High-Cholesterol Foods to Eat and Avoid

cholesterol, diet and nutrition, good cholesterol, heart health, heart healthy diet, high cholesterol, nutrition, recipe swaps

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, but 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. Registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD, explains how to make sense of the confusing cholesterol advice out there.

Should you eat a low-cholesterol diet?

“It’s safe to have some cholesterol in your diet,” Zumpano says, “but many high-cholesterol foods also contain high amounts of saturated fat.”

And therein lies the problem with many high-cholesterol foods: 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.

Most people can, in moderation, eat “healthy” high-cholesterol foods — those that have high cholesterol but low saturated fat content. But limit or avoid “unhealthy” high-cholesterol foods, which are also high in saturated fat. Here’s how to stock your kitchen.

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.
  • 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.

“Eggs and shellfish have nutritional benefits that may outweigh the cholesterol content,” Zumpano says. “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.”

That said, egg whites contain plenty of protein without any of the cholesterol. So enjoy egg whites all you like — just keep track of how many whole eggs or egg yolks you’re consuming.

High-cholesterol foods to limit and healthy swaps

Most other high-cholesterol foods are also high in saturated fat. Because saturated fat is linked to a higher risk of heart disease, it’s best to limit or avoid these foods. These swaps will help you find healthier options.

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.

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

Processed meat

Bacon, sausage and hot dogs are usually made from fatty cuts of beef or pork.

Healthy swap: Limit processed meat in general because of its high sodium content and low nutrition. Instead, choose minimally processed sausage or deli meat made from lean turkey or chicken.

Red meat

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

Healthy swap: Use 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.

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.

Healthy swap: Eat 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.

Healthy swap: Make your desserts at home, choosing recipes that don’t need shortening or lots of butter. You can also enjoy baked fruit as a dessert, or substitute applesauce for eggs or butter in your baking. Cut sugar in half or to three-quarters the recommended amount, as sugar can lead to high levels of blood triglycerides which are another unhealthy blood fat (lipid) that can be a risk factor for coronary heart disease.

Moderation is key

You don’t have to eliminate all the unhealthy high-cholesterol foods. 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 certified nutritionist or registered dietitian can customize a diet that works with your health goals.

Is Sugar Bad for Your Heart?

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Tiramisu, chocolate mousse, crème brulee. Desserts are your jam. (Ooh! Jam!) Unfortunately, all those sweets may not be doing wonders for your heart.

“Excess sugar can increase the risk of heart disease, both directly and indirectly,” says registered dietitian Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD, who specializes in preventive cardiology nutrition.

Here’s what to know about how sugar affects your heart and arteries and how to embrace a less-sweet diet.

Negative effects of sugar: obesity

Sugar is delicious, but a little goes a long way — especially when it comes to your health. Research shows that people who eat a lot of added sugars are at greater risk of dying from heart disease compared to people whose diets aren’t so sweet.

Sugar affects the heart in several ways. Among the most obvious is weight gain. “A diet high in sugar can contribute to obesity. And obesity drives up the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol — all of which can increase the risk of developing heart disease,” Patton explains.

Weight isn’t the whole story, though. “A high-sugar diet is bad for you no matter what you weigh,” Patton says. “If you eat a lot of sweets and processed foods, you’re probably not getting enough of the good stuff, like the fruits, vegetables and whole grains that are part of a heart-healthy diet.”

Sugar and your heart  

Sugar may also act on your heart and arteries directly. Research suggests that diets high in sugar affect your heart in several ways:

  • Triglycerides: When you overeat, your body stores extra calories as a type of fat called triglycerides. Sugary diets can increase triglycerides in your body. And having high levels of triglycerides raises the risk of heart disease.
  • LDL cholesterol: Weight gain connected to diets high in sugar can lead to higher levels of LDL cholesterol. LDL — commonly called “bad cholesterol” — causes artery-clogging plaque that can damage blood vessels and your heart.
  • Blood pressure: Obesity tied to sugar-laden diets may contribute to high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Inflammation: Sugar can cause inflammation throughout your body. A sugar-rich diet can lead to chronic inflammation, which can stress your heart and blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease.

Added sugar: How much is too much?  

Not all sugars are created equal. Natural sugars, found in foods like milk and fruit, can be part of a healthy diet. What you want to watch for are added sugars.

Added sugars include the white table sugar, honey or maple syrup you stir into your coffee or drizzle on pancakes. Added sugars are also common ingredients in processed foods. You find them in sweet treats like soda, sweetened yogurt, cookies and ice cream.

But added sugar is also hiding in places you might not expect it, like canned soups or hamburger buns. “Foods like bread can have a lot of added sugar, even though you might not taste it,” Patton says.

That makes it easy to eat too much added sugar without even realizing it. How much is too much? The American Heart Association recommends no more than:

  • 100 calories (about 6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day for women.
  • 150 calories (about 9 teaspoons) per day for men.

How to cut back on sugar  

Cutting back on sugar takes a little effort, but it’s easier than it used to be. “Nutrition labels are now required to show added sugars, so it’s easier than ever to keep track of the sugar in your diet,” Patton says.

She offers these tips if you’re trying to de-sweet your diet:

Do away with sugary drinks

Sugar-sweetened beverages like soft drinks and juices are a major source of added sugar. One can of soda can have more than the daily recommended limit. “The number one thing you should do to lower sugar intake: Don’t drink your sugar,” Patton says.

Learn the lingo

Added sugar goes by lots of names. If you’re reading ingredient lists, beware of sugar aliases such as:

  • Agave nectar.
  • Barley malt.
  • Cane juice or cane syrup.
  • Corn syrup.
  • Dextrose, fructose, maltose or sucrose.
  • Honey.
  • Molasses.
  • Rice syrup.

Make smart swaps

If you’re craving sweet, try using natural sweeteners in place of added sugar. Stir fruit into plain yogurt instead of buying the fruit-on-the-bottom kind. Add berries to your oatmeal instead of brown sugar. “Those substitutions can really add up to make a difference,” she says.

The thought of giving up the sweet stuff might make you bitter. But if you cut back gradually, you’ll tame your sweet tooth. Eventually, you won’t even miss it.

“You don’t have to avoid sugar completely, but moderation is key,” Patton says. “Cutting back and finding healthy substitutes is good for your heart and your overall health.”

5 Tips to Prevent Gum Disease If You Have Diabetes

brushing teeth when you have diabetes

Gum disease, also known as gingivitis, has been called the fifth complication of diabetes behind heart, nerve, kidney and eye disease. Gingivitis is simply the inflammation of the gums around your teeth caused by plaque buildup.

So, why are you more at risk for developing gingivitis if you have diabetes? Diabetes educator Sue Cotey, RN, sheds some light on this question.

Gum disease begins with bacteria build up on and around your teeth that extends into the gums. Cotey says there is no difference between the bacteria in the mouth of someone with diabetes compared with someone without diabetes. “The reason gum disease is worse if you have diabetes is because you have a greater inflammatory response to this bacteria,” she explains.

Why gum disease makes it more difficult to control blood sugars

If you develop gum disease and it’s left untreated, it can lead to something called periodontitis, or an erosion of your jaw bone. This, in turn, can lead to loose teeth and damage to the gums. People with uncontrolled diabetes tend to get periodontitis more often than the average person or those who keep their diabetes under control.

Some signs that you have gum disease include:

  • Red, swollen and/or bleeding gums.
  • Loose or sensitive teeth.
  • Persistently bad breath.

If you have diabetes and have moderately advanced periodontal disease, it can be more difficult for you to control your blood sugars. “You may need deep cleaning, antibiotics or even oral surgery depending how advanced the gum disease is,” Cotey says.

In her 25 years of being a diabetes educator, Cotey says she has seen firsthand the relationship between gum health and diabetes management. “I’ve witnessed on multiple occasions that when people with diabetes see the dentist and address any current issues related to gum disease or inflammation, their blood glucose levels respond almost immediately,” says Cotey.

5 tips to avoid gum disease

Follow these tips to steer clear of gum disease:

  • Avoid acidic drinks like soda, energy drinks and water with lemon. These can erode the enamel of your teeth, which can lead to decay.
  • Floss daily between each tooth, sliding up and down and back and forth gently to avoid bleeding.
  • Brush your teeth and gum line for two full minutes, two times each day. Use a soft bristle brush using gentle strokes and make sure you reach all of your teeth. The goal is to get rid of plaque buildup. To do this, vibrate your brush across the tooth surface, the gum line and your gums.
  • Remember to gently brush your tongue for a few seconds, too, to get rid of bacteria.
  • See your dentist at least once a year and report any of the signs mentioned above immediately.

Other oral concerns if you have diabetes

People with diabetes are also more likely to have a dry mouth due to elevated blood glucose or medications. To avoid dry mouth, Cotey recommends chewing sugar-free gum, using a mouth gel or eating some sugar-free candy to stimulate saliva production. “If these don’t help, talk to your dentist for recommendations,” she says.

And if you’re into having a super white smile, you’re in luck! Cotey says many over-the-counter teeth whiteners are mild enough to be used by people with diabetes too.​

Can People with Diabetes Eat Carrots?

 

People with diabetes may find themselves wondering what the best dietary recommendations are. One common question that pops up is, can people with diabetes eat carrots?

The short and simple answer is, yes. Carrots, as well as other vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, are non-starchy vegetable. For people with diabetes (and everyone else, for that matter), non-starchy vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet.

It’s important to pay attention to the carbohydrate content in food when you have diabetes. However, many foods that contain carbs also contain plenty of vitamins, minerals, and even fiber.

Some of these foods, especially non-starchy vegetables, have less of an impact on blood glucose levels. In this article, we’ll explore how carrots impact diabetes, and offer some helpful information about carbohydrates and diabetes.

Carrots and Diabetes

There’s truth behind the saying, “eat the rainbow.” Colorful fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients for a healthy diet. Carrots are well-known for containing beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. They also contain antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients.

A medium carrot contains only 4 grams of net (digestible) carbs and is a low-glycemic food. Foods that are low in carbs and low on the glycemic index tend not to have a very large impact on blood sugar levels.

Research also suggests that the nutrients in carrots may be beneficial to people with diabetes.

  • Vitamin A. In one animal study, researchers investigated the importance of vitamin A in blood glucose control. They found that mice with vitamin A deficiency experienced dysfunction in pancreatic β-cells. They also noticed a decrease in insulin secretion and subsequent hyperglycemia. These results indicate that vitamin A might play a role in blood sugar control for people with diabetes.
  • Vitamin B-6. B vitamins play an important role in many different areas of metabolism. One study found that a deficiency in vitamins B-1 and B-6 was common in people with type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, the initial development of diabetic nephropathy was more common if vitamin B-6 levels were low. This research suggests that low vitamin B-6 levels may negatively affect diabetes outcomes.
  • Fiber. Dietary fiber intake is an essential part of blood sugar management in diabetes. A recent review of 16 meta-analyses shows strong evidence that dietary fiber intake may help reduce the prevalence of type 2 diabetes. In addition, for people with diabetes, fiber intake can help reduce both long-term and fasting blood glucose levels.

A healthy diet

For people with diabetes, following a healthy diet is important in managing your condition. The National Institute of Health (NIH) emphasizes that the healthiest diet for diabetes contains foods from all of the food groups. This includes:

  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • grains
  • proteins
  • nonfat or low-fat dairy

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the best way to improve blood glucose levels is through diet and exercise. Eating a healthy diet can also help with weight loss. Even a 5 percent reduction in body weight can help improve blood sugar levels.

To expand on the NIH’s recommendations above, the ADA recommends the following tips for eating healthy with diabetes.

  • Eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, and zucchini. At least half of your plate should be filled with these types of nutritious vegetables.
  • The best type of protein for a healthy diet is lean protein. Roughly a quarter of your plate should be a lean protein source, such as chicken or fish. Avoid deep frying and charring your protein, try baking or lightly grilling instead.
  • Limit your carb intake per meal to roughly 1 cup or less. Try to eat carbs with high fiber content, as fiber helps improve blood sugar levels. Great sources of high-fiber carbs include beans, whole-grain breads, brown rice, and other whole-grain food products.
  • Fruits and low-fat dairy can make a great addition to a healthy meal. Be mindful to not overdo it on the portion size. A small handful of fresh berries or half a glass of low-fat milk can be a delicious after-dinner treat. Limit dried fruit and fruit juices as their carbs are more concentrated.

Sometimes you may have a craving for a treat, and the occasional sweet treat is fine. However, it’s important to be mindful of what you’re eating, and how much of it you’re eating.

Eating too many processed, sugary foods can negatively impact your blood sugar levels. These foods may also lead to weight gain and can have a poor impact on your overall health. Choosing lower-carbohydrate options in small amounts, and only occasionally, is the best way to treat yourself.

Is low-carb best?

In recent years, low-carb diets have been a popular dietary choice. In the health and wellness community, a low-carb diet has been recommended for diabetes.

There’s some truth to this suggestion. A 2018 consensus report from the ADA and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) states that a handful of diets — low-carb included — show benefits for those with diabetes.

According to the research, a low-carbohydrate diet (less than 26 percent of total energy) produced substantial reductions in HbA1c at 3 and 6 months, with diminishing effects at 12 and 24 months. This means that more extreme diets (like the ketogenic diet, which typically limits carbs to only 5 percent total intake), are not necessary to follow in order to see health benefits.

In addition, lowering carbohydrate intake too much can cause you to miss out on many important vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Ultimately, a low-carbohydrate diet may work for some people with diabetes, but it does not work for everyone. Both the ADA and EASD recommend that treatments for glycemic control, including dietary interventions, should always be individualized to the person.

Carb counting

People with diabetes who are required to take mealtime insulin must also engage in carb counting. This is done to match the amount of carbohydrates in your meal with the amount of insulin you’re injecting. Doing this will help you maintain your blood glucose levels.

Other people may count carbohydrates to have more control over how many carbs they’re eating per day.

When counting carbs, learning to read nutrition labels is key. It’s important to remember that not all carbs have the same effect on blood sugar levels. Therefore, calculating net carbs is a better way to count your carbs. To find the net carbs of a food, simply subtract the fiber content from the total carbohydrate content.

For example, one cup of chopped carrots has roughly 12.3 grams of total carbohydrates and 3.6 grams of fiber.

12.3 – 3.6 = 8.7

This leaves us with only 8.7 grams of net carbs in one cup of carrots.

If you’re interested in counting carbs to help manage your blood sugar levels, a nutrition professional or diabetes educator can teach you how.

Diet myths

Two of the most common diet myths for people with diabetes are that they can’t have any sugar, and that they must follow an extremely low-carb diet. As it turns out, this advice is outdated and untrue.

Sugar as a catchall term is more than just sweets and baked goods — fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are all “sugars” too. Therefore, the myth that people with diabetes can’t eat sugar is false. Processed and added sugars should be limited, but the ADA recommends continuing to eat both fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet.

An extremely low-carb diet is not necessary in blood sugar management, either. Extremely low-carb diets like the keto diet eliminate almost all carbohydrate intake.

However, even a low-carb Mediterranean diet has shown benefits for glycemic control. An extremely low-carb diet is neither necessary nor safe for every person that has diabetes. It’s important to see a dietitian or nutritionist before making these types of changes to your diet.

When to see a dietitian

If you have diabetes and are interested in eating a healthier diet, a trained nutrition professional can help. Dietitians and nutritionists can offer evidence-based suggestions on how to eat a healthier diet for your condition. If you want to dig even deeper, some nutrition professionals even specialize in nutrition for people with diabetes.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Find an Expert tool is a great way to find a nutrition professional in your area. The tool even allows you to search by specialty, which can help you find a diabetes specialist near you.

The bottom line

Carrots, among other non-starchy vegetables, are a great addition to a healthy diet for people with diabetes. They contain plenty of important nutrients that benefit blood sugar levels, such as vitamin A and fiber.

If you have diabetes, you should continue to incorporate vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein into your diet. For other suggestions on how to manage your blood glucose levels through diet, reach out to a nutrition professional near you.

The Link Between Diabetes and Sexual Dysfunction

man in white robe beside woman in white shirt

In the famous words of George Michael, “Sex is natural, sex is good.” Of course, we know the obvious — when the mood is right and the chemistry is there, sex can be mind-blowingly awesome.

From lowering blood pressure to even helping ease stress and anxiety, sex offers quite a few health-related benefits. But if you’re one of the 300+ million Americans living with Type 2 diabetes, sex might not be that spectacular to you.

Endocrinologist Shirisha Avadhanula, MD, explains how diabetes could impact your desire or ability to enjoy sex. And she offers suggestions to help you get back to having fun in the bedroom.

The sexual side effects of diabetes

“Sexual dysfunction includes any problems that happen within the sexual response cycle,” says Avadhanula. “Everything from attaining an erection to reduced libido can be an issue for people living with diabetes.”

Avadhanula says that while most of the studies focus on sexual dysfunction in men with diabetes, the disease affects women as well. “With both genders, the longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to experience sexual dysfunction in some way,” she says.

If you have diabetes, plus any of these symptoms, there may be a connection:

  • Lessened (or nonexistent) libido: Do you feign headaches more often than not to get out of sex?
  • Arousal inability: Does it no longer get up the way it used to? Or, have you stocked up on lubricant because you go through it so quickly?
  • Decreased sensation: Are you going through the motions without the promise of an orgasm?
  • Intercourse-related pain: Do you avoid sex because it just plain hurts?
  • Infections: Have you routinely experienced vaginitis or urinary tract infections?

Diabetes increases the risk of sexual dysfunction

There are several reasons people with diabetes experience sexual dysfunction more often than the general public.

“Obesity, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and depression are common conditions that occur alongside diabetes,” says Avadhanula. “Obesity can indirectly lead to erectile dysfunction (ED). Sleep apnea can cause ED for men or put women at a higher risk for sexual difficulties. Depression and anxiety can also negatively impact the libido or lead to the use of medication that affects sexual interest or function.”

Emotional health concerns

Men and women who wear an insulin pump may feel self-conscious. Plus, the time and energy spent managing diabetes and related conditions can take a toll on emotional health. This may lead to disinterest in sex or the use of a medication that negatively affects sexual function.

Hormonal changes

“Changes in testosterone or estrogen (because of diabetes, menopause or co-occurring conditions) can impact libido, lubrication and the ability to become sexually aroused,” says Avadhanula.

Less blood flow

Diabetes impacts blood flow, which could affect blood reaching the penis or vagina. For a man to achieve and sustain an erection, he needs blood to flow to the penis. In women, decreased blood flow could play a role in vaginal dryness.

Medication side effects

“High blood pressure medications may impact the ability to achieve or maintain an erection,” says Avadhanula. “And some medications which  help manage depression or anxiety are notorious for inhibiting arousal or sexual interest.”

Nerve damage

Having high levels of glucose can damage nerves. The tip of the penis and clitoris are loaded with nerves. If those nerves become damaged, the result might be decreased sexual sensation or even painful intercourse.

Diabetes doesn’t have to ruin your sex life

“The reasons for sexual dysfunction are different for each person. It’s the role of your provider to tease things out to get to the bottom of what’s causing the concerns,” says Avadhanula. “But some people go years without saying anything to their doctor.”

According to Avadhanula, approximately 80% of patients reported they prefer if a doctor asks about sexual function, so they don’t have to bring it up. “If your provider doesn’t ask about your sex life, bring up any concerns because sex is an important component of a high-quality life.”

Avadhanula says providers will ask a series of questions to determine the cause of the sexual dysfunction. Your provider will also perform a physical exam. This approach helps your doctor determine what the cause could be and how to treat it.

“There are treatment options for both men and women,” says Avadhanula. “You may not see instant success but keep talking with your care team to move to the next option. There is hope that you can resume an active, enjoyable sex life.”

21 Best Snack Ideas If You Have Diabetes

flowers on coconut shell

Choosing healthy snacks can be difficult when you have diabetes.

The key is to choose snacks that are high in fiber, protein and healthy fats. These nutrients will help keep your blood sugar levels under control.

It’s also important to snack on nutrient-dense foods that promote overall health.

This article discusses 21 excellent snacks to eat if you have diabetes.

1. Hard-Boiled Eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are a super healthy snack for people with diabetes.

Their protein content really makes them shine. One large hard-boiled egg provides 6 grams of protein, which is helpful for diabetes because it keeps your blood sugar from rising too high after you eat (12).

In one study, 65 people with type 2 diabetes ate two eggs daily for 12 weeks.

By the end of the study, they experienced significant reductions in their fasting blood sugar levels. They also had lower hemoglobin A1c, which is a measure of long-term blood sugar control (3).

Eggs are known to promote fullness, an important aspect of managing type 2 diabetes. This disease is associated with a greater likelihood of becoming overweight and developing heart disease (4567).

You can enjoy a hard-boiled egg or two for a snack on their own, or garnish them with a healthy topping like guacamole.

2. Yogurt with Berries

Yogurt with berries is an excellent diabetes-friendly snack for a variety of reasons.

First, the antioxidants in berries may reduce inflammation and prevent damage to cells of the pancreas, the organ responsible for releasing hormones that lower blood sugar levels (89).

Additionally, berries are a great source of fiber. For example, a 1-cup (148-gram) serving of blueberries provides 4 grams of fiber, which helps slow digestion and stabilize blood sugar levels after eating (1011).

Yogurt is also known for its ability to lower blood sugar levels. This is partly due to the probiotics it contains, which may improve your body’s ability to metabolize foods that contain sugar (12).

Furthermore, yogurt is rich in protein, which is well-known for helping keep blood sugar levels under control. Greek yogurt is especially high in protein (13).

Yogurt and berries taste great together as a snack, as the sweetness of the berries helps balance out the tartness of the yogurt. You can simply mix them together, or layer them on top of each other to make a parfait.

3. Handful of Almonds

Almonds are very nutritious and convenient to snack on.

A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of almonds provides more than 15 vitamins and minerals, including 32% of the recommended daily intake for manganese, 19% for magnesium and 17% for riboflavin (14).

Research has shown almonds may help control blood sugar in people with diabetes. In one study, 58 people who included almonds in their diets every day for 24 weeks experienced a 3% decrease in their long-term blood sugar levels (15).

In another study, 20 adults with diabetes who consumed 60 grams of almonds daily for four weeks experienced a 9% reduction in their blood sugar levels.

They also had decreased levels of insulin, a hormone that may worsen diabetes if levels are consistently high (16).

The ability of almonds to help stabilize blood sugar is likely due to the combination of fiber, protein and healthy fats they contain, all of which are known to have an important role in diabetes management (14).

What’s more, almonds have been shown to benefit heart health by reducing cholesterol levels and may also promote weight management, both of which are major factors in preventing and treating type 2 diabetes (16171819).

Since almonds are quite high in calories, it is best to limit your portion size to about a handful when eating them as a snack.

4. Veggies and Hummus

white ceramic bowl with soup

Hummus is a creamy spread made from chickpeas. It tastes great when paired with raw veggies.

Both vegetables and hummus are good sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Additionally, hummus provides lots of protein, with 3 grams per tablespoon (15 grams). All of these properties may benefit blood sugar control in people with diabetes (2021).

One study found that individuals who consumed at least 1 ounce of hummus at a meal had blood sugar and insulin levels that were four times lower than a group that consumed white bread at a meal (22).

You can experiment with dipping several types of vegetables in hummus, such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and bell peppers.

5. Avocado

If you have diabetes, snacking on avocado may help manage your blood sugar levels.

The high fiber content and monounsaturated fatty acids in avocados make them a diabetes-friendly food. These factors may prevent your blood sugar from spiking after a meal (2324).

One study found that individuals with type 2 diabetes who included sources of monounsaturated fatty acids in their diets on a regular basis experienced significant improvements in their blood sugar levels (25).

You can eat avocado on its own, or make it into a dip such as guacamole. Since avocados are quite high in calories, it is best to stick with a serving size of one-fourth to one-half an avocado.

6. Sliced Apples with Peanut Butter

Sliced apples paired with nut butter make for a delicious and healthy snack that’s great for people with diabetes.

Apples are rich in several nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin C and potassium, while peanut butter provides significant amounts of vitamin E, magnesium and manganese, all of which are known to help manage diabetes (26272829).

Both apples and peanut butter are also very high in fiber. One medium apple combined with 1 ounce (28 grams) of peanut butter provides almost 7 grams of fiber, which is helpful for keeping your blood sugar under control (112730).

Apples have been studied specifically for their potential role in diabetes management. The polyphenol antioxidants they contain are thought to protect pancreatic cells from damage that often worsens diabetes (3031).

You can also try pairing other types of fruit with peanut butter, such as bananas or pears, for similar health benefits.

7. Beef Sticks

Beef sticks are convenient, portable and diabetes-friendly.

What makes beef sticks an excellent snack for people with diabetes are their high protein and low carb contents.

Most beef sticks provide around 6 grams of protein per ounce (28 grams), which may help keep your blood sugar under control (32).

If possible, you should choose beef sticks that are made with grass-fed beef. Compared to grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their potential role in keeping blood sugar levels stable (3334).

It is important to note that beef sticks can be high in sodium, which can lead to high blood pressure in some people if consumed in excess. Thus, if you eat beef sticks, make sure to consume them in moderation.

8. Roasted Chickpeas

yellow corn on glass bowl

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are an incredibly healthy legume.

There are close to 15 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber in a 1-cup (164-gram) serving of chickpeas, making them an excellent snack for people with diabetes (35).

Research has shown that consuming chickpeas on a regular basis may play a role in preventing the progression of diabetes, thanks to their potential to help manage blood sugar levels (36).

In one study, 19 adults who consumed a chickpea-based meal daily for six weeks had significantly lower blood sugar and insulin levels after eating, compared to individuals who ate a wheat-based meal (37).

One way to make chickpeas easy to snack on is by roasting them, which makes them crunchy and convenient. They taste great when roasted with olive oil and seasonings of your choice.

9. Turkey Roll-Up

Turkey roll-ups are an easy snack to make.

They are essentially a breadless sandwich wrap consisting of turkey breast slices wrapped around low-carb contents of your choice, such as cheese and veggies.

Turkey roll-ups are a great snack option for people with diabetes due to their low carb and high protein contents. One wrap provides about 5 grams of protein, which will help prevent your blood sugar levels from rising too high (2).

In addition, the protein in turkey roll-ups may help lower your appetite, which is beneficial for preventing overeating and promoting weight management. Both of these are key factors in controlling type 2 diabetes (238).

To make a turkey roll-up, simply spread a tablespoon (about 10 grams) of cream cheese onto a slice of turkey and wrap it around sliced veggies, such as cucumbers or bell peppers.

10. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a great snack for people with diabetes.

A half-cup (about 112-gram) serving of small-curd cottage cheese provides several vitamins and minerals, in addition to almost 13 grams of protein and only 4 grams of carbs (39).

Interestingly, eating cottage cheese may help manage your blood sugar.

In one study, men who ate 25 grams of cottage cheese with 50 grams of sugar had 38% lower blood sugar afterward, compared to those who consumed sugar alone (40).

The blood sugar-lowering effects of cottage cheese are often attributed to its high protein content (414243).

If you choose regular cottage cheese rather than reduced-fat varieties, you’ll also take advantage of the blood-sugar-lowering properties of fat (414243).

Cottage cheese tastes great plain, but you can also combine it with fruit for extra nutrients and fiber.

11. Cheese and Whole-Grain Crackers

“Cracker sandwiches” are a popular snack, and you can make them on your own by topping a few whole-grain crackers with cheese slices.

They are a good snack choice if you have diabetes. While crackers can be high in carbs, the fat in the cheese and fiber in the crackers may prevent them from spiking your blood sugar (10114445).

Fat intake from dairy products such as cheese may slow the digestion of carbs, reduce insulin levels and promote the release of hormones that lower blood sugar, such as GLP-1 (444546).

Make sure you choose your crackers carefully, as many brands are high in refined flour and added sugar, which may negatively affect blood sugar levels. To avoid these ingredients, always choose crackers made with 100% whole grains.

12. Tuna Salad

vegetable salad

Tuna salad is made by combining tuna with mayonnaise and other ingredients, such as celery and onions.

A 3-ounce (84-gram) serving of tuna provides 22 grams of protein and no carbs, which makes it a great snack option if you have diabetes (47).

Additionally, tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help manage diabetes due to their potential to lower inflammation and improve blood sugar control (48).

You can make tuna salad even healthier and higher in protein by mixing it with cottage cheese or yogurt, rather than mayonnaise.

13. Popcorn

Popcorn is a very popular and healthy whole-grain snack food.

It has been deemed one of the best snack foods for people with diabetes, partly because of its low-calorie density. One cup (8 grams) of air-popped popcorn contains just 31 calories (4849).

Snacking on low-calorie foods may aid weight control, which is known to promote decreased blood sugar levels and better overall management of type 2 diabetes (5051).

In addition, popcorn provides 1 gram of fiber per 1-cup (8-gram) serving, which is another property that makes it a diabetes-friendly food (49).

Since most prepackaged popcorn is full of salt, trans fats and other unhealthy ingredients, it is healthiest to air-pop your own.

14. Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seed pudding is made by soaking chia seeds in milk until the mixture achieves a pudding-like consistency.

It’s a healthy snack for people with diabetes because chia seeds are rich in many nutrients that help stabilize blood sugar, including protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids (52).

The fiber in chia seeds can absorb a significant amount of water, which may help control diabetes by slowing down the digestion process and release of sugar into the blood (53).

Additionally, eating chia seeds has been shown to help lower triglyceride levels, which can be good for heart health. This is beneficial because individuals with diabetes tend to have a higher risk of developing heart disease (5455).

15. No-Bake Energy Bites

Energy bites are a fantastic snack idea for people with diabetes.

They are a delicious and healthy snack made by combining and rolling ingredients of your choice into balls. Some common ingredients include nut butter, oats, and seeds.

Most of the ingredients used to make energy bites are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats — three key nutrients known for keeping blood sugar stable (345657).

An added benefit of energy bites is their convenience. They don’t require baking, and you can carry them with you easily while you’re on the go.

16. Black Bean Salad

Black bean salad is a healthy snack.

To make it, simply combine cooked black beans with chopped vegetables, such as onions and peppers, and toss them in a vinaigrette dressing.

Since black beans are rich in fiber and protein, they make a healthy snack for individuals with diabetes. Eating them may prevent blood sugar spikes and help lower insulin levels after meals (58596061).

In one study, 12 people who consumed black beans with a meal had up to 33% lower insulin levels five hours after eating, compared to individuals who did not consume black beans (60).

Black beans have also been shown to benefit heart health by helping lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels (62).

17. Trail Mix

white ceramic bowl with brown nuts

Trail mix is a snack made by combining nuts, seeds and dried fruit.

A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of trail mix provides almost 4 grams of protein, which makes it a filling snack that may promote blood sugar control in people with diabetes (5763).

Trail mix also provides some healthy fats and fiber from the nuts and seeds, which have been shown to help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels (19).

The key is to avoid adding too much dried fruit to your trail mix, as it is quite high in sugar and may spike your blood sugar if you consume too much (64).

Additionally, it is very high in calories, so you should avoid eating too much trail mix at once. A reasonable serving size is about a handful.

18. Edamame

Edamame are unripe, green soybeans that are still in their pods. They are a very nutritious and convenient snack.

There are 17 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber in a 1-cup (155-gram) serving of edamame, making it a great snack for people with diabetes (65).

In fact, some animal studies have shown that edamame may help lower blood sugar levels (6667).

It may also improve insulin resistance, a condition in which cells are unable to use insulin effectively, leading to consistently high blood sugar levels (6667).

More research is needed to determine the effects of eating edamame on diabetes in humans, but having it as a snack is certainly worth a try.

Edamame is typically served steamed, and you can enhance its flavor by mixing it with seasonings of your choice.

19. Homemade Protein Bars

Protein bars are a great snack option for people with diabetes due to the significant amount of protein they provide.

Many store-bought protein bars are high in added sugar and other unhealthy ingredients, so it’s beneficial to make your own.

This recipe for homemade protein bars includes peanut butter, whey protein and oat flour. To lower its sugar content, you can reduce the amount of honey and omit the chocolate chips from the recipe.

You can also try Lara Bars, a popular type of protein bar made with a minimal number of ingredients.

20. Peanut Butter Celery Sticks

A popular way to enjoy celery sticks is by dipping them in peanut butter. It’s another healthy snack option for people with diabetes.

First, celery sticks are very low in calories, providing only 16 calories per cup (101 grams). This can help you manage your weight, which helps control type 2 diabetes (68).

Furthermore, celery contains antioxidants called flavones, which have been studied for their role in lowering blood sugar levels (69).

Adding a tablespoon or two (about 16–32 grams) of peanut butter to celery sticks adds some extra protein and fiber to the snack, which will benefit your blood sugar control even more (21011).

21. Egg Muffins

Egg muffins are made by mixing eggs with vegetables and then baking them in a muffin tin. They make a quick, healthy snack for people with diabetes.

The main benefits of this diabetes-friendly food are the protein from the eggs and fiber from the veggies. Eating these may help keep your blood sugar stable.

This egg muffin recipe combines eggs with bell peppers, onions and spinach, in addition to some seasonings and hot sauce.

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of healthy snack options to choose from if you have diabetes.

A good rule of thumb is to choose foods that are high in protein, fiber and healthy fats, all of which are known to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Individuals with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of obesity and chronic illnesses, such as heart disease. Thus, it is also important to focus on foods that are nutrient-dense and healthy overall.

Snacking when you have diabetes doesn’t have to be difficult. There are many quick and easy snacks you can prepare and eat even when you’re on-the-go.

5 Best Exercises for People with Diabetes

woman in pink sports bra and white leggings sitting on white and black kettle bell

If you have diabetes, exercise offers surprising benefits. Not only does it lower your stress levels, it may also lower your blood sugar level and may even reduce your insulin requirements.

Exercise is so important for people with diabetes that The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. And the American Diabetes Association recommends that you miss no more than two days of aerobic exercise in a row.

We asked diabetes specialists, Sue Cotey, RN, CDCES, and Andrea Harris, RN, CDCES about some of the best exercises if you have diabetes. Below are their recommendations on how much exercise is right for you, and some of the best ways you can get it.

5 exercises for people with diabetes

Try to make a habit of doing the following exercises on a regular basis, Cotey says. They’ll give you the maximum benefits to help you manage your diabetes, and are relatively easy to fit in each day.

  1. Walking — Because anyone can do it almost anywhere, walking is the most popular exercise and highly recommended for people with diabetes. Spending 30 minutes of brisk walking, five times each week is a great way to increase your physical activity. You can even break this 30 minutes down into 10-minute sessions three times a day.
  2. Tai Chi —This Chinese form of exercise uses slow, smooth body movements to relax the mind and body. Studies have shown those who complete tai chi sessions show significant improvement in blood sugar control. They also report increased vitality, energy and mental health.
  3. Yoga — A traditional form of exercise, yoga incorporates fluid movements that build flexibility, strength and balance. It’s helpful for people with a variety of chronic conditions, including diabetes. It lowers stress and improves nerve function, which leads to an increased state of mental health and wellness. According to the ADA, yoga may improve blood glucose levels due to improved muscle mass.
  4. Dancing — Dancing is not only great for your body. The mental work to remember dance steps and sequences actually boosts brain power and improves memory. For those with diabetes, it is a fun and exciting way to increase physical activity, promote weight loss, improve flexibility, lower blood sugar and reduce stress. Chair dancing, which incorporates the use of a chair to support people with limited physical abilities, makes dancing an option for many people. In just 30 minutes, a 150-pound adult can burn up to 150 calories.
  5. Swimming — Swimming stretches and relaxes your muscles and doesn’t put pressure on your joints, which is great for people with diabetes. For those with diabetes or at risk for developing diabetes, studies show it improves cholesterol levels, burns calories and lowers stress levels. To get the most benefit from swimming, we recommend that you swim at least three times a week for at least ten minutes and gradually increase the length of the workout. Lastly, let the lifeguard know that you have diabetes before you get in the pool.

Exercise safety

Before starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor to be sure the exercise you choose is safe and appropriate for your type of diabetes. Remember to start slowly, especially if you have not been physically active for a while.

Here are other safety tips:

  • Check your blood sugar before and after exercise until you are aware of how your body responds to exercise.
  • Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, make sure your blood sugar is less than 250 mg/dl before exercising. For people with Type 1 diabetes, exercising with a blood sugar higher than 250 mg/dl may cause ketoacidosis, which can be a life threatening condition resulting from a lack of insulin in the body. Do a five-minute warm-up before and a five-minute cool down after exercising.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to prevent dehydration.
  • Be prepared for any episodes of low blood sugar. Have something available that can bring sugar levels up, such as hard candy, glucose tablets or 4 ounces of juice.
  • Wear a medical alert ID band. If an emergency occurs, EMS will know how to treat you properly.
  • Always carry a cell phone.
  • Avoid exercising in extremely hot or cold temperatures.
  • Wear proper shoes and socks to protect your feet.

As with any exercise, always listen to your body. If you become short of breath, dizzy or lightheaded, stop exercising. Report any unusual problems you experience to your doctor.

How the Ketogenic Diet Works for Type 2 Diabetes

What is the keto diet?

Special diets for type 2 diabetes often focus on weight loss, so it might seem crazy that a high-fat diet is an option. The ketogenic (keto) diet, high in fat and low in carbs, can potentially change the way your body stores and uses energy, easing diabetes symptoms.

With the keto diet, your body converts fat, instead of sugar, into energy. The diet was created in 1924 as a treatment for epilepsy, but the effects of this eating pattern are also being studied for type 2 diabetes.

The ketogenic diet may improve blood glucose (sugar) levels while also reducing the need for insulin. However, the diet does come with risks. Be sure to discuss it with your doctor before making drastic dietary changes.

Understanding “high-fat” in the ketogenic diet

Many people with type 2 diabetes are overweight, so a high-fat diet can seem unhelpful.

The goal of the ketogenic diet is to have the body use fat for energy instead of carbohydrates or glucose. On the keto diet, you get most of your energy from fat, with very little of the diet coming from carbohydrates.

The ketogenic diet doesn’t mean you should load up on saturated fats, though. Heart-healthy fats are the key to sustaining overall health. Some healthy foods that are commonly eaten in the ketogenic diet include:

  • eggs
  • fish such as salmon
  • cottage cheese
  • avocado
  • olives and olive oil
  • nuts and nut butters
  • seeds

Effects on blood glucose

The ketogenic diet has the potential to decrease blood glucose levels. Managing carbohydrate intake is often recommended for people with type 2 diabetes because carbohydrates turn to sugar and, in large quantities, can cause blood sugar spikes.

However, carb counts should be determined on an individual basis with the help of your doctor.

If you already have high blood glucose, eating too many carbs can be dangerous. By switching the focus to fat, some people experience reduced blood sugar.

The Atkins diet and diabetes

The Atkins diet is one of the most famous low-carb, high-protein diets that’s often associated with the keto diet. However, the two diets have some major differences.

Dr. Robert C. Atkins created the Atkins diet in the 1970s. It’s often promoted as a way to lose weight that also controls numerous health issues, including type 2 diabetes.

While cutting excess carbs is a healthy step, it’s not clear if this diet alone can help diabetes. Weight loss of any kind is beneficial for diabetes and high blood sugar levels, whether it’s from the Atkins diet or another program.

Unlike the keto diet, the Atkins diet doesn’t necessarily advocate increased fat consumption. Still, you might increase your fat intake by limiting carbohydrates and eating more animal protein.

The potential drawbacks are similar.

Aside from a high saturated fat intake, there’s the possibility of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, from restricting carbs too much. This is especially true if you take medications that increase insulin levels in the body and don’t change your dosage.

Cutting carbs on the Atkins diet can potentially aid weight loss and help you control diabetes symptoms. However, there aren’t enough studies to suggest that Atkins and diabetes control go hand-in-hand.

Potential dangers

Changing your body’s primary energy source from carbohydrates to fat causes an increase in ketones in the blood. This “dietary ketosis” is different from ketoacidosis, which is an extremely dangerous condition.

When you have too many ketones, you may be at risk for developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is most prevalent in type 1 diabetes when blood glucose is too high and can arise from a lack of insulin. Although rare, DKA is possible in type 2 diabetes if ketones are too high. Being ill while on a low-carb diet may also increase your risk for DKA.

If you’re on the ketogenic diet, be sure to test blood sugar levels throughout the day to make sure they are within their target range. Also, consider testing ketone levels to make sure you’re not at risk for DKA.

The American Diabetes Association recommends testing for ketones if your blood sugar is higher than 240 mg/dL. You can test at home with urine strips.

DKA is a medical emergency. If you’re experiencing the symptoms of DKA, see your doctor immediately. Complications can cause diabetic coma.

The warning signs of DKA include:

  • consistently high blood sugar
  • dry mouth
  • frequent urination
  • nausea
  • breath that has a fruit-like odor
  • breathing difficulties

Monitoring your diabetes

The ketogenic diet seems straightforward. Unlike a typical low-calorie diet, however, a high-fat diet requires careful monitoring. In fact, you may start the diet in a hospital.

Your doctor needs to monitor both blood glucose and ketone levels to make sure that the diet isn’t causing any negative effects. Once your body adjusts to the diet, you may still need to see your doctor once or twice a month for testing and medication adjustments.

Even if your symptoms improve, it’s still important to keep up with regular blood glucose monitoring. For type 2 diabetes, testing frequency varies. Be sure to check with your doctor and determine the best testing schedule for your situation.

Research, the keto diet, and diabetes

In 2008, researchers conducted a 24-week study to determine the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on people with type 2 diabetes and obesity.

At the end of the study, participants who followed the ketogenic diet saw greater improvements in glycemic control and medication reduction compared to those who followed a low-glycemic diet.

2013 review reported that a ketogenic diet can lead to more significant improvements in blood sugar control, A1c, weight loss, and discontinued insulin requirements than other diets.

2017 study also found the ketogenic diet outperformed a conventional, low-fat diabetes diet over 32 weeks regarding weight loss and A1c.

Other beneficial diets

There’s research that supports the ketogenic diet for diabetes management, while other research seems to recommend opposing dietary treatments like a plant-based diet.

2017 study found that people with diabetes who followed a plant-based diet experienced significant improvements in blood sugars and A1c, cardiovascular disease risk factors, gut bacteria that is responsible for insulin sensitivity, and inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein.

Outlook

The ketogenic diet may offer hope to people with type 2 diabetes who have difficulty controlling their symptoms. Not only do many people feel better with fewer diabetic symptoms, but they may also be less dependent on medications.

Still, not everyone has success on this diet. Some may find the restrictions too difficult to follow over the long term.

Yo-yo dieting can be dangerous for diabetes, so you should only start the ketogenic diet if you’re sure you can commit to it. A plant-based diet may be more beneficial for you both short and long term. Your dietician and doctor can help you determine the best diet choice for managing your condition.

While you may be tempted to self-treat with a more “natural” route through dietary changes, be sure to discuss the keto diet with your doctor first. The diet may throw off your blood sugar levels, causing further issues, especially if you’re on medications for diabetes.

8 Best Fruits for a Diabetes-Friendly Diet

When you’re looking for a diabetes-friendly treat that can help keep your blood sugar within a healthy range, look no farther than the produce drawer of your refrigerator or the fruit basket on your kitchen table.

Believe it or not, the notion that fruit is not safe when you need to watch your A1C is a popular diabetes myth that has been debunked again and again. Indeed, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), many types of fruit are loaded with good-for-you vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber — a powerful nutrient that can help regulate blood sugar levels and decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Fiber — which can also be found in some of the best vegetables for diabetes, and in whole grains — can further benefit your health by promoting feelings of fullness and curbing cravings and overeating, research shows. Healthy weight maintenance can increase your insulin sensitivity and help in your diabetes management.

So, how do you pick the best fruits for diabetes? While some forms of fruit, like juice, can be bad for diabetes, whole fruits like berries, citrus, apricots, and yes, even apples — can be good for your A1C and overall health, fighting inflammation, normalizing your blood pressure, and more.

But as with any food in your diabetes diet, you have to be smart about counting carbohydrates and tracking what you eat. Portion size is key.

Consume fruit in its whole, natural form, and avoid syrups or any processed fruits with added sugar, which have the tendency to spike your blood sugar. Stick to the produce aisle and the freezer section of your grocery store. If you’re using the glycemic index (GI) or glycemic load — measures of how foods affect your blood sugar levels — to make dietary decisions, most whole fruits are a good choice because they tend to lie low on these rankings.

 

When you have diabetes, these steps will help you keep your blood sugar within a healthy range, thereby lowering your risk of certain diabetes complications, including neuropathy (nerve damage), kidney disease, eyesight issues like glaucoma, cataracts, or diabetic retinopathy, and life-threatening illnesses like heart disease and stroke.

The next time you have a hankering for something sweet, consider reaching for one of the following naturally sweet and juicy treats, courtesy of Mother Nature — you can whip it into a diabetes-friendly smoothie or keep it simple and throw it into your bag to munch on while you’re on the go.

1

Berries for a Refreshing Treat and Disease-Fighting Antioxidants

berries-for-a-diabetic-diet

Whether you love blueberries, strawberries, or any other type of berry, you have the go-ahead to indulge. According to the ADA, berries are a diabetes superfood because they’re packed with antioxidants and fiber. One cup of fresh blueberries has 84 calories and 21 grams (g) of carbohydrates, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If you can resist the urge to just pop them into your mouth, try berries in a parfait, alternating layers of fruit with plain nonfat yogurt — it makes a great dessert or breakfast for diabetes.

 

2

Tart Cherries Help Fight Inflammation

cherries-best-fruit-for-a-diabetic-diet

One cup of cherries has 52 calories and 12.5 g of carbs, per the USDA, and they may be especially good at fighting inflammation. Tart cherries are also packed with antioxidants, which may help fight heart disease, cancer, and other diseases, notes a review published in March 2018 in Nutrients. These fruits can be purchased fresh, canned, frozen, or dried. But since many canned and dried fruits contain added sugar, which can spike your blood sugar, be sure to check the labels.

3

Sweet, Juicy Peaches for Metabolism-Boosting Potassium

peaches-best-fruit-for-a-diabetic-diet

Fragrant, juicy peaches are a warm-weather treat and can also be included in your diabetes-friendly diet. One medium peach contains 59 calories and 14 g of carbohydrates, according to the USDA. It also has 10 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, which covers 11 percent of your daily value (DV) for that nutrient, and 285 mg of potassium (6 percent of the DV). The fruit is delicious on its own or tossed into iced tea for a fruity twist. When you want an easy diabetes-friendly snack, whip up a quick smoothie by pureeing peach slices with low-fat buttermilk, crushed ice, and a touch of cinnamon or ginger.

4

Apricots for a Scrumptious, Fiber-Rich Bite

apricots-best-fruits-for-a-diabetic-diet

Apricots are a sweet summer fruit staple and a wonderful addition to your diabetes meal plan. One apricot has just 17 calories and 4 g of carbohydrates, per the USDA. Four fresh apricots provide 134 micrograms (mcg) of your daily vitamin A requirement, which is 15 percent of your DV. These fruity jewels are also a good source of fiber. (Four apricots have 3 g of fiber, or 10 percent of the DV. Try mixing some diced fresh apricots into hot or cold cereal, or toss some in a salad.

5

Apples for a Quick Fibrous and Vitamin C–Rich Snack

apples-best-fruit-for-a-diabetic-diet

An apple a day really might keep the doctor away. Toss one in your purse or tote bag if you’re on the go; a medium-size apple is a great fruit choice, with just 95 calories and 25 g of carbs, notes the USDA. Apples are also loaded with fiber (about 4 g per medium fruit, for 16 percent of your DV) and offer some vitamin C, with one midsize apple providing 8.73 mg or about 9 percent of the DV. Don’t peel your apples, though — the skins are nutritious, with extra fiber and heart-protective antioxidants, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

6

Oranges for a Juicy, Refreshing Source of Vitamin C

oranges-best-fruit-for-diabetic-diet

Eat one orange and you’ll get 78 percent of the vitamin C you need in a day (there are 70 mg of C in one medium fruit). This refreshing choice comes in at only 15 g of carbohydrates and 62 calories, per the USDA. One medium orange also contains folate (40 mcg or 10 percent of the DV) and potassium (237 mg or 5 percent of the DV), which may help normalize blood pressure. And while you’re enjoying this juicy treat, don’t forget that other citrus fruits, like grapefruit, are also great choices.

7

Pears for Easy Snacking, Plus Vitamin K and Fiber

pears-best-fruit-for-a-diabetic-diet

Because pears are an excellent source of fiber (one medium fruit has nearly 5.5 g or 20 percent of the DV, per the USDA), they make a wise addition to your diabetes meal plan. Plus, unlike most fruit, they actually improve in texture and flavor after they’re picked. Store your pears at room temperature until they’re ripe and perfect for eating (they can then be stowed in the refrigerator), recommends USA Pears. Here’s a tasty treat: Slice up a pear and toss it into your next spinach salad.

8

Zesty Green Kiwi for Potassium, Fiber, and Vitamin C

kiwi-best-fruit-for-a-diabetic-diet

If you’ve never tried a kiwi, you may not know that its fuzzy brown peel hides a zesty bright green fruit. According to the USDA, one delicious, powerhouse kiwi has 215 mg of potassium (5 percent of the DV), 64 mg of vitamin C (71 percent of the DV) and 2 g of fiber (8 percent of the DV). One kiwi also has about 42 calories and 10 g of carbohydrates, so it’s a smart addition to your diabetes-friendly diet. Kiwis are available year-round and will last in the refrigerator for up to seven days, according to Zespri Kiwifruit.

How does diabetes affect wound healing?

wound dressing

When a person has diabetes, wounds can take longer to heal, which can increase the risk of infections and other complications developing.

A person who manages their diabetes well can improve the rate at which wounds heal and reduce the chances of developing a severe infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), around 30.3 million people in the United States have a type of diabetes, and many of these people experience complications caused by infected wounds.

In this article, we look at the effects of diabetes on wound healing and ways to reduce the risk of complications.

Diabetes and wound healing

For people with diabetes, wounds heal more slowly and are prone to infection.

Minor wounds, cuts, and burns are an unfortunate but unavoidable part of life. However, for people with diabetes, these injuries can lead to serious health issues.

Many people with diabetes develop wounds that are slow to heal, do not heal well, or never heal. Sometimes, an infection might develop.

An infection can spread to tissue and bone near the wound or more distant areas of the body. In some cases, and without emergency care, an infection can be life-threatening or may even be fatal.

Even when an infection does not develop in a wound, slow healing can adversely affect a person’s overall health and quality of life. Cuts or injuries on the feet or legs can make walking difficult or exercise painful.

It is essential that people who have diabetes keep their blood sugar levels under control to reduce the risk of slow-healing wounds and complications, including foot ulcers.

According to some reports, foot ulcers will develop in about 1 in 4 people with diabetes. Foot ulcers are painful sores that can ultimately lead to foot amputation.

According to an article in the American Journal of Managed Care (AMJC), about 230 amputations take place every day in the United States as a result of diabetes.

Causes

A 2013 study found a clear correlation between blood glucose and wound healing.

The research revealed that people undergoing surgery for chronic diabetes wounds were more likely to heal fully if they were controlling their blood glucose well at the time of surgery.

Diabetes causes impairment in the body’s production of or sensitivity to insulin, a hormone that allows the cells to take and use glucose from the bloodstream for energy. This disruption to insulin makes it more difficult for the body to manage blood glucose levels.

When blood glucose remains permanently high, it impairs the function of white blood cells. White blood cells are central to the role of the immune system. When white blood cells are unable to function correctly, the body is less able to fight bacteria and close wounds.

People with uncontrolled diabetes may develop poor circulation. As circulation slows down, blood moves more slowly, which makes it more difficult for the body to deliver nutrients to wounds. As a result, the injuries heal slowly, or may not heal at all.

Diabetes can also cause neuropathy (nerve damage), which can also affect wound healing. Uncontrolled blood glucose can damage the nerves, numbing sensations in the area. This may mean that people with diabetes who sustain trauma to their feet might not be aware of the injury.

If a person is not aware of an injury, they might not receive treatment, which might allow the wound to worsen. A combination of slow healing and reduced sensation in the area significantly increases the risk of infection.

People with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing a bacterial infection in the wound.

Factors that may increase this risk include:

  • impaired sweating
  • dry and cracked skin
  • toenail infections
  • foot abnormalities, such as Charcot’s foot

Other ways diabetes might affect wound healing include:

  • reduced production of growth and healing hormones
  • decreased production and repair of new blood vessels
  • a weakened skin barrier
  • reduced collagen production

Complications

amputee laughing

People who experience poor wound healing due to the effects of diabetes on the nerves and blood vessels might also experience other complications. These include heart disease, kidney disease, and eye problems.

If an untreated wound becomes infected, the infection may spread locally to muscle and bone. Doctors call this osteomyelitis.

If an infection develops in the wound and is left untreated, it can progress to the stage of gangrene. Gangrene is a common cause of amputations in people who lose limbs as a result of diabetes.

Sometimes, people with uncontrolled infections develop sepsis, which occurs when an infection spreads into the bloodstream. Sepsis can be life-threatening.

Prevention

People with diabetes can use specific strategies to improve the time it takes for a wound to heal. These include managing blood glucose, thorough foot care, and treating wounds as they occur.

Foot care for diabetes

Appropriate foot care includes:

  • washing feet daily
  • patting the skin dry before applying moisturizer
  • avoiding walking barefoot
  • carefully trimming toenails
  • wearing comfortable shoes
  • inspecting feet and looking inside shoes daily
  • having a doctor check the feet at each visit

Wound treatment

It is essential that people with diabetes carefully monitor their wounds. While wounds might heal slowly, it is not normal for them to remain open for several weeks, to spread, ooze, or become extremely painful.

While an infection might not develop in every ulcer or wound, the first step to preventing it is to clean the wound and cover it with a clean bandage. Repeat this daily.

It might be a good idea for people with diabetes to wear shoes and socks when walking around, especially if a wound has developed. Being barefoot increases the risk of infection.

People who have any type of diabetes should seek treatment if a wound develops on their foot and does not heal. A person will often need to take antibiotics to combat any infections and might require hospitalization if the wound is severe.

Glucose control

glucose control

People who manage their blood glucose levels are less likely to experience severe wounds that do not heal.

People with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin for life to control blood sugar. People with type 2 diabetes have more options — as well as taking insulin and other medications, making some lifestyle adjustments, such as a healthful diet, regular exercise, and weight management may substantially improve a person’s blood sugar levels.

These lifestyle changes may even allow a person to manage diabetes without medication.

People with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can benefit from a carbohydrate-controlled diet. Talk to a doctor who will individualize a meal plan that includes a specific amount of carbs that a person should eat each day.

Outlook

When a person has diabetes, a wound that does not heal can quickly become life-threatening. A positive outlook for slow-healing wounds depends on prompt treatment and effective glucose management.

People with diabetes should immediately contact a doctor when they develop serious or painful wounds that do not heal after several days, or if an infection seems to have developed.

A combination of aggressive antibiotic treatment, wound cleaning, surgical removal of dead tissue, and more effective glucose control may help. If the wound does not respond to treatment, amputation may be necessary.

People should take preventive steps before wounds develop to reduce the risk of wound healing complications.

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