There are several food products and raw materials that have great health benefits for people with diabetes. This article deals with the most popular raw materials and food products for people with diabetes, we also go through the benefits of these foods and whether they are as extensive as people claim.
To figure out which foods are best for you with diabetes can be difficult, the main goal is to keep blood sugar levels under control. It is also important to eat foods that help prevent weight gain and complications such as cardiovascular disease.
Beans contain a lot of protein and usually, a lot of vitamin A. Beans also contain a lot of fiber that leads to earlier satiety and less carbohydrate intake, resulting in lower levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and blood sugar. Some kinds of beans contain a lot of high levels of carbohydrates, but these are considered to contain slow carbohydrates (low glycemic index), compared to other carbohydrates from bread or pasta. Food with a low glycemic index means that blood sugar levels rise more slowly immediately after food intake.
Rising blood sugar levels after meals is a common phenomenon in diabetes, especially in type 1 diabetes, this is called post-prandial glucose rise in medical language. When blood sugar levels rise rapidly during food intake, the pancreas needs to respond with increased release of the hormone insulin to counteract the increase in sugar.
Beans with a low glycemic index can improve both blood sugar levels and the risk of cardiovascular diseases, especially in people with type 2 diabetes. Beans are also a useful option for individuals with type 1 diabetes, but since the majority of individuals with type 1 diabetes are normal weight, the bean diet has a stronger effect on individuals with type 2 diabetes who are usually overweight.
Examples of good beans include
- Black beans
- White beans
- Pinto bean Garbanzo beans
- Kidney beans
Vegetables with low levels of starch are incredibly good for people with type 2 diabetes. They contain little carbohydrates and lots of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. Remember that starch is a kind of carbohydrate that is present in several food products.
Vegetables also contain a lot of antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin which is good for the body. These antioxidants are believed to protect your eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts, which are common diabetic complications.
Studies have consistently linked non-starchy vegetables to lower risk of hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Unlike starchy vegetables, non-starchy vegetables contain very little carbohydrates.
Examples of non-starchy vegetables
Several studies show that berries bring a number of health benefits to people with diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. A study published in the scientific journal Journal of Nutrition indicated that the benefits of berries depend on a group of biochemical compounds called anthocyanins. The study showed that individuals who consume 160 mg of anthocyanins twice a day experienced the following improvements.
Results from the study on anthocyanins
- A 7.9% decrease in low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol): LDL is also known as “bad cholesterol“. In general, when people talk about “high cholesterol levels”, they refer to low-density lipoprotein
- Study participants experienced a 19.4 percent increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL is known as “good cholesterol” because it cleans LDL cholesterol from the blood vessels.
- Fasting blood sugar decreased by 8.5% Sensitivity to insulin increased by 13 percent.
- Adiponectin increased by 23.4 percent, a hormone that increases insulin sensitivity
Berries are a good source of vitamin C and fiber, they do not contain many carbohydrates. Although research is promising, there are currently too few clinical randomized trials showing positive effects of anthocyanins, research is ongoing.
Berries are best included in breakfast or dessert. They are a great way to make often unhealthy or carbohydrate-rich meals somewhat more nutritious.
Examples of healthy berries
Citrus fruits are usually full of vitamin C. A large orange contains the recommended daily intake (DRI) of vitamin C. In addition, citrus fruits are favorable for blood pressure.
However, there are some citrus fruits that contain a lot of carbohydrates. An example is a grapefruit that has 18.5 g of carbohydrates, try to avoid high consumption of citrus fruits with a lot of carbohydrates.
People who follow a low-carbohydrate diet or LCHF should eat right with citrus fruits. In addition, the acid from the citrus fruits can disturb your stomach and possibly damage your teeth. Some people worry that citrus fruits damage the teeth and erode the enamel, but this is not quite true. Citrus fruits cause the enamel to become soft and weakened, which makes it more susceptible to damage from other sources, but the acid contained in the citrus fruit does not cause any direct harm. After about an hour, the enamel will become hard again.
Citrus fruits offer a lot of benefits, but the carbohydrate content allows people with diabetes to consume citrus fruits with moderation. That said, a lot of carbohydrates in citrus fruits are fiber (about 4g of 21g carbohydrate in one orange), which is good because it lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It is wise not to cut citrus fruits out of your diet altogether.
Examples of good citrus fruits
Fatty fish is one of the healthiest sources of protein on the planet. Several health authorities suggest that everyone eat at least two 140g servings of fish per week, regardless of whether they have diabetes or not. Fish is recommended primarily for its protein and overabundance of monounsaturated fat (“good” fat), which improves the work of the heart and reduces the level of “bad” cholesterol.
Salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies and mackerel contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, all these substances have great benefits for heart health. DHA and EPA are two substances that protect your cells in your blood vessels (endothelial cells), the biochemical compounds lead to lower inflammation and improve the functioning of your blood vessels.
Fish also contains a lot of vitamin D and vitamin B2. Vitamin B2 strengthens bones and prevents bone breakdown, which is good for people with diabetes, whose bones can be damaged as a result of high blood sugar levels. Vitamin D is good for the skin, eyes, red blood cells and the nervous system, all of which can be damaged by diabetes. Studies have shown that people who consume very fatty fish have lower blood lipids (triglycerides) and inflammatory markers in the blood.
However, fish contains quite a lot of mercury. Studies have linked high levels of mercury consumption to the development of brain diseases. Avoid getting the recommended daily amount of fish if you are concerned about its mercury content.
Several studies suggest that cinnamon is an excellent choice for people with diabetes. It lowers blood sugar (HbA1c), reduces blood lipids (LDL cholesterol and triglycerides) and increases sensitivity to insulin (reduces insulin resistance). It is also cheap. However, the research is incomplete, some research suggests that cinnamon does not lower blood sugar levels at all.
Excessive amounts of cinnamon can cause liver damage. If you purchase cinnamon from grocery stores for you limit your intake of cinnamon to less than 1 teaspoon per day. It contains an organic compound called coumarin, which is connected with health problems at higher doses. There are real cinnamon called ceylon cinnamon and it contains much less coumarin.
Oatmeal has a low glycemic index and reduces the level of LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol. Unfortunately, most oatmeal contains quite high levels of carbohydrates, but it’s not so bad compared to other breakfast options. Starchy breakfast options such as toast or croissants will contain more carbohydrates and they do not offer as much nutrition.
There are different types of oatmeal, and they vary in their effect on blood sugar levels (HbA1c). Avoid processed oatmeal because they usually have a high glycemic index. Natural oatmeal contains more fiber, which lowers blood sugar levels.
Greek yogurt has several advantages, partly it contains very little carbohydrates and sugar, but quite a lot of protein. Greek yogurt with high-fat content is better for people with diabetes, which may sound strange but the bad reputation gained by fat is not justified. Greek yogurt has been shown to improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of heart disease, perhaps partly due to the beneficial effects, it means for intestinal flora (probiotic). Scientists also believe that dairy’s high content of calcium and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) can play a role in the positive effects.
Fat is a complex topic. There is a long debate on whether saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease. This is due to the fact that there are different types of saturated fat. Some saturated fat particles increase the risk of heart disease while some do not.
Greek yogurt is great for people with diabetes, especially the fatty version. Greek yogurt is a great alternative to breakfast. Like oatmeal, yogurt can be a healthy alternative to a frequent carbohydrate meal.
Keep in mind that the nutritional values of Greek yogurt vary significantly depending on the brand. Read the label to find out the specific nutritional value of a particular brand of Greek yogurt (nutrient content).
Greek yogurt differs from ordinary yogurt in that it contains only 6-8 grams of carbohydrates per serving, which is lower than conventional yogurt.
Turmeric is a spice with several claimed health benefits. The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin, this substance is able to reduce inflammation and blood sugar levels while reducing the risk of heart disease.
Curcumin also appears to help the kidneys in individuals with diabetes. This is important because diabetes is one of the main causes of kidney disease.
Unfortunately, curcumin is not so well absorbed on its own. Be sure to consume turmeric with piperine (found in black pepper) to increase absorption by as much as 2000%.
Nuts are a good option for people with diabetes. But different nuts have significantly different effects:
- Almonds contain lots of nutrients, especially vitamin E
- Walnuts contain good omega-3 fatty acids
- Cashew nuts offer a lot of magnesium
- Almonds, peanuts and pistachios reduce the “bad” cholesterol
- A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that nut consumption was associated with a lower risk of risk factors contributing to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
However, nuts contain quite a lot of calories, so they should be consumed in moderation by people with type 2 diabetes. Avoid salted varieties. Salt consumption has been consistently linked to elevated blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease.
It’s a good idea to include nuts in your diet if you have diabetes, and try to get a variety of nuts to get all the nutrients. Most likely, the main nuts are those that improve cardiovascular health such as almonds, walnuts and pistachios.
Other healthy foods
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Apple cider vinegar
- Extra virgin olive oil