6 Great Foods for Diabetics
As Keena's Kitchen is a service that provides custom menus for people with special dietary needs, the requests for meals for diabetics often come our way. Nearly 10% of the U.S. population has diabetes; and one in three people have pre-diabetes where their blood sugar levels are higher than normal. That's a pretty high statistic and to give you a bit more of an idea, it means that roughly 29 million people currently have diabetes, so it's something well worth talking about.
To understand what makes a particular food good for diabetics we first need to understand what diabetes is. It is an illness that inhibits the ability of cells to metabolize the glucose in the bloodstream causing a buildup of sugar in the blood, and if left un-managed it can affect and damage almost any part of the body!
Although there is as yet no cure for diabetes, it's progress can be slowed and damage to the body can be minimized through exercise and diet. When it comes to diet we obviously we want to avoid foods that are high in carbohydrates such as sugar to minimize large spikes in blood sugar levels, but just as important is our fat consumption. Not all fats are created equal and because of that some of the fats we eat can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, one of the major complications of diabetes. Fats that we want to avoid are saturated fats such as those found in high fat non-organic meat and dairy products as well as palm oil and hydrogenated oils, such as alternative butter spreads. Even more so, we want to avoid trans fats which are present in most processed snack foods, packaged baked goods, shortening and margarine.
With all of the restrictions you might ask "how can I enjoy a healthy diabetes-friendly diet"? A mostly plant based diet with a bit of lean meat meets both of the needs for low carbohydrates, and consumption of "healthy fats". That actually leaves you with a host of options; so below we have highlighted 6 delicious foods which meet the requirements and have particular health benefits for diabetics:
Avocados: These are one of the best foods for diabetics because they are very low in sugar, full of nutrients and minerals, and high in "healthy fats".
Dark Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale and collards are low in carbs and calories while being high in vitamins and minerals so you can eat as much as you like - you don't hear your doctor say that about many foods! These greens often get a bad rap as being boring but a quick web search will show plenty of recipes to make them taste great. They are also great in smoothies.
Blueberries: Most berries just taste great anyway and are also full of anti oxidants, vitamins and fiber but blueberries have extra benefits for diabetics. Use them in smoothies and desserts or just eat them as they are. Yum!
Salmon: High in good fats and Omega 3 fatty acid which is essential for building healthy cells --the body can't make these fatty acids on its own and must get them from food sources. Be sure to ask your fish monger about mercury levels and non-gmo status. Purchasing your fish from sustainable sources is important too!
Nuts: Low in carbs while high in minerals, healthy fats and Omega 3 fatty acids. Almonds, walnuts and cashews have been shown to have particular benefits for diabetics while also being incredibly versatile and delicious. Put them in salads, on top of your desserts or throw a handful in your morning oatmeal!
Sweet Potatoes: Full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, sweet potatoes and yams are now considered a better choice for diabetics and much tastier than their pale relatives.
So no matter how you slice it, these foods are some of the best for diabetics; but you don't have to have diabetes to enjoy these benefits - in fact eating them now may help to prevent you from becoming a diabetic, so eat and enjoy!