This content originally appeared on On a regular basis Health. Republished with permission.
By Sarah Hutter
Medically Reviewed By Reyna Franco, MS, RDN of American College of Lifestyle Medicine
What makes a food “super”? In terms of type 2 diabetes, it’s not nearly foods that pack a number of nutrients. For a diabetes-friendly weight-reduction plan, you furthermore may need foods that may help keep your blood sugar (glucose) levels in check. There is no such thing as a one single best food for type 2 diabetes. As a substitute, the very best weight-reduction plan for type 2 diabetes is one which relies on whole foods and is wealthy in fiber, protein, and a moderate amount of healthy carbohydrates.
It’s true that individuals with type 2 diabetes have to watch their carb intake, but they don’t should follow a fad low-carb weight-reduction plan. Quite the opposite, says Leah Kaufman, RD, CDCES, a dietitian nutritionist at NYU Langone Health in Recent York City, the best weight-reduction plan for individuals with type 2 diabetes is “a well-balanced weight-reduction plan that has a healthy amount of carbs, protein, healthy fats, and vegetables per meal.”
While changing your weight-reduction plan won’t cure diabetes, it might probably lower your risk for type 2 diabetes complications, equivalent to heart disease, kidney disease, and neuropathy (nerve damage). Keeping your blood glucose in check is amazingly essential, and food can play a giant role in that effort. The truth is, the food you eat affects type 2 diabetes in several ways, including glucose regulation, heart health, weight maintenance, and mood.
How will you tell food from a nasty one on the subject of managing diabetes? “Search for items that contain healthy fats and are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber,” says Sue McLaughlin, RD, CDCES, at Burgess Health Center in Onawa, Iowa. It’s also crucial to eat a wide selection of foods to be certain that you’re getting a healthy mixture of macronutrients, phytochemicals, and essential fatty acids.
Researchers are also continuing to search out evidence of links between weight-reduction plan and kind 2 diabetes development. One study checked out the impact of nutrition in greater than 64,000 women for 15 years. Researchers found that eating antioxidant-rich foods significantly lowered type 2 diabetes risk. Increasingly, such antioxidant-rich foods are being called superfoods.
“Superfoods is a term used to explain nutrient-packed foods that will have more health advantages than other foods,” says Kaufman, adding it’s not a medical term.
You’ll also find that, on the subject of diabetes, superfoods are all whole, unpackaged foods — meaning they aren’t processed with added sugars, fats, or preservatives.
Unsure where to begin? Take a look at these 11 suggestions for adding more superfoods to your diabetes weight-reduction plan!
1 — Swap Out Meat for Beans and Lentils for Less Fat and More Fiber
High in fiber and protein, beans are digested slowly in your body, making them great for managing blood glucose levels in a kind 2 diabetes weight-reduction plan. Just ½ cup of any sort of beans will provide as much protein as 1 ounce (oz) of a meat protein equivalent, in accordance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Irrespective of which sort of bean you select, you’ll also gain a major amount of your every day fiber needs from a 1-cup serving. For instance, in accordance with the Mayo Clinic, 1 cup of baked beans offers 10 grams (g) of fiber, while 1 cup of black beans has 15 g. Women need a median of 21 to 25 g of fiber per day, while men need between 30 and 38 g. In accordance with one article, only about 5 percent of the U.S. population meets that threshold, and yet a high-fiber weight-reduction plan is related to a reduced risk of varied diseases, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke, heart disease, and even some cancers. (Just remember to increase your intake of fiber slowly, and drink loads of water, to scale back diarrhea, per the Mayo Clinic.)
Other legumes offer similar health advantages which are key in managing diabetes. In one study, Canadian researchers found that eating beans, chickpeas, and lentils was related to improved blood glucose control, reduced blood pressure, and lower cholesterol and triglyceride (fat present in the blood) levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Those qualities are essential because individuals with diabetes are at a better risk for heart problems than the final population, in accordance with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
What’s more, beans are good sources of magnesium and potassium. Diabetes is related to magnesium deficiency, notes one article, and potassium plays a task in further boosting heart health since it helps regulate blood pressure, per the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
RELATED: 10 Foods High in Potassium
2 — Eat Salmon for Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Many varieties of seafood are good for individuals with diabetes. In accordance with the NIH, salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and herring are wealthy in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health by helping lower the blood fats called triglycerides. Just remember to avoid or limit your consumption of fish with high levels of mercury, equivalent to tilefish, swordfish, marlin, and king mackerel, as outlined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Eating fish twice per week has other far-reaching advantages: A study found that fish may protect individuals with diabetes against kidney problems. Fish is taken into account a diabetes-friendly food as a part of a healthy, well-balanced weight-reduction plan. Select blackened or grilled fish over fried preparations.
3 — Consider Tree Nuts for Other Sources of Healthy Fats
Loaded with fiber and protein, nuts are filling and contain high levels of unsaturated fats, the type that contribute to HDL, or “good” cholesterol, making them a boon to your heart health. But on the subject of stabilizing blood sugar, polyunsaturated fats in tree nuts — equivalent to almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, and pistachios — are especially helpful. (As a side note, peanuts aren’t tree nuts; they’re legumes.)
In a review and meta-analysis, Canadian researchers checked out data from 12 clinical trials and located that eating two servings of tree nuts a day lowered and stabilized blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes and unhealthy levels of cholesterol (dyslipidemia), and stabilized metabolic syndrome.
“Plant-based healthy fats can improve lipid levels,” says Kaufman. She recommends adding foods wealthy in polyunsaturated fats to assist reduce high cholesterol related to elevated blood glucose, but with a caveat. “Although healthy, these foods do have a better amount of calories, so I might limit them to at least one serving per day,” Kaufman notes. The Cleveland Clinic defines one serving as 1 oz or 35 peanuts, 24 almonds, 14 walnut halves, or 18 cashews.
4 — Grab a Handful of Fresh Blueberries for Disease-Fighting Antioxidants
While all berries contain high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber, blueberries could also be one of the vital helpful for individuals who have, or are in danger for, type 2 diabetes. “Antioxidants,” says Kaufman, “are a broad term used to explain a food that will help protect the body from damage. Antioxidants could be present in the vitamins of the particular food, and even the coloring.” On the whole, the deeper the colour, the upper the antioxidant content.
In one article, researchers on the Harvard School of Public Health found that for each three servings of blueberries (in addition to grapes and apples) eaten per week, people reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by as much as 26 percent compared with those that ate lower than one serving per thirty days.
Fiber-rich berries even have the additional advantage of satisfying your sweet tooth with none added sugars. Swapping out cookies for blueberries and other antioxidant-rich fruits will reduce blood sugar while keeping sugar cravings at bay. “Patients with diabetes should generally keep away from refined sugars and processed carbs to enhance glucose control,” Kaufman says.
5 — Have a Side of Broccoli to Increase Your Intake of Vitamins A and C
Loaded with antioxidants, broccoli is source of vitamin A and is high in vitamin C, two nutrients essential for anyone, no matter a diabetes diagnosis. In accordance with the USDA, 1 cup of cooked, previously frozen broccoli (without added fat) supplies 93.8 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A, or about 10 percent of the every day value (DV), and 73.4 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, or about 82 percent of the DV.
Plus, with 5.5 g of fiber (22 percent of the DV), broccoli is filling — which makes it selection for people who find themselves attempting to shed extra pounds and control type 2 diabetes.
6 — Indulge Your Potato Craving With Fiber-Wealthy Sweet Potatoes
In terms of foods for type 2 diabetes, not all potatoes are created equal. To maintain your blood sugar levels in check, it’s best to achieve for sweet potatoes, that are high in fiber (eat the skin for more fiber), in addition to a number of other vitamins. In accordance with the USDA, one boiled medium sweet potato (with no fat added during cooking) offers 3.8 g of fiber, or 15 percent of the DV.
“I typically recommend about one-half a plate of nonstarchy vegetables per meal and one-quarter a plate of fiber-rich starchy vegetables, equivalent to sweet potato with skin on, to extend overall fiber intake,” says Kaufman, though it’s essential to work together with your healthcare team to determine how much starchy vegetables is correct for you, she adds. Other starchy vegetables you may eat carefully include peas and corn.
One other essential consideration is the cooking process. When boiled, sweet potatoes are a low glycemic index (GI) food, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar as much as regular potatoes, in accordance with research. Baking, roasting, and frying are the worst ways to arrange sweet potatoes for individuals with type 2 diabetes, they found.
7 — Incorporate Spinach and Kale Into Pastas and Salads
In accordance with a review of research, eating about 1 cup of dark leafy greens, including spinach and kale, every day can reduce the danger of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent. Though the explanation is unclear, it might be that leafy greens have a protective effect because they contain antioxidants like vitamins A and C. A cup of fresh, cooked kale (without fat added) offers 172 mcg of vitamin A, or about 20 percent of the DV, and 21 mg of vitamin C, or about 25 percent of the DV, notes the USDA. Leafy greens are also low in calories and carbohydrates (the identical serving of kale has 52 calories and only 6.3 g of carbs), which is right for people with type 2 diabetes.
8 — Savor Your Morning Bowl of Oatmeal for Blood Sugar Control
Eating whole-grain oats may show you how to hit your goal A1C and boost heart health. One systematic review and meta-analysis found that individuals with type 2 diabetes who ate oatmeal for breakfast had higher postprandial glucose readings and lipid profiles than individuals who ate control breakfasts. Postprandial glucose readings measure glucose levels two hours after eating, and lipid profiles will help indicate heart health. It’s no mystery why oats are great in a diabetes weight-reduction plan — they’re one other good source of fiber. The USDA notes that a ½ cup of cooked oats provides 4 g, or 15 percent of the DV, of fiber.
For the healthiest options of oatmeal, select unsweetened steel-cut or old-fashioned oats with no added salt or preservatives. For a creamier texture and added protein, cook them in low-fat or nonfat milk. Add toppings like berries, seeds, cinnamon, and nuts for a flavorful, filling breakfast.
9 — Slice Open a Tomato for Heart-Healthy Lycopene
Nothing beats biting right into a ripe, juicy tomato — and fortunately, folks with diabetes don’t have to present them up. The truth is, tomatoes are perfect for a diabetes weight-reduction plan. “Foods equivalent to blueberries and tomatoes with wealthy coloring could be higher in antioxidants and ought to be consumed commonly by those with diabetes,” says Kaufman.
This superfood may help lower blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which can lessen the danger for heart disease. A report from a 10-year study suggested that lycopene, a key nutrient in tomatoes, may help reduce the danger of heart disease by 26 percent. Bear in mind that your body will have the opportunity to soak up more lycopene from cooked tomatoes than from raw ones.
10 — Go Greek With Your Yogurt for More Protein and Other Nutrients
Creamy and delicious, yogurt is a wealthy source of calcium, protein, and magnesium. It might probably also deliver beneficial probiotics, which, in accordance with a study, will help reduce the danger of weight gain and obesity, in addition to heart problems.
Go for Greek yogurt; it’s barely higher in protein than regular yogurt, which helps keep you fuller longer. In accordance with the USDA, 1 cup of nonfat plain Greek yogurt offers 23 g of protein, while the identical serving of nonfat plain yogurt comprises 14 g of protein.
Read nutrition labels rigorously, and avoid any Greek yogurt products which have added sugars. Your best bet is to pick plain, fat-free versions and so as to add some sweetness with berries.
11 — Get Your Monounsaturated Fats With Heart-Healthy Avocados
Known for his or her heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados top the charts by way of health advantages. In accordance with a review of research, avocados will help lower cholesterol, promote normal blood pressure, and reduce inflammation, due to their high fiber content, potassium, and lutein. One serving of avocado (a 3rd of a medium-sized avocado, or 50 g) has 80 calories, 6 g of healthy fats, and a wide range of vitamins and minerals, in accordance with California Avocados.
Additional reporting by Kristeen Cherney.