If you have diabetes, you know how difficult it can be to manage your diet and control your blood sugar levels. Certain foods cause massive spikes while others actually lower blood sugar, but many people go through years of trial and error before they find out what works for them. Luckily, thanks to years of scientific findings, we’ve been able to determine what foods are better than others. In this article, we’ll discuss the 10 best foods to control diabetes and lower blood sugar.
To get the most out of your food, consider diabetic meal planning. Planning and preparing meals ahead of time will reduce the likelihood of snacking or unhealthy eating and will help you save time and energy throughout the week.
Non-starchy vegetables are one of the most healthy foods you can eat as a diabetic. Not only will they fill you up, but they’re full of essential vitamins and minerals that help regulate your blood sugar. Since they’re a whole food with trace amounts of sugar and high levels of fiber, you can eat as many non-starchy vegetables as you want without having to worry about high blood sugar spikes. To get the most out of your non-starchy vegetables, choose fresh, canned, or frozen vegetables that have no added salt or sauce.1 Some examples of non-starchy vegetables include the following:2
- Green Beans
- Hearts of Palm
- And more!
Many of the best leafy greens are considered non-starchy vegetables, but they deserve their own section. Leafy greens are packed full of nutrients and are lower in digestible carbs than other vegetables.3 This means that your blood sugar won’t raise very much regardless of how many you eat. Some of the best leafy greens to incorporate into your daily diet are spinach and kale, as they have very high levels of vitamin C.3 Vitamin C helps to manage diabetes in people with type 2 diabetes and can help promote an overall sense of wellbeing. Leafy greens also contain specific antioxidants that help to protect your eyes from diabetic complications.3
Regardless of if you have diabetes or not, fatty fish should be part of your diet. It’s one of the healthiest foods that you can eat and has a myriad of benefits. Fatty fish like salmon and anchovies give you a significant serving of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which can help protect your heart against potential complications from diabetes.3 DHA and EPA both protect your blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and improve the function of your arteries after consumption.3 Since your risk of heart disease and stroke are almost doubled if you have diabetes, incorporating fatty fish into a balanced diet can reduce your chances of serious complications. Plus, fatty fish is an excellent source of protein that will help you feel full and manage your weight with ease.
Nuts and Eggs
Other fatty foods that help control diabetes and help blood sugar management are nuts and eggs. Nuts have high levels of fiber and most are low in digestible carbs, so they won’t raise your blood sugar.3 It is important to differentiate certain types of nuts, however, as some of them have very high levels of digestible carbs. The best types of nuts for diabetics include almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts.3 If you’re watching your weight, make sure to eat nuts in moderation. Even though they’re high in healthy fats, it’s still fat and shouldn’t be over-done.
Eggs are also a great source of healthy fats that are beneficial in controlling diabetes. They can actually improve your insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation while simultaneously providing antioxidant benefits that help reduce the amount of free radicals in your body and protect against disease.3 If you incorporate eggs in your diet, make sure that you include the yolk as that’s where most of the nutrients are located.
Certain types of seeds are known to control diabetes. The two best seeds to eat as a diabetic are chia seeds and flax seeds. Chia seeds are packed with fiber, low in digestible carbs, and have been found to actually lower your blood sugar levels.3 As a diabetic, this is extremely conducive to healthy management.
Flaxseeds are also beneficial as they can help improve blood sugar control, decrease your risk of heart disease, and lower the chance of having a stroke.3 Since flaxseeds can be difficult to absorb, opt for ground seeds or make sure to take the time and grind them up at home before eating them. Ingesting whole flax seeds won’t give you any benefits.
Extra-virgin olive oil has always been known to have many health benefits. It is one of the most effective oils at reducing the risk of heart disease and contains a number of antioxidants that help to reduce inflammation, protect your cells, and decrease blood pressure.3 Choose pure extra-virgin olive oil to get all of the health benefits and sprinkle it on salads, use it in a marinade, or cook meats and vegetables with it.
Other natural fats that are helpful at controlling diabetes include coconut oil, avocado oil, any type of nut oil, lard, tallow, chicken fat, duck fat, coconut milk, and unsweetened coconut cream.2
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is popular amongst health food fanatics for a good reason. The fermented acetic acid helps to improve insulin sensitivity, lower fasting blood sugar levels, and reduce blood sugar response by as much as 20% when paired with meals that are rich in carbs.3 Due to the high acidity of apple cider vinegar, it’s best taken by the tablespoon mixed with water to avoid damaging your teeth and esophagus. Start slowly, with about one teaspoon, and work your way up based on how you feel.
Cinnamon and Turmeric
Spices are powerful tools, especially when it comes to controlling diabetes. Both cinnamon and turmeric should be incorporated into your diet daily to get the best results and doing so is easy with a few simple steps.
Cinnamon can be added to almost any food or drink to increase the flavor and add a little kick. Cinnamon has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce hemoglobin A1c levels.3
Turmeric also lowers inflammation and blood sugar levels, reduces your risk of developing heart disease, and benefits kidney health.3 Just make sure that you mix your turmeric with black pepper to activate the beneficial ingredient curcumin.
Probiotic Packed Dairy Foods
If you add any diary to your diet, make sure that it’s packed with healthy probiotics for the biggest benefits to your health. Greek yogurt is a great option since it’s low in sugar and high in probiotics. In studies done, Greek yogurt was found to improve blood sugar control and even reduce heart disease risks.3 Aim for unflavored Greek yogurt as the flavored versions are much higher in sugar and more processed, therefore may contribute to an increase in blood sugar.
If you’re looking for something sweet, try snacking on a cup of strawberries. Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants and have been shown to reduce both cholesterol and insulin levels after a meal.3 If you’re not a fan of strawberries and want to incorporate daily fresh fruit into your diet, opt for raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries, which tend to have lower sugar content than other fruits like apples and bananas.
Diabetes doesn’t mean that you can’t eat your favorite foods, but you do need to monitor your blood glucose levels to stay safe. By incorporating these 10 foods into your daily diet, you’ll give your body the nourishment it needs so you can indulge a little every now and then. If you need any blood glucose meters or continuous glucose monitoring devices, Byram Healthcare has you covered. We’re proud to provide you with the latest technology in diabetes management, including continuous glucose monitoring. We’ll work with your insurance provider and doctor to ensure you’re supported from start to finish, maximizing your coverage while minimizing out-of-pocket expenses. For more information and added support on diabetes management, sign up for Byram Healthcare’s Caring Touch At Home™ Program. The Caring Touch At Home™ Program combines convenience, affordability, and choice to deliver extensive service and support to people with diabetes.