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Best and Worst Foods for Diabetes

When you've got diabetes, your food choices matter a lot. Some are better than others.

To help you choose, here are lists of best and worst foods for:

Editor's Note: Food Pyramid Replaced

In June 2011, the USDA replaced the food pyramid with a new plate icon.

  • Breads, grains, and other starches
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Meat, meat substitutes, and other protein
  • Dairy
  • Fats, oils, and sweets

Foods that are in the "worst" group can be occasional treats. But in general, it will be easier to manage your diabetes if you choose most of your foods from the “best” lists.

Diabetes and Breads, Grains, and Other Starches

Your body needs carbs. But you want to choose wisely. Use this list as a guide.

Best Choices

  • Whole-grain flours, such as whole wheat flour
  • Whole grains, such as brown rice
  • Cereals containing whole-grain ingredients and little added sugar
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Baked potato or baked steak fries
  • Whole-grain flour or corn tortillas

Worst Choices

  • White flour
  • Processed grains, such as white rice
  • Cereals with little whole grain and lots of sugar
  • White bread
  • French fries
  • Fried white-flour tortillas

Vegetables and Diabetes

Many vegetables contain fiber and are naturally low in fat and sodium (unless they are canned). Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and corn, aren't included in this category. They are considered part of the breads, grains, and other starches group.

Best Choices:

  • Fresh vegetables, eaten raw or lightly steamed, roasted, or grilled
  • Frozen vegetables, lightly steamed
  • Fresh cucumbers
  • Fresh shredded cabbage or coleslaw

Worst Choices:

  • Canned vegetables with lots of added sodium
  • Vegetables cooked with lots of added butter, cheese, or sauce
  • Pickles (if you need to limit sodium; otherwise, pickles are a good choice)
  • Sauerkraut, (same as pickles; limit only if you have high blood pressure)

Fruits and Diabetes

Fruits have carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are naturally low in fat (except for avocados) and sodium. Fruits often have more carbs than are found in vegetables.

Best Choices:

  • Frozen fruit or fruit canned in fruit juice
  • Fresh fruit
  • Sugar-free or low-sugar jam or preserves
  • No-sugar-added applesauce
  • 100% fruit juice or low-carb juices

Worst Choices:

  • Canned fruit with heavy sugar syrup
  • Chewy fruit rolls
  • Regular jam, jelly, and preserves (unless portion is kept small)
  • Sweetened applesauce
  • Fruit punch, fruit drinks, fruit juice drinks

Diabetes and Meat and Other Protein

This category includes beef, chicken, fish, pork, turkey, seafood, beans, cheese, eggs, nuts, and tofu.

Best Choices:

  • Baked, broiled, grilled, or stewed meats
  • Lower-fat cuts of meat, such as top sirloin
  • Turkey bacon
  • Low-fat cheeses
  • Skinless breast of chicken or turkey
  • Baked, broiled, steamed, or grilled fish
  • Tofu lightly sautéed, steamed, or cooked in soup
  • Baked or stewed beans

Worst Choices:

  • Fried meats
  • Higher-fat cuts of meat, such as ribs
  • Pork bacon
  • Regular cheeses
  • Poultry with skin
  • Fried fish
  • Fried tofu
  • Beans prepared with lard

WebMD Medical Reference

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
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Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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