When you have prediabetes or diabetes, a healthy diabetes meal plan is key to managing your blood sugar. Sometimes it can be tricky to know which foods and drinks are the best choices, but these 10 picks can help keep your numbers in check.
1. Beans (Of Any Kind!)
Whether they're lentils, kidney, pinto, black or garbanzo, beans are a low glycemic index food. That means their carbohydrates are gradually released so they're less likely to cause blood sugar spikes. They're so beneficial that one recent study found that eating a daily cup of beans for three months as part of a low-glycemic index diet lowered HbA1c by half a percentage point.
Try it: Swap in beans for half the meat in tacos or your favorite chili recipe.
You might think that there's no room in a diabetic meal plan for fruit, but apples are also low glycemic. Aiming for foods that are low or medium on the glycemic index is one way to manage blood sugar levels. And eating an apple a day has its benefits – they are high in fiber, vitamin C as well as fat-free! Not to mention a portable and easy snack option.
Try it: Toss an apple in your lunch bag or grab one between meals. Bake them and add cinnamon for warm treat.
These crunchy nuts are rich in magnesium, a mineral that may help your body use its own insulin more effectively. Try working more almonds into your diet — one ounce (about 23 whole nuts) supplies nearly 20 percent of your daily dose of this blood sugar-balancing mineral. Plus, nuts like almonds are high in monounsaturated fatty acids, protein, and fiber, which makes them a great way to help manage blood glucose levels.
Try it: For healthy snacking on-the-go, pack one-ounce portions of almonds into single-serve containers.
This leafy green has just 21 calories per cooked cup and is filled with blood sugar-friendly magnesium and fiber. Plus, you can enjoy spinach raw, sautéed with olive oil, cooked or even blended making it a versatile choice too!
Try it: Toss a heaping handful of baby spinach into your next smoothie or use it in place of lettuce in a salad.
5. Chia Seeds
You might have heard that losing or managing weight is one of the best things you can do to improve your blood sugar. Chia seeds can help with that. In one study, people with diabetes who added about an ounce of chia seeds to a calorie controlled diet for six months shed four pounds and trimmed an inch-and-a-half from their waistlines. Aside from being packed with fiber, these gems also contain protein and provide 18 percent of your recommended daily intake of calcium.
Try it: Combine a quarter-cup of chia seeds with one cup of 1 percent or nonfat milk and one-half cup of diced fruit. Refrigerate overnight and enjoy for breakfast the next morning.
6. Glucerna® Shakes and Bars
When you're having a hectic day it can be difficult to eat right. Glucerna shakes and bars can make things easier. Made by Abbott, they have blends of carbohydrates that are slowly digested and absorbed to help minimize blood sugar spikes. With fewer than 200 calories per shake and less than 160 calories per bar, they're a smart, portion-controlled choice.
Try it: Stash a few Glucerna bars or shakes in your car or desk drawer so you'll always have a healthy snack on hand — no matter how busy your day is.
Another fruit option: the evidence of the health benefits of eating blueberries is pretty compelling. Blueberries contain compounds that have been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease and help improve how your body uses insulin. One study showed that eating the equivalent of about 2 cups of blueberries daily improved insulin sensitivity in overweight people with insulin resistance. They're also a great source of fiber and other nutrients such as vitamin C and antioxidants.
Try it: Take a half-cup of fresh blueberries (or defrosted, frozen blueberries) and spoon over plain, unsweetened yogurt. Or add a cup of blueberries to your smoothie.
Oatmeal isn't just good for your heart. It can benefit your blood sugar too. Just like apples, steel cut and rolled oats have a low glycemic index. Just keep in mind that while steel cut and rolled oats are great picks, highly processed instant and quick oats tend to be higher on the glycemic index so they're not as blood sugar-friendly.
Try it! Opt for steel or rolled oats cooked oatmeal with blueberries for a hearty, hot breakfast.
This golden spice contains curcumin, a substance that may keep your pancreas healthy and prevent prediabetes from turning into Type 2 diabetes. How well does it work? When researchers gave participants who had prediabetes 1500 mg of a curcumin supplement daily or a placebo for nine months, 16 percent of people in the placebo group went on to become diabetic, while the entire curcumin group remained diabetes free. This study provides some insight into how an ancient spice like turmeric can help improve how the body can improve its sensitivity to insulin.
Try it: Curry powder is filled with turmeric. Sprinkle some into your next veggie stir-fry for a curcumin kick or talk to a health care professional about using a supplement.
10. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea has long been used for a variety of ailments. Existing research shows that it has antioxidant and anticancer properties, and a recent study has found that it may help you manage your blood sugar levels as well. When participants in the study drank one cup of chamomile tea after meals three times per day for six weeks, they showed a reduction in blood sugar levels, insulin, and insulin resistance.
Try it! Replace an after-dinner cocktail with a freshly brewed cup of chamomile tea. Try adding a slice of lemon for flavor and an extra dose of vitamin C.
With these tasty foods and drinks better blood sugar management is in the bag!
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