What Are The Best And Worst Foods For Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic, long-lasting condition that occurs due to high sugar levels in the blood. It can happen at any age. Moreover, if you have a family history of diabetes, there are chances you may likely be hit by this condition sooner. Perhaps it can be controlled if taken care of properly.

There are commonly four types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes A condition in which the pancreas releases little to no insulin.
Type 2 Diabetes The body processes higher blood sugar levels.
Prediabetes Blood sugar is high, but not as compared to type 2 diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes A condition in which there are high blood sugar levels. It mostly hits expectant mothers. 

This blog enlists the best and worst foods for diabetic people along with foods to balance your diet.

What Foods Can Diabetics Eat Freely?

A normal person’s diet must include intake of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, less sugary foods, and completely avoid trans fats. The same diet goes for a person with diabetes or any other health condition with some minor changes based on the individual’s activity levels.

Diabetes is an ongoing condition that lasts over a lifetime. However, that does not mean one has to feel deprived. There are plenty of options available to make choices for healthy food.

Although sugary and processed foods can trigger glucose levels, people can consume these foods in lesser quantities and include them in their balanced diet plan.

For diabetic patients, monitoring carbohydrate intake is strictly important as they are the main culprits in raising blood sugar levels.

Therefore, a diabetic person should consult a dietitian to plan their diet course based on various factors including the type of diabetes, medications, and amount of physical activity required.

Following is a list of foods that diabetic people must include in their diet.

Green leafy vegetables: Leafy greens such as kale or spinach are a good source of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They are a plant-based source of calcium, potassium, and vitamin A along with protein and fiber. Additionally, they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels.

In addition to spinach and kale, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, bok choy, collard greens are good sources of green leafy vegetables which are good for diabetics. The best way is to include in your diet in the form of salads, soups, or dinners. You can also team it up with a source of lean protein like tofu, or chicken.

Whole grains: Whole grains are far better than refined white grains as it contains dietary fiber that may help reduce the risk of diabetes. Also, it is good for diabetics as fiber slows down the digestion process keeping blood sugar levels stable.

Brown rice, rye, whole-grain bread, bulgur, whole-grain pasta, millet, buckwheat, quinoa are rich sources of fiber and can be a replacement for white bread or white pasta.

Beans: Beans are super beneficial foods for diabetics that have numerous health and nutritional benefits in addition to managing blood sugar levels. Beans are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Although beans are a complex carbohydrate, they should be taken in moderation.

Eating beans in salads helps in weight loss, regulates blood pressure, and cholesterol. Kidney beans, adzuki beans, pinto beans, navy beans, and black beans are the type of beans that contain essential nutrients such as iron, magnesium, and potassium.

There are different options to include beans in your diet such as in tortilla wraps, in a stew, or chili. Also if you are using canned beans, make sure to buy with no added salt else rinse with water to remove any added salt.

Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C, folate, and potassium that have proven to be beneficial with antidiabetic effects. Including oranges, lemons, and grapefruits in your diet is a good way to consume vitamins and minerals without gulping carbohydrates.

Sweet Potatoes: Sweet Potatoes are a high-fiber food. They have carbohydrates as well and hence, should be taken in moderation. Also, they release sugar slowly and are not responsible for raising blood sugar levels higher.

Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, C, fiber, and potassium. For a balanced meal, intake sweet potatoes in different ways such as baked, mashed, boiled along with lean protein or green leafy vegetables.

Berries: Berries are a bunch full of antioxidants that help prevent the production of oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress causes an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species and antioxidant defenses that leads to various health conditions including heart disorders or diabetes.

Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are rich sources of antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C & K, potassium, and magnesium.

You can intake berries in your morning meal, as a snack, or grind frozen berries in your smoothie.

Probiotic Yogurt: Probiotics are live microorganisms with many health benefits when consumed, hence, improves the gut flora. Probiotic yogurt contains active cultures, Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium.

Studies show that consuming probiotic yogurt could improve your cholesterol levels if you have type 2 diabetes and thus, lowering the risk of heart disease. You can make it tastier by adding berries or nuts transforming it into a healthy snack or dessert.

Fatty Fish: Fatty fish is a healthy addition of fats to your diet that helps in the proper functioning of the body and promoting heart and brain health. It is full of omega-3 fatty acids – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, albacore tuna, and sardines are different species of fatty fish rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that can help controlling blood sugar levels and blood lipids in diabetics.

Walnuts: Like fish, walnuts are an excellent source of healthy fatty acids to include in your diet for the healthy functioning of your heart.

Diabetics are at higher risk of stroke or heart disease, therefore, consumption of fatty acids is important which can be consumed through walnuts and fatty fish.

Walnuts are rich in various nutrients such as vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, and protein. A handful of nuts is enough to keep your heart healthy.

Chia Seeds: Chia seeds can be another healthy addition to your diet as they are rich in antioxidants and omega 3 content.

Also if you include chia seeds in your diet, it will help you lose weight and manage type 2 diabetes within six months.

You can add chia seeds to your diet as a healthy breakfast.

What Are The 6 Worst Foods And Drinks For Diabetics?

It is important to maintain the balance between high and low-GI foods. Eating high glycemic index foods increases your blood sugar levels as compared to low-GI foods.

However, if you crave high-GI foods, then either consume them in moderation or team up them with foods rich in protein or antioxidants.

White bread, puffed/white rice, white potatoes, white pasta, popcorn, melons, pineapple, and pumpkin are some high-GI foods.

As a diabetic patient, you need to stick to a diabetic diet plan recommended by your dietitian and avoid the following foods:

Card-rich Foods: Although carbohydrates are an important part of meals, diabetic patients should limit their consumption else it could raise their blood sugar levels. Diabetics can benefit from carbohydrates by pairing them with a healthy source of foods.

Saturated & Trans Fats: Foods rich in saturated and trans fats aren’t healthy even for a normal person and can highly disturb your blood sugar levels. Foods rich in trans fats are fried & processed foods, fries, baked goods, and chips should be completely avoided.

Sugary Drinks: Energy drinks, sweetened beverages, sweetened drinks, sports drinks, soda are some sugary drinks that can imbalance an individual’s insulin levels.

Alcohol: Consuming alcohol-related drinks in moderate quantities may not harm diabetics.

However, if a diabetic patient is using insulin or insulin secretagogue therapies, they are at risk of developing hypoglycemia related to alcohol consumption.

Doctors recommend one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

Refined Sugar: Diabetics should completely avoid refined sugar products in the form of sweets, cakes, or biscuits. These foods do not include natural sugars obtained from fruits or plain milk.

Doctors recommend that women should not consume more than 24 grams or six teaspoons of artificial sweeteners, while for men it is 36 grams or nine teaspoons.

Salty Foods: Foods high in salt can highly imbalance blood pressure levels. Also, when buying food products from the market, look at ingredients where salt is sometimes labeled as sodium.\


Diabetics must consult with their dietitian for a healthy, nutritious diet plan. Eating a healthy diet full of foods enlisted above can help manage their physical, mental condition and:

  • Control their blood sugar levels
  • Lower the risk of kidney disease, heart disease, or failure
  • Lower inflammation

Also, expectant mothers who are on the verge of gestational diabetes must discuss their diet plan with their dietitian to keep themselves and their baby safe and healthy.

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