Superfoods For Diabetes
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, particularly with type 2 diabetes, then you understand how important your diet is. In fact, doctors often mention that changing what you do or don’t eat on a daily basis is one of the crucial ways to help manage your type 2 diabetes. This is where superfoods come in.
Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of diabetes, which is where you have a lot of the same effects of diabetes, but you are not dependent on insulin. This occurs more often when you are an adult, but some children and teens may also be diagnosed with it.
When you have type 2 diabetes, you can still produce some of your own insulin naturally, but it isn’t enough to sustain proper health. This is where your diet comes in. You need to be able to balance out the glucose levels in your body, which requires a specific level of nutrition.
With the right superfoods, they contain all the nutrients you need to keep your blood sugar levels low, and help to maintain your weight, which often leads to type 2 diabetes in the first place. Here are the top 10 superfoods that you should be eating if you have diabetes.
Surprise! You still get to eat chocolate if you have diabetes, but you need to be careful about what type you choose. You should not be loading up on sugar and sweets, so avoid milk chocolate, white chocolate, and similar variations. Instead, go for the dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate has a lot of the crucial nutrients you should be having when you struggle with insulin resistance or insulin sensitivity, starting with flavonoids. These can actually help to lower your blood sugar levels and level out the insulin levels in your body. People who have diabetes often think they can’t have any more sugar, but that’s not true. You just need to be smart about it.
Go for dark chocolate that has a higher level of pure cacao in it. Try to avoid dark chocolate that contains a lot of preservatives and ingredients you don’t need. Buying your dark chocolate from a small chocolatier business or health food store is usually the way to go. These businesses typically avoid chocolate that has been highly processed.
Here are some yummy ways to enjoy your dark chocolate:
Use dark chocolate shavings to top your coffee or dessert
Have a handful of dark chocolate nibs with a piece of fruit for a healthy snack
Make some dark chocolate fudge, having one piece each night for an extra special treat
Reduced Fat Diary Products
You can also still have dairy when you have type 2 diabetes, but look for the low-fat or fat-free versions, avoiding the full fat type of dairy. This includes both milk and yogurt, which can be good for your overall health and actually help if you have diabetes.
Dairy products contain calcium and vitamin D, which are important for keeping your bones healthy, particularly when you struggle with all the side effects from your diabetes. Even when you choose any of the fat-free or reduced fat forms of milk or yogurt, it still contains fortified vitamin D, which is the most important nutrient from the dairy products. Plus, if you are on a diet, the fat-free versions like fat-free yogurt or skim milk won’t add too much to your total amount of fat or calories for the day.
Try to add more servings of reduced fat dairy to your daily diet. This is easy to do by having a yogurt for your early morning snack, enjoying a smoothie with fruits, veggies, milk, and yogurt, or having a glass of skim milk with dinner instead of a soft drink or other beverages that aren’t as good for you.
In terms of fruits and vegetables that are good for you, tomatoes are at the top of the list. Tomatoes contain a nutrient called lycopene, which can help reduce your risk for macular degeneration, which as you might know, is a risk for people with diabetes. This same nutrient also helps to protect you from heart disease and some forms of cancer, like prostate cancer.
There is a low GI ranking in tomatoes, which is the Glycemic Index. You should try to find foods that have a low GI number, as these won’t cause a rise in your blood sugar levels. Most fruits that don’t have a lot of starch, including tomatoes, will be low on the GI ranking. Watch out for your portions, trying to keep the amount to 1-2 tomatoes a day.
The good thing is that the ways to add more tomatoes to your diet are practically endless. Here are just a few simple ideas:
- Have salsa with homemade baked tortilla chips
- Add tomato to your favorite sandwich for lunch
- Enjoy a side salad with tomato and cucumber
- Make scrambled eggs with tomatoes and bell peppers
- Eat a bowl of tomato soup for a light dinner
If you are looking for a healthy breakfast when you have diabetes, it doesn’t get much better than having a bowl of oatmeal. Oats can provide you with a lot of nutrients and are a popular superfood. Not only is it okay to eat oats when you have diabetes already as they have a low GI index, but eating them can actually prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.
What you want to look for are steel-cut oats. You should avoid the packets of oatmeal that you just mix with water and in 3 minutes have a bowl of oatmeal. They are heavily processed and don’t contain as many nutrients. Look for steel-cut oats that you soak overnight, then enjoy your oatmeal the following morning.
Steel cut oats have a lot of important nutrients for people with diabetes, starting with a high level of magnesium. Magnesium is essential for keeping your glucose levels low, while helping with insulin resistance. There is also protein, fiber, and antioxidants to provide better overall health with steel cut oats.
As far as healthy fats go, olive oil is one of the best ones when you have diabetes. What you might not know is that when people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, they are often told to go on a diet called the Mediterranean Diet. This includes a lot of healthy foods and healthy fats, with olive oil high up on the list. Doctors actually recommend adding olive oil to your diet.
Olive oil is of course a superfood, thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients it contains. All superfoods have that label because they have a higher-than-normal amount of vitamins and minerals per serving, and olive oil is no exception. It contains a lot of antioxidants that help to protect you from illness and disease, including heart disease and cell damage in your body.
You can easily replace other fats like butter or vegetable oil with olive oil and be eating a healthier diet. Try making fried eggs with olive oil and serving them with some fruits and veggies for breakfast, or using olive oil to make a healthy stir-fry for dinner. The options truly are endless.
You can still enjoy your citrus fruits, but you want to be careful about the GI score and track it throughout the day. This doesn’t mean you should drink a glass of orange juice with every meal, but instead keep close track of how much you are eating or drinking in terms of citrus fruits and their GI scores.
However, citrus can be a really good source of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C, making them a powerful superfood for you if you have diabetes. Make sure you are eating the entire fruit and not just the juice. If you juice citrus fruits, you will get the most from them. You can also get a lot of nutrients from zest, so add that to meals as much as you can.
The lowest citrus fruit is grapefruit at just 25 for one serving. This is also one of the lowest GI scores for all fruits, not just citrus fruit. Unsweetened orange juice is around 50, while an orange itself is lower and closer to 40. It is better to just grab an orange than have a full glass of OJ, but tracking your food in a food journal will be very helpful for you.
There are certain types of fish that are not only good for you because they are low in fat and excellent sources of protein, but because of the omega-3 fatty acids. These fish options are frequently referred to as fatty fish, which are types of fish with the omega-3 nutrients, and are typically your cold water fish. These fish also have a lot of other nutrients, like selenium and vitamin D, both of which are equally important.
The vitamin D and selenium are good for improving the health of your bones, and provide excellent nutrients for your hair and skin. The omega-3 fatty acids are going to reduce your risk of heart disease and help keep your blood sugar levels on the lower side.
Some good fatty fish to enjoy is wild salmon, sardines, tuna, herring, and mackerel. You can have these fish in fillet form with veggies and other healthy sides, or slice up the grilled fish and place it on your salad. There are a lot of ways to enjoy fish, depending on what your taste preferences are.
There are also some whole grains that are considered superfoods and can also help if you have diabetes, including quinoa. Quinoa has a nutty flavor that is a bit earthy, but it is also very versatile. It isn’t heavily processed like white rice and other rice that comes in a box. Quinoa tastes more similarly like a grain, and goes great with just about any vegetable or protein source.
Quinoa is considered a complete protein with about 14 grams of protein for just ½ cup of it. It also contains all 9 amino acids in the same serving size, which is going to be wonderful for getting more nutrition each day. Quinoa is known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, help burn more fat and calories, and help convert fatty acids into energy. There is also a good amount of fiber with about 2.6 grams of fiber per serving.
It is easy to cook and prepare meals with quinoa. Many people even enjoy it at breakfast time. You can prepare a power bowl that includes quinoa, some veggies like tomatoes, onions, and peppers, with a fried egg on top. This is healthy, low in carbohydrates, and contains only healthy fats and protein that you need.
Believe it or not, some herbs and spices are also considered superfoods, like turmeric and chia seeds. One of the spices that is a superfood and also ideal if you have diabetes is cinnamon. Cinnamon is commonly recommended for people with type 2 diabetes because it can help reduce your blood sugar and blood glucose levels. You can reduce your blood sugar efficiently with just a gram or more cinnamon each day.
Cinnamon has also been known to have other positive health benefits for people with and without diabetes. It can help manage your cholesterol, balance your insulin levels, and reduce the triglycerides in your body. It also provides good antioxidants for protecting you against serious illnesses and diseases.
Try adding cinnamon to your meals with other superfoods if you can. This combination helps to get the most from what you are eating. For example, you can add some cinnamon to your fat-free yogurt to get both, or you can enjoy sweet potatoes, other superfood veggies, and some cinnamon on top for a fall harvest side dish. There are many ways to use cinnamon in your food and drinks.
Last up on the list is a leafy green. Most leafy green veggies are good for you and in the superfoods category, like collard greens and spinach, but kale is best when you have diabetes. Kale contains over 200% of your daily requirement for just vitamin A, and over 100% of your requirement for vitamin C. It has even more vitamin K, which is essential for preventing blood clots. This is all in just one cup of kale per day.
In addition to these important nutrients, kale also has lutein, which is good for preventing eye diseases. They are common in people with diabetes, so it is important that you protect yourself from them as much as possible.
Try adding kale to your scrambled eggs or soup, as it cooks down so you don’t notice it much. You can mix it in with other greens for a salad and top it with veggies and nuts, which is another way to get more superfoods into your meals.
These are not the only healthy foods recommended if you have diabetes, but they provide a good start. Remember that superfoods are that way because of the large amount of nutrients they have. By adding as many of them to your diet as you can, you will be healthier overall, and on your way to managing your diabetes a little better.