What are the best foods a person with diabetes should have in their diet?


Briefly, having diabetes means that your body does not produce enough insulin and / or can not properly use the insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and facilitates the glucose derived from the food we eat, to enter the bloodstream into the cells and provide us with energy.

The diet for people with diabetes (diabetics) should focus on an overall healthy eating plan that has a wide variety of whole foods. Choosing a large range of fresh and low processed foods is the foundation of all diabetes treatments. The following is a brief list of some ideal foods for people with diabetes to include in their diet:

  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains: including oats, quinoa, barley, oats, brown rice
  • Legumes, dried beans, peas, lentils
  • Fruits

All of these foods are high-fiber foods and most have a low glycemic index (GI) however some fruits can be quite high GI therefore they are best eaten in moderation. Whole foods are beneficial not only to individuals who have diabetes but also to those concerned with their overall health.

High-fiber foods slow the absorption of carbohydrates as well as increase the sensitivity of insulin which in turn reduces the subsequent rise in blood glucose (sugar) levels. An additional benefit of high-fiber intake is that it helps in weight management; this is because fiber makes the body feel fuller for longer which may reduce the consumption of extra food.

Additional benefits of these food types are that many of them are also known to contribute to lower blood cholesterol levels. The slow and steady release of energy helps to provide the body with the fuel it needs.

Low fat dairy products are also an ideal food for people with diabetes as they are low GI. A consumption of around 3 serves of reduced fat dairy products each day will help to ward off osteoporosis. It has been found that the poor control of diabetes leads to greater bone density loss however calcium can help reduce the bone thinning process.

Fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines are high in the beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids. These fish contain more Omega 3’s than most other fish varieties. Omega 3’s help to increase good cholesterol (HDL) and lower the bad cholesterol (LDL). This in turn protects the arteries from hardening which lowers the risk for stroke and myocardial infarction.

It is also recommended that people with diabetes eat smaller meals more frequently so as to keep the metabolism firing and blood glucose levels (BGL’s) stable.

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