Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

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 continued...

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.

Salmon and Lean Meats

Meats, which are high in protein, don't affect blood sugar as much as carbohydrates, Nonas says. When eaten in proper portions, fish, skinless chicken breast, and lean cuts of meat are good choices for diabetic diets.

Moore says salmon is an especially smart option because it also contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. And 65% of people with diabetes die from either heart attack or stroke," she says.

Meat is also a source of chromium, a mineral that enables insulin to function properly and helps the body to metabolize carbohydrates.

Some people with type 2 diabetes take chromium picolinate supplements to try to keep blood sugar under control. But according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, there's not enough evidence to show that the supplements actually help.

Sparkling Water

Trying to break a sugary soda habit? Or just tired of guzzling diet sodas day after day?

Go for sugar-free sparkling waters, Moore says. The carbonated beverages come in various flavors, including tangerine, grapefruit, and apple-pear. "They take away the desire for something bubbly," she says.

Many sparkling waters have no carbohydrates or calories -- a boon not just for blood sugar levels, but weight control, too.


Cinnamon has been in the news lately as a spice that may have insulin-like effects and help reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. 

In a recent German study, researchers randomly assigned 79 patients who had type 2 diabetes into two groups. For four months, the test group took a cinnamon extract three times a day, while the control group took a placebo. At the end, those on the cinnamon extract had lowered their fasting blood sugar levels by 10.3%, compared to 3.4% for the control group. The scientists concluded that the cinnamon extract seemed to have a moderate effect in reducing blood sugar levels in diabetes patients, especially among those who had more trouble controlling blood sugar.

Before doctors can start recommending cinnamon for diabetes, more studies need to be done. But Moore says it certainly can't hurt to sprinkle the aromatic spice regularly onto your morning oatmeal.

Reviewed on January 01, 2007

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


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.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
Woman serving fast food from window
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
are battery operated toothbrushes really better

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture