accordingly, a person who weighs 60 kg, or 132 pounds (lb), can safely consume 9 packets of the tabletop sweetener version of stevia.

Various stevia products are available to purchase online. Click here to check them in Amazon

 

2. Tagatose

Tagatose is a form of fructose that is around 90 percent sweeter than sucrose.

Although it is rare, some fruits, such as apples, oranges, and pineapples, naturally provide tagatose. Manufacturers use tagatose in foods as a low-calorie sweetener, texturizer, and stabilizer.

Not only do the FDA class tagatose as GRAS, but scientists are interested in its potential to help manage type 2 diabetes.

Some studies indicate that tagatose has a low glycemic index (GI) and may support the treatment of obesity. GI is a ranking system that measures the speed at which a type of food increases a person’s blood sugar levels.

Tagatose may be particularly beneficial for people with diabetes who are following a low-GI diet. However, this sugar substitute is more expensive than other low-calorie sweeteners and may be harder to find in stores.

Tagatose products are available to purchase online. Click here to check them in Amazon

3. Sucralose

Top down view of woman sprinkling sugar or coconut into bowl of flour while baking

Sucralose, available under the brand name Splenda, is an artificial sweetener made from sucrose.

This sweetener is about 600 times sweeter than table sugar but contains very few calories.

Sucralose is one of the most popular artificial sweeteners, and it is widely available. Manufacturers add it to a range of products from chewing gum to baked goods.

This alternative sweetener is heat-stable, whereas many other artificial sweeteners lose their flavor at high temperatures. This makes sucralose a popular choice for sugar-free baking and sweetening hot drinks.

The FDA have approved sucralose as a general-purpose sweetener and set an ADI of 5 mg/kg of body weight. A person weighing 60 kg, or 132 lb, can safely consume 23 packets of a tabletop sweetener version of sucralose in a day.

However, recent studies have raised some health concerns. A 2016 study found that male mice that consumed sucralose were more likely to develop malignant tumors. The researchers note that more studies are necessary to confirm the safety of sucralose.

A range of sucralose products is available to purchase online. Click here to check them in Amazon

4. Aspartame

Aspartame is a very common artificial sweetener that has been available in the U.S. since the 1980s.

It is around 200 times sweeter than sugar, and manufacturers add it to a wide variety of food products, including diet soda. Aspartame is available in grocery stores under the brand names Nutrasweet and Equal.

Unlike sucralose, aspartame is not a good sugar substitute for baking. Aspartame breaks down at high temperatures, so people generally only use it as a tabletop sweetener.

Aspartame is also not safe for people with a rare genetic disorder known as phenylketonuria.

The FDA considers aspartame to be safe at an ADI of 50 mg/kg of body weight. Therefore, a person who weighs 60 kg, or 132 lb, could consume 75 packets of aspartame in the form of a tabletop sweetener.

Many different aspartame products are available to purchase online. Click here to check them in Amazon

5. Acesulfame potassium

Acesulfame potassium, also known as acesulfame K and Ace-K, is an artificial sweetener that is around 200 times sweeter than sugar.

Manufacturers often combine acesulfame potassium with other sweeteners to combat its bitter aftertaste. It is available under the brand names Sunett and Sweet One.

The FDA have approved acesulfame potassium as a low-calorie sweetener and state that the results of more than 90 studies support its safety.

They have set an ADI for acesulfame potassium of 15 mg/kg of body weight. This is equivalent to a 60 kg, or 132 lb, person consuming 23 packets of a tabletop sweetener version of acesulfame potassium.

A 2017 study in mice has suggested a possible association between acesulfame potassium and weight gain, but further research in humans is necessary to confirm this link.

6. Saccharin

Sweeteners in individual packets in tray

 

Saccharin is another widely available artificial sweetener.

There are several different brands of saccharin, including Sweet Twin, Sweet’N Low, and Necta Sweet. Saccharin is a zero-calorie sweetener that is 200–700 times sweeter than table sugar.

According to the FDA, there were safety concerns in the 1970s after research found a link between saccharin and bladder cancer in laboratory rats.

However, more than 30 human studies now support the safety of saccharin, and the National Institutes of Health no longer consider this sweetener to have the potential to cause cancer.

The FDA have determined the ADI of saccharin to be 15 mg/kg of body weight, which means that a 60 kg, or 132 lb, person can consume 45 packets of a tabletop sweetener version of it.

People can purchase a range of saccharin products online. Click here to check them in Amazon

7. Neotame

Neotame is a low-calorie artificial sweetener that is about 7,000–13,000 times sweeter than table sugar. This sweetener can tolerate high temperatures, making it suitable for baking. It is available under the brand name Newtame.

The FDA approved neotame in 2002 as a general-purpose sweetener and flavor enhancer for all foods except for meat and poultry. They state that more than 113 animal and human studies support the safety of neotame and have set an ADI for neotame of 0.3 mg/kg of body weight.

This is equivalent to a 60-kg, or 132-lb, person consuming 23 packets of a tabletop sweetener version of neotame.

Considerations

When choosing a low-calorie sweetener, some general considerations include:

  • Intended use. Many sugar substitutes do not withstand high temperatures, so they would make poor choices for baking.
  • Cost. Some sugar substitutes are expensive, whereas others have a cost closer to that of table sugar.
  • Availability. Some sugar substitutes are easier to find in stores than others.
  • Taste. Some sugar substitutes, such as stevia, have a bitter aftertaste that many people may find unpleasant. Make sure that the manufacturers have not added chemicals or other sweeteners that reduce the nutritional benefit.
  • Natural versus artificial. Some people prefer using natural sweeteners, such as stevia, rather than artificial sugar substitutes. However, natural does not always mean lower-calorie or more healthful.
  • Add fruit instead of sweetener: Where possible, add a sweet fruit to a meal instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners. Options include strawberry, blueberry, and mango.

 

Summary

Many people with diabetes need to avoid or limit sugary foods.

Low-calorie sweeteners can allow those with the condition to enjoy a sweet treat without affecting their blood sugar levels.

Although the FDA generally consider these sugar substitutes to be safe, it is still best to consume them in moderation

4 Ways You Can Avoid Stinky Feet

When temperatures rise, your body perspires more, and that includes your feet. Closed-toe shoes plus hot weather or sweating equals foot odor – or even infections such as athlete’s foot.

Foot odor and infections happen when the bacteria that live on your skin and in your shoes eat your sweat. (Ew!) This produces an acid byproduct that smells unpleasant, says podiatrist Joy Rowland, DPM.

“Bacteria and fungi and all those lovely little bugs love heat, moisture and darkness — and the inside of your shoe is the best place for that to happen,” she explains.

Here is some advice from Dr. Rowland on how to stop the stink in its tracks:

1. Soak your feet

Thoroughly cleaning your feet is more than rinsing them in a quick shower. Dr. Rowland recommends soaking your feet in a mixture of vinegar and water or Epsom salt and water.

For a salt soak, dissolve half a cup of Epsom salt in a tub or large bowl of warm water and soak for about 10 to 20 minutes. Epsom salt pulls moisture out of your skin, which in turn makes a less-inviting place for bacteria to survive.

For a vinegar soak, combine two parts water with one part vinegar in a tub or large bowl of warm water and soak for 15 to 20 minutes once a week. You can use either white or apple cider vinegar. Vinegar makes your skin inhospitable to bacteria. One note of caution: do not use this soak if your feet have open sores, scratches or cuts or if the soak irritates your skin.

If you prefer the shower, it’s important to wash your feet thoroughly using a wash cloth and be sure to scrub between the toes.

2. Keep your feet dry

Whatever method you choose, be sure to dry your feet well after bathing, soaking or swimming. Unpleasant odor comes from moisture, so it’s important to keep feet, shoes and socks as dry as possible, Dr. Rowland says.

If your feet get sweaty as the day goes on, put an extra pair of socks in your bag and change your socks at lunchtime or after your workout.

You also can help keep your feet dry by choosing socks made of cotton, and shoes made of natural materials such as cotton or leather. These natural materials allow the moisture on your feet to evaporate. Man-made materials such as nylon or plastic trap moisture.

3. Disinfect your shoes

Are your shoes surrounded by a green cloud of odor even when you’re not wearing them? You don’t have to throw them away. A general-purpose disinfectant spray like the kind you use in your kitchen can take care of that nasty smell coming from your kicks. Look for a kitchen spray that contains ethanol and other sanitizing ingredients, which kill the bacteria.

“Take the insole out of the shoe, lightly spray the insole, and let it dry for 24 hours. Then when you put the insole back in the shoe, you’ve treated the shoe,” says Dr. Rowland.

4. Use powder

If you notice that your feet sweat, you could try an over-the-counter foot antiperspirant. Or go the home-remedy route and sprinkle a little corn starch into your shoe to keep your feet dry.

“You can even use a regular underarm antiperspirant — that will definitely help to control the moisture,” says Dr. Rowland.

If you can’t seem to solve the odor problem and it’s time to bring in reinforcement, ask your doctor for a prescription medication designed to treat foot moisture.