NUTRITION CARE

10 Foods and Drinks to Help Manage Blood Sugar

Diabetes: 10 Foods and Drinks to Help Manage Blood Sugar

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Diabetes friendly food options are as close as your kitchen. 

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NOV. 09, 2018    5 MIN. READ
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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 good 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 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.

2. Apples

You might think that there's no room in a diabetic meal plan for fruit, but apples are also low glycemic. Aiming for foods like apples 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.

3. Almonds

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.

4. Spinach

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 per 1,000 calories day 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 one-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.

7. Blueberries

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 two 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, and blueberries are a fantastic way to get your fill.

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.

8. Oatmeal

Oatmeal isn't just good for your heart. It can benefit your blood sugar too. Steel cut and rolled oats have a low-glycemic index and are a better choice than foods such as white bread, bran flakes or corn flakes. 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.

9. Turmeric

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!

Diabetes and Immunity: How Prioritizing Nutrition and Muscle Health Can Help

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As we navigate cold and flu season with uncertainty remaining around the pandemic, it’s an important time to consider the best ways to support immune health. Immune system support is even more critical for people with diabetes as viral infections can increase inflammation and contribute to more severe complications, like we’ve seen with COVID-19.1 While many with diabetes already consider good nutrition a part of overall well-being and blood sugar control, some may be surprised about how their diet and muscle health can impact the immune system.

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Half of Americans Living with Diabetes May Not Get Enough Protein

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Like everyone else, people living with diabetes should strive to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. You don't need to cook one meal for yourself and another for the rest of your family. Well-balanced meals, which include lean protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains, are healthy for everyone and help manage blood sugar.

When preparing those meals, it is important to prioritize protein.  Protein is a nutrient that has a minimal impact on blood sugar levels and has the added benefits of helping satisfy hunger. Try to aim for 20-25 grams of protein at every meal and find snacks with higher protein quantities.

new study from Abbott and The Ohio State University published in Nutrients that found that half of adults surveyed in the U.S. living with diabetes did  not get enough protein in their diet.

The study highlights protein intake as an essential and often overlooked consideration in meeting the nutritional needs of people living with diabetes and its importance in supporting strength and mobility. 

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