Diabetic Diet: 6 Foods That May Help Control Blood Sugar
While there's no substitute for a balanced diabetic diet, adding certain foods may help those with diabetes keep sugar levels in check.
Broccoli, Spinach, and Green Beans
Add plenty of nonstarchy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, and green beans, to your diabetic diet, diabetes experts say. These foods are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates, which make them ideal for people with diabetes.
In contrast, starchy vegetables include peas, potatoes, corn, winter squash, and lima beans. There's no need to cut them from the diet, Moore says. "They do give us additional nutrients. We want to maintain balance." But because starchy vegetables have more carbohydrates and raise blood sugar more, it's important to stick to proper portion sizes, she says.
There's new evidence, too, that vegetables are healthy for people with diabetes.
Researchers have found that a low-fat vegan diet may help type 2 diabetes patients to better manage their disease. In a study published in DiabetesCare, 43% of people with type 2 diabetes who followed a low-fat vegan diet for 22 weeks reduced the need to take diabetes medications. That's compared to only 26% who adhered to the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association.
On average, the vegan group also lost more weight and lowered levels of bad cholesterol. Because people with diabetes are more prone to heart disease, eating with heart health in mind matters as much as blood sugar control, Moore says.
Some diabetes patients shy away from strawberries because of their sweetness, says Moore. But a cup of strawberries makes for a healthy snack that won't raise blood sugar too much. They're a much better option than a cookie or candy bar.
"They're pretty low in calories and carbohydrates," she says. What's more, strawberries are high in fiber and water, so people will feel fuller longer. The longer that people with diabetes can stay full, the fewer carbohydrates they'll consume overall, she says.