Diabetics Food List | 9 Foods for Diabetics

photo of vegetable salad in bowls | Diabetics Food List | Foods for Diabetics

The diabetic diet can be a bit tricky, so we recommend drawing up a diabetics food list. Here are staple foods to keep in your pantry.

RELATED: 12 Superfoods To Boost A Healthy Diet

The Diabetics Food List | Your Grocery and Pantry Cheat Sheet


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Understanding the Diabetic Diet

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Unlike in most diets where you would count calories, in a diabetic diet, you would be counting your carbs.

There are three kinds of carbohydrates – sugar, starch, and fiber. When broken down, they all turn into glucose, which serves as fuel for the body. Our body needs glucose for normal bodily functions.

But people with diabetes are not able to use up this energy efficiently. Because of this, the glucose stays in their blood.

Diabetic patients do not produce insulin, or the body does not use it efficiently, which regulates the glucose in your body. Because of this, people need to control their blood sugar through their diet.

Keeping staple nutrient-dense low-carb foods could help protect a diabetic person from the conditions associated with diabetes. And more importantly, it could help them control their glucose levels.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is a meal planning tool that details how much of each food group to include on your plate to create the best diabetic diet. They call it the Diabetes Plate Method.

  • 1/2 non-starchy veggies
  • 1/4 carbs
  • 1/4 protein
  • paired with water or a low-calorie beverage

You will want to pin this diabetic diet sheet on your fridge.

Diabetics Food List | Low-Starch Veggies

1. Green, Leafy Vegetables

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Nutrient-dense, vitamin-rich, and calorie-efficient, a healthful diet is never complete without green, leafy vegetables.

Your salad greens may be rich in antioxidants that could help lower your risk of cancer and disease. They are also excellent sources of essential vitamins and brain-healthy nutrients. Some diabetic patients may experience cognitive decline, so eating some brain food could help keep you healthy.

Dark green vegetables are known to have a low glycemic index. Include some of these vegetables into your diet:

  • lettuce
  • arugula
  • spinach
  • kale
  • broccoli
  • mustard
  • bok choy

They lend their aroma to a good stew and add a crunchy and satisfying texture to your salad. Its light flavor may also complement a fatty slab of baked salmon.

2. Carrots

orange carrots on table | Diabetes symptoms

Carrots are a rich source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin A.

Dietary fiber may help the body absorb your blood sugar slowly, keeping your sugar levels from spiking. Fiber could also aid in weight loss or maintain a healthy waistline.

A 2017 study found that vitamin A—or a lack thereof—may play a role in diabetes. Researchers believe that vitamin A may be essential to beta cells, which is essential in insulin production.

Keep in mind that while this is a new and exciting study, we need more research before we can consider this as conclusive evidence. The authors also note that while a healthful diet includes vitamin A, too much of it could be dangerous.

You could get a healthy amount of vitamins from your diet. Consult with your doctor before taking supplements.

Diabetic Food List | Protein-Rich Meat

3.  Fish

one piece baked salmon grilled pepper | Diabetic diet recipes

Other than cognitive decline, diabetic people are at higher risk of heart disease. So it's essential to get your weekly dose of heart-loving omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 could lower your risk of inflammation and heart attack.

The American Diabetes Association recommends chowing on fatty fish twice weekly. Here's their menu:

  • salmon
  • herring
  • sardines
  • mackerel
  • trout
  • albacore tuna

Enjoy them baked, broiled, or grilled on the pan. They pair well with a side of quinoa and a glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

4. Chicken

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Protein foods are an essential part of your food group. They are one of the sources of energy (calories) and could be excellent sources of B-vitamins, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

Because the nutrients are contained in the chicken meat, you can do away with the chicken skins. This could also lessen the fat content of your chicken piccata. A low-fat diet could help keep your heart healthy and lower your risk of heart disease.

Sick of chicken? These ADA-approved plant-based protein foods make great substitutes:

  • beans
  • hummus
  • falafel
  • lentils
  • peas
  • soy nuts
  • nuts
  • soy products

Are you a chef at heart? Try your hand at plant-based meat substitutes. Cook up a meatless hamburger patty using cauliflower, soy, legumes, or other healthful substitutes. A dash of herbs and spices will give it a mouth-watering aroma.

RELATED: 10 Ways To Eat A More Plant-Based Diet For A Healthy Happy Life

5. Eggs

six organic eggs on white tray | Diabetic meaning

Which came first? The chicken or the egg? How about you have eggs on avocado toast for breakfast, then a grilled chicken sandwich for lunch?

Eggs are an egg-celent source of protein and are one of the most versatile foods in your pantry. They are a rich source of essential B vitamins and could leave you feeling fuller for longer. This may help obese patients with diabetes achieve their weight loss goals.

Diabetic Food List | Good Carbs

6. Blueberries

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Blueberries are healthful sources of good carbs (fructose) and may be heart-protective and brain-healthy.

They are known to be one of the leading sources of antioxidants, which could protect you from free radicals and keep a number of diseases and cancer at bay.

Other berries to complement your Greek yogurt include:

  • blackberries
  • cherries
  • raspberries
  • strawberries

Snack on half a cup of berries between meals to satisfy both your hunger pangs and sweet tooth.

7. Quinoa

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The large whole-grain superfood packs a punch with minerals, dietary fiber, and a low glycemic index.  Nutrient-dense, low in calories, and very filling, quinoa could help you make the most of your meal and make it extra satisfying while staying within your caloric limit.

A 100-gram serving of quinoa contains a hefty 2.8 g of dietary fiber with only 21.3 g of total carbs.

And for those with celiac disease, quinoa may be naturally gluten-free.

Quinoa is a scrumptious and savory side dish that complements your protein foods.

Diabetic Food List | Beverages

8. Club Soda, Seltzer, or Sparkling Water

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Club soda, seltzer, or sparkling water will be your beverage partners as you begin to remove soda from your diabetic diet.

The three drinks are carbonated, which could help you satisfy your cravings for a fizzy drink. And for those that struggle to meet their daily water requirement, these thirst-quenching substitutes could help you get your fill.

They may not be nutritious but are a low-calorie healthful alternative to soda.

9. Green Tea (Unsweetened)

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You can have your tea and drink it too—unsweetened.

Green tea may help you get your blood sugar levels under control. In addition to boosting your body's insulin activities, green tea may be:

  • antibacterial
  • antiviral
  • anticarcinogenic
  • antimutagenic

If you rely on your cup of joe to perk you up in the morning, note that green tea also contains caffeine but in smaller amounts. And this may be great news for diabetics.

Evidence shows that caffeine may increase your blood sugar level and for a long period. For this reason, some healthcare providers may recommend drinking decaffeinated coffee instead.

Here's an infographic guide that you can use. Feel free to download, save and share it with your loved ones:
Diabetics Food List

Have your tea as is. Adding dairy milk or soy milk may cancel its diabetes-managing potential.

Check out this video for more ideas on foods to add to your grocery list:

Not only are these foods great for managing your diabetes, but they are also nutrient-dense alternatives that help you make the most of every bite. These superfoods are versatile and play deliciously well with other foods.

The Diabetes Plate Method helps simplify meal planning for diabetic patients.

Without a cure for diabetes, your best bet to leading a healthy life is to live a healthy lifestyle. And that begins with improving your diet.

Which of these diet food do you usually have?

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Do you feel confident you can craft a meal plan? Is there anything else you would like us to discuss? Let us know in the comments section below.


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