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Diabetes Health Center

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Whole Grains and Type 2 Diabetes

Having diabetes doesn't mean you need to give up every piece of bread or dish of pasta. You can still enjoy foods made with grains, as long as you make them whole grains.

Whole grains are packed with fiber, which can help lower your cholesterol and reduce your heart disease risk. Fiber slows digestion and the absorption of carbohydrates and may not raise your blood sugar as quickly as refined grains. And because whole grains help you feel fuller for longer, they can help you manage your weight.

4 Ways to Eat More Whole Grains

The easiest way to eat more whole grains is to make a few switches in your diet, such as swapping out white bread and rice for whole wheat bread and brown rice. Also, try these tips:

  1. Add grains like barley and bulgur wheat to soups, stews, salads, and casseroles to add texture.
  2. When you bake breads or muffins, instead of white flour use half whole wheat flour and half oat, amaranth, or buckwheat flour. You can also use these whole-grain flours in pancakes and waffles.
  3. Instead of having crackers for a snack, eat popcorn, which is a whole grain. Just skip the butter and salt. Unsweetened whole-grain cereal makes another good snack option.
  4. Make quinoa your side dish instead of rice. You can also use quinoa as a coating for shrimp and chicken instead of flour or breadcrumbs.

Read Labels Carefully

Finding whole-grain foods in your supermarket can be tricky. Some foods that appear to contain whole grains really don’t. You need to look carefully at food labels. Don't be fooled by:

  • Terms like "enriched." Enriched wheat contains only part of the grain.
  • Foods labeled "containing whole grain," "made from whole grain," or "multigrain." They're not 100% whole grains. Look for "whole grain" as the first ingredient listed.
  • The food's color. For example, bread may be brown only because it contains added ingredients, like molasses.

How Much Is Too Much?

Even though whole grains are healthy, you don’t want to eat unlimited amounts. How much of these grains you can eat depends on how well you're managing your blood sugar.

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