Lots of foods can be healthy choices if you have diabetes or are concerned about getting it. But a few really pack a punch with vitamins, minerals, fiber, or healthy fats. Make room on your plate for these nutritional powerhouses.
1. Avocados contain monounsaturated fat, which helps lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. That’s important, because diabetes nearly doubles the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
2. Olive oil is another great source of monounsaturated fat. Plus, one study showed that replacing butter with extra-virgin olive oil may reduce blood sugar spikes after meals.
3. Whole grains—such as whole wheat or rye bread and whole oats—count as carbs. Yet they don’t raise blood sugar as much as refined grains do. They’re also high in fiber, which helps you feel full for longer after eating. That’s a bonus when you’re watching your weight.
4. Dried beans—such as kidney, pinto, and black beans—are a super source of fiber. Plus, they provide protein, magnesium, and potassium. Beans also contain carbs. But they don’t raise blood sugar as much as, say, a slice of white bread.
5. Dark green leafy vegetables—such as spinach, collards, and kale—are low in carbs and calories. Yet they’re high in iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
6. Berries—such as blueberries and strawberries—are packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Studies suggest that eating blueberries may help improve insulin resistance—a health concern that increases the risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
7. Sweet potatoes are a starchy vegetable. They raise blood sugar, but not as much as many starches do. They’re loaded with vitamin A and fiber. Plus, they provide potassium.
8. Fatty fish—such as salmon, mackerel, and albacore tuna—are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats help prevent clogging of the arteries. The American Diabetes Association recommends eating fish twice a week. Choose baked or grilled fish, not fried.