The recommended diet for diabetics is the same one advised by the American Heart Association. Whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats all contain essential nutrients needed to help the body perform efficiently.
While it’s important for diabetics to track their carbohydrate intake, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Processed grains—those found in commercial breads and baked goods, white rice and products containing sugar—cause a spike in blood-glucose levels. The goal of any diabetic diet is to avoid the highs and lows that accompany a diet high in processed carbs.
Whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits are all sources of carbohydrates that have a lower glycemic load and don’t cause the same dangerous spikes and drops in blood sugar.
Vegetables and Fruits
Whole vegetables and fruits contain a wide spectrum of critical nutrients. And while juices often contain those same nutrients, they lack the dietary fiber the body needs for digestion and often contain added sugars. Given a choice, pass up the juice and eat the whole fruit or vegetable.
Because diabetics can’t convert the energy from foods, excess builds up in the bloodstream in the form of cholesterol and triglycerides. A buildup of these fats in the blood can cause heart and circulatory issues, as well as kidney, liver and vision problems. To keep your cholesterol down, avoid saturated fats by choosing lean meats, fish and alternative meatless proteins such as tofu.
Cutting back on unsaturated fats is not the same as cutting fats out of your diet. “Good” fats and the resulting “good” cholesterol are essential to maintaining health. The types of fats most beneficial include those found in avocados, oily fish, nuts, and olive and flax oils.
Low-fat dairy products carry a low glycemic load, are a source of high-quality protein and should be included in your overall carbohydrate daily total. The best choices in dairy products are fat-free or 1-percent milk, non-fat light yogurt without extra sugar added, plain non-fat yogurt, unflavored soy milk, low-fat ricotta or cottage cheese.
These tips are meant as general guidelines, and shouldn’t override the advice of your doctor or dietitian. People with additional complications, such as kidney disease or celiac disease, need a more specific set of dietary guidelines developed with a health-care professional.