Most patients with diabetes tend to focus on blood glucose control and hence avoid certain healthy foods. The following is a list of foods groups diabetic patients should not be afraid to include in their daily diet as they offer many health benefits.
- Fruits: Yes fruits are a source of sugar, however, fruits are loaded with heart healthy nutrients, antioxidant and fiber; all of which play an important role in maintaining a healthy body. In general, diabetes management involves the quality and the quantity of food sources of glucose (sugar). Adding a portion of fruit after eating a balanced meal or during snack time will not increase blood sugar levels beyond target value. Eating five fruits at once might however. It’s really all about the total amount of sugar per meal. So moderation and balance are essential in diabetes management.
- Legumes like dried beans, peas, and lentils: They are predominantly carbohydrate rich food BUT they are also rich in dietary fibers which help in regulating and stabilizing your blood sugar levels as well as blood cholesterol levels. Moreover, legumes are absorbed slowly over a long period of time which aid in the regulation of blood sugar level. Lastly, legumes are alternative ways of increasing protein intake without increasing saturated fat found in animal protein sources. They are nutritious, inexpensive and very versatile. Add them to salad or soups or in even in stews.
- Whole grains: A lot of diabetic patients stop eating grain products in the fear of having a high blood sugar level. Having diabetes does not entail avoiding grain products and in particular whole grains (the entire grain—which includes the bran, germ and endosperm). They are sources of magnesium, iron, selenium, B vitamins, and dietary fiber. Adding the equivalent of two portion per meal in the diet is part of a balanced and a healthy plate.
- Nuts: Nuts shouldn’t be avoided because they are heart healthy foods. Researchers from several studies have found that including nuts in the diet decreases both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Other research found that consuming tree nuts, along with other dietary changes, can improve blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Careful consideration should be given to salted nuts and sweetened nuts that could impact blood pressure and blood glucose control respectively.