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Stock Your Kitchen for Diabetes Health

Have diabetes? Here are key foods to stock for healthy cooking and snacks.
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If fresh produce isn't always practical for you, stock up on canned or frozen.

Stocking a Diabetes-Friendly Freezer:

  • Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries.
  • Green Giant Select:
    • Broccoli florets
    • Broccoli, cauliflower and carrots
    • Broccoli, carrots, and water chestnuts
    • Sugar snap peas
    • Whole green peas
    • Spinach
  • Birds Eye:
    • Pepper stir fry
    • Sugar snap stir fry
    • Seven vegetable stir fry
    • Szechwan vegetables in sesame sauce
    • Winter blend vegetables and cheese sauce
  • Frozen lean protein: salmon, tuna, tilapia, orange roughy; Louis Rich, Butterball or Jenni-O turkey sausage; egg substitutes.
  • Ground flaxseed (sprinkle over fruit, breakfast cereal, yogurt, smoothies, sandwich spreads for extra omega-3 fatty acids).

Spicing Up a Diabetes-Friendly Spice Rack:

  • Spice rubs for meat and seafood.
  • Garlic and onion powders, not salts.
  • Mrs. Dash; Mr. Dash.

And when you're shopping for all these goodies, it's critical that you read food labels for carbohydrate, salt, and fat content, says Dianne Davis, RD, LDN, CDE, a dietitian with the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center in Nashville, Tenn. "There is a wide range of nutritional value in many products, and you have to choose carefully. That's why I give specific recommendations on products."

The Truth About Sugar-Free

If you're buying 'sugar-free' products, be careful, Davis tells WebMD. "Label-reading is very important. Compared to the regular version, a sugar-free product might have similar calories -- or it may have even more calories." And foods with labels like sugar-free, no sugar added, reduced sugar, still may contain carbohydrates. Read the nutritional fact label and look for total carbohydrates.

Products with low-calorie sweeteners like Splenda, Nutrasweet, and Sweet'N Low are generally good choices -- but still require label-reading, Davis tells WebMD. "Those sweeteners don't contain carbs, but the product itself may contain carbs. For example, ice cream sweetened with Splenda still has carbs from the milk." So again, the bottom line: how many carb grams does the food have?

Davis says to be wary of sorbitol (and other sugar alcohols), an artificial sweetener often used in sugar-free products and one which can cause diarrhea in some people. "It can be awful," says Davis.

Magee isn't a fan of sugar-free products either. She prefers reduced-sugar products, like jams or pancake syrups. "They contain less sugar or diluted sugar, so there are about 50% fewer calories. And they taste pretty good, so you don't feel like you're compromising."

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Reviewed on January 15, 2010
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