The Top-10 Foods for a Healthy Diabetes Diet - Virtua Article

The Top 10 Foods for a Healthy Diabetes Diet

By Gale Cohen, RD, CDE, Certified Diabetes Educator—Virtua Nutrition and Diabetes Care

Each one of us holds the tools to make healthier food choices. For adults with type 2 diabetes, choosing nutritious foods and monitoring portion sizes helps keep blood sugar levels stable. 

The keys to a healthy eating plan include:

  • Eating meals and snacks regularly (at planned times).
  • Eating about the same amount of food at each meal or snack.
  • Choosing healthful foods to support a healthy weight and heart.

What are the healthiest foods for a person with type 2 diabetes?

If you have diabetes, the best foods for your diet should include plenty of fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and calcium. These nutrients are beneficial for regulating blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Here are some ideas.

Beans are a “superfood” made up of high-quality carbohydrates, low-fat protein, and soluble fiber, and also are a good source of magnesium and potassium. Beans help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep hunger in check.

Dark green leafy vegetables
Leafy vegetables like leaf lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and arugula are loaded with vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins C and K, calcium, iron, and potassium. They provide fiber and antioxidants as well.

Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. Anthocyanin and other color-related pigments are valuable for their anti-inflammatory health benefits. For a lower-glycemic alternative, substitute sweet potatoes in place of white potatoes in your favorite recipes .

Berries are loaded with phytochemicals, which are naturally occurring nutrients that help protect cells from damage. Low in calories, high in fiber and water content, berries give us a sense of fullness. They’re a smart choice for helping you manage weight.

Salmon is rich in omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA). This and other fishes like tuna, sardines, and mackerel, also can help reduce inflammation and have the potential to lower heart disease risks. Eat these fishes at least two times weekly to improve triglyceride levels.

Oats are an incredibly nutritious food packed with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Benefits of eating oats include lower “bad” (LDL) and total cholesterol levels as well as a feeling of fullness and and an increase in healthy gut bacteria. The soluble fiber in oats slows the absorption of glucose from food in the stomach, which may help with blood sugar control.

Nuts provide healthy unsaturated fats, fiber, and magnesium, which is thought to help carbohydrate metabolism. Be mindful of your servings—one ounce contains about 170 calories.

Yogurt has many benefits. It’s rich in a number of nutrients including calcium, protein, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin D. Protein and magnesium are two key nutrients for diabetes management. Protein provides a feeling of fullness and magnesium helps improve insulin sensitivity, which may help regulate blood sugar levels. Skip the flavored or fruited yogurt, and buy plain or vanilla and add your own fresh fruit.

The fats in avocados are mostly monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which have been shown to raise "good" (HDL) cholesterol. MUFAs can also lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and fats called triglycerides and reduce blood pressure. Avocados may help people feel full longer, which can control overall calorie intake.

Quinoa is a nutrient-rich seed that is often referred to as an ancient grain. It’s quick to cook and is commonly used as a side dish, similar to rice. Quinoa contains all of the essential amino acids, which makes it a complete protein. It’s gluten free and provides magnesium, iron, fiber, and B-vitamins. If you haven’t tried quinoa, you can eat it hot or cold mixed with your favorite veggies or even for breakfast as an alternative to your healthy oats.

Call 888-847-8823 to schedule an appointment with a Virtua certified diabetes educator, who can help you plan a healthy, delicious meal plan.  

Updated November 3, 2020


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