When it comes to diabetes, some foods are better than others. Great foods for diabetes are those with high nutrient content without being high in calories.

We help you to pick out which types of food are better for blood glucose levels and better at helping to keep you feeling full for longer.

Vegetable swaps

Vegetables should be an important part of a diabetes diet.

This can be particularly useful for people with type 2 diabetes that are struggling with higher than recommended blood glucose levels.

For example:

  • Use slices of celeriac instead of potatoes for a gratin
  • Use grated cauliflower as a substitute for rice
  • Use mashed root vegetables such as rutabaga and/or carrot instead of mashed potatoes
 

Whole grain foods

When it comes to having starchy foods like pasta, rice and bread based foods, it’s better to opt for whole grain varieties.

The benefits of using whole grain versions is that in these foods, the nutritious and fiber providing parts of the grain are not wasted. So whole grain provides more fiber and has more useful nutrients than white and non-whole grain versions.

Fiber helps to slow down the rate at which the body digests the food, meaning blood sugar levels won’t rise so quickly. Where possible, test before and 2 hours after meals with starchy foods to see how well your sugar levels deal with these foods.

As a cautionary note, breads labeled as simply brown or whole wheat are often not made with whole grains. If you’re unsure, check the fiber per 100g. The products with more fiber per 100g are likely to be the best pick.

Protein

Protein has a number of benefits, particularly for people with diabetes;

  • Provides fewer calories per gram than carbohydrate or fat
  • Requires more energy to be expended by the body to digest
  • Has a lower impact on blood glucose levels than carbohydrate

Good sources of protein include eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, beans, milk and lentils.

Note that if you have kidney disease, it’s advised that you check with your doctor what level of protein is suitable for you.

Healthy fats

Fat contains more calories than the equivalent amount of carbohydrate and protein and so it’s important to ensure you are not having an excessive amount of fat each day. Look to avoid the fats commonly found in processed foods.

There is some debate amongst nutritionists about how far we should go in limiting intake of saturated fat and some question whether the saturated fat in fresh cuts of meat should be viewed in such a negative light.

Fat certainly plays a useful role in our body, helping our body’s cells to function properly, so it is fine to have fat in moderate amounts.

Some good non-mammal sources of fat include:

  • Oily fish
  • Avocados
  • Unsalted nuts
  • Seeds

Herbs and spices

There are a number of herbs and spices that have been found in various research studies to have  anti-diabetic or ‘hypoglycemic’ properties, making them beneficial for people with or at risk of type 2 diabetes.

These include:

  • Cinnamon – linked with improved insulin sensitivity and reductions in both post meal hyperglycemia and cholesterol levels
  • Fenugreek – associated with reduced fasting blood glucose levels, improved glucose tolerance and lower cholesterol levels
  • Ginger – linked with improved  insulin secretion, better long-term blood sugar control, and lower risk of cataracts – one of the sight-related complications of long-term diabetes