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    Best and Worst Foods for Diabetes

    Protein

    You have lots of choices, including beef, chicken, fish, pork, turkey, seafood, beans, cheese, eggs, nuts, and tofu.

    Best Choices

    The American Diabetes Association lists these as the top options:

    • Plant-based proteins, such as beans, nuts, seeds, or tofu
    • Fish and seafood
    • Chicken and other poultry (Choose the breast meat if possible.)
    • Eggs and low-fat dairy

    If you eat meat, keep it low in fat. Trim the skin off poultry.

    Try to include some plant-based protein from beans, nuts, or tofu, even if you're not a vegetarian or vegan. You’ll get nutrients and fiber that aren’t in animal products.

    Worst Choices

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

    Dairy

    Keep it low in fat. If you want to splurge, keep your portion small.

    Best Choices

    • 1% or skim milk
    • Low-fat yogurt
    • Low-fat cottage cheese
    • Low-fat or nonfat sour cream

    Worst Choices

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

    Fats, Oils, and Sweets

    They’re tough to resist. But it’s easy to get too much and gain weight, which makes it harder to manage your diabetes.

    Best Choices

    • Natural sources of vegetable fats, such as nuts, seeds, or avocados (high in calories, so keep portions small)
    • Foods that give you omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel
    • Plant-based oils, such as canola, grapeseed, or olive oils

    Worst Choices

    • Anything with artificial trans fat in it. It's bad for your heart. Check the ingredient list for anything that’s “partially hydrogenated,” even if the label says it has 0 grams of trans fat.
    • Big portions of saturated fats, which mainly come from animal products but also are in coconut oil and palm oil. Ask your doctor what your limit should be, especially if you have heart disease as well as diabetes.

    Drinks

    When you down a favorite drink, you may get more calories, sugar, salt, or fat than you bargained for. Read the labels so you know what’s in a serving.

    Best Choices

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

    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 Michael Dansinger, MD on January 28, 2016
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