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Best and Worst Foods for Diabetes

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
  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Nuts

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

Dairy and Diabetes

This group includes milk and foods made from milk, such as yogurt and sour cream. Milk has a lot of protein and minerals, including calcium.

Best Choices:

  • 1% or skim milk
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Low-fat or nonfat sour cream
  • Frozen low-fat, low-carb yogurt
  • Nonfat half-and-half

Worst Choices:

  • Whole milk
  • Regular yogurt
  • Regular cottage cheese
  • Regular sour cream
  • Regular ice cream
  • Regular half-and-half

Diabetes and Fats, Oils, and Sweets

Eating too much of these kinds of foods can lead to weight gain, making it harder to keep diabetes under control.

Best Choices:

  • Baked snacks, such as baked potato chips, baked corn chips, puffed rice, or corn snacks, in small portions
  • Vegetable oils, non-hydrogenated butter spreads, margarine
  • Reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • Light salad dressings
  • Air-popped or calorie-controlled popcorn

Worst Choices:

  • Snacks fried in fat, such as potato chips, corn chips, pork rinds
  • Lard, hydrogenated vegetable shortening, butter
  • Regular mayonnaise
  • Regular salad dressings
  • Butter-flavored stove-top popcorn

Beverages and Diabetes

Some drinks have lots of carbs but very little nutrition. Others may be a better choice most of the time.

Best Choices:

  • Water, unflavored or flavored sparkling water
  • Light beer, small amounts of wine or non-fruity mixed drinks
  • Unsweetened tea (add a slice of lemon)
  • Coffee, black or with added low-fat milk and sugar substitute
  • Plain coffee and hot chocolate
  • Sport drinks, in limited quantities

Worst Choices:

  • Regular sodas
  • Regular beer, fruity mixed drinks, dessert wines
  • Sweetened tea
  • Coffee with sugar and cream
  • Flavored coffees and chocolate drinks
  • Energy drinks

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on September 05, 2014
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