Best and Worst Foods for Diabetes


Your blood sugar level is greatly affected by the food you consume. Everyone knows this, but those with diabetes probably know it best. Your blood sugar level will rise when you consume calories that you do not need, particularly carbohydrates. Over time, high blood sugar can cause serious long-term issues, including nerve, kidney and heart damage.

You can control your blood sugar by making healthy food choices and eating at regular intervals. By eating healthy food regularly, you can train your body to better use insulin that it produces (or you receive from medication). You will be able to control your blood sugar levels and decrease your risk of long-term health problems.

Healthy eating starts with fruits, vegetables and whole grains. You can control your blood sugar with them.

No one diet or eating style will work for all people with diabetes. You want to find a way to eat that is healthy for you.

  • You and your doctor can agree on a target for your blood pressure, cholesterol and A1c test (which shows your average blood glucose levels over the last 3 months).
  • Your doctor and you will agree on a weight goal.
  • High blood sugar can cause long-term health problems.

The Best Foods For People With Diabetes

A healthy meal plan can help you keep your blood glucose within your target range. Healthy meal plans are not just about what you consume. You should also consider how much and when you consume food. You need to monitor your blood sugar levels and see how your diet impacts them.

If you have diabetes, here are some suggestions for healthier food choices that you can include in your daily diet:

Vegetables: This includes both starchy and not-starchy vegetables. Vegetables contain carbohydrates, the body’s main energy source. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Whole grains are more nutritious than refined white flour and can lower your blood sugar.

Fiber-rich vegetables, such as non-starchy ones, are the best carbohydrate sources. They are low in salt and fat unless you add them.

Choose from the following:

  • Whole grain foods (such as wheat, brown rice or quinoa), including bread, pasta or cereals.
  • Green peas, potatoes, and corn

Choose from the following vegetables for healthier alternatives to starchy vegetables:

  • Eat fresh veggies like broccoli, carrots and peppers raw, lightly steamed or roasted.
  • Lightly steamed plain frozen vegetables
  • Greens like kale spinach and arugula
  • Tabouli, and other nutrient-rich types of salads
  • Cans of vegetables with low sodium or without salt

Pick a variety when choosing vegetables: Dark greens, orange or red (carrots, red peppers), yellows and whites (onions) and even purples (eggplants).

Fruits: Fruits are a great source of vitamins and minerals. They are low in sodium and fat. They tend to be higher in carbohydrate than vegetables.


  • Fruits such as bananas, apples, oranges and grapes.
  • Fruits in their natural state, such as frozen or canned fruits without sugar.
  • Jams, jellies, and preserves that have little or no sugar added
  • Applesauce without added sugar

Protein: There are many choices, but you should avoid processed and salted meats, such as salami. They can be bad for your heart and blood pressure. Diabetes increases your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

You can choose from a variety of proteins.

  • Beans, peanuts and tofu are all plant-based protein sources
  • Fish and seafood such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardines
  • Other poultry and chicken
  • Eggs

Reduce the fat content of your meat. Trim the skin from poultry. Even if you are not vegetarian or vegan, try to incorporate some plant-based proteins. You will get fiber and nutrients that you won’t find in animal products.

Low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Low-fat or nonfat dairy is the best choice if you suffer from diabetes.


  • Low-fat Greek yogurt
  • Nonfat milk
  • Vegetarian milk alternatives (for instance, oat, almond, soy, or macadamia milk)

Fats and oils: It’s hard to resist them because they are tasty. It’s easy to overeat and gain weight. This can make it difficult to control your blood sugar. Fats come in different types, including saturated and unsaturated.

Saturated fats in large quantities are bad for your health. A little saturated fat is fine. Some experts recommend that you limit saturated fat to less than 10% of daily calories.

Trans fats can harm your heart. Trans fats are so bad for you that they’re banned in most food products in the U.S. Even if it says 0 grams trans fat, check the ingredients list to see if there’s anything “partially hydrogenated.” Trans fats are formed when partially hydrogenated oils are processed.

You can choose from a variety of fats and oils.

  • Nuts, seeds or avocados are natural sources of vegetable oils (high in calories so limit your portions).
  • Salmon, tuna or mackerel are all foods that contain omega-3 fatty acid.
  • Canola oil, grapeseed oil, or olive oil

Sweets: Sugary foods may cause dangerous spikes in blood sugar. The fiber in whole grains and vegetables helps to digest the carbohydrates slowly, which means they don’t have as much of an impact on your blood sugar. It will prevent your blood sugar levels from rising.

Once in a while, a small amount of sweet treats like candy, pies, cakes, and other desserts is fine. It’s best to opt for healthier choices most of the time. If you are at a party you could swap out a piece of cake or a scoop of ice-cream for a healthier carb such as dried fruit or plantains.

Artificial sweeteners can help you satisfy your cravings without adding carbs or calories. As long as you monitor your blood sugar, artificial sweeteners are safe for you in small quantities. These other options contain carbohydrates that are absorbed more slowly into your blood than table sugar. They do not pose a risk to your blood sugar level.

  • Choose from a variety of sweets include
  • Orange or passionfruit juice is a good example of a fresh juice.
  • Small portions of foods with low-carb, like strawberry salsa
  • Desserts made with natural sweeteners

After a few weeks of not eating sugar, your taste buds and body will adjust. You will not crave sugar as much. You will also enjoy the sweetness of fruits and other sugars.

Drinks: You may be getting more calories or fat from your favorite beverage than you expected. You should read the labels to know what is in each serving.

Choose from these better choices of drinks:

  • Water
  • Coffee black or with low-fat milk substitute and sugar substitute
  • Tea without sugar or with a lemon slice
  • Sweet lassi low in sugar
  • Light beer or wine in small quantities (3-5 oz), or non-fruity drinks
  • Zero-calorie sodas

What to Avoid When You Have Diabetes

You can eat your favorite foods, but you might need to change your eating habits.

If you have diabetes, try to limit the intake of these foods.


Limit the use of highly processed starches such as:

  • White rice
  • The refined white flour used in foods such as bread, tortillas or Naan
  • Fries such as tempura or french fries
  • Fried white flour tortilla chips

Limit the following non-starchy vegetables

  • Cans of vegetables containing a lot of sodium
  • Vegetables with a lot of butter, cheese or sauce added
  • Pickles and sauerkraut containing high-sodium


Limit artificially sweetened fruits, such as:

  • Canned fruits with heavy syrup of sugar
  • Chewy fruit rolls
  • Jam, jellies, and preserves are fine to use (except if you only have a small amount).
  • Fruit gummies sweetened


Limit your intake of the following protein sources:

  • Meats such as red and processed meats (such as beef, pork and lamb), hot dogs, sausages and brats.
  • Foods high in cholesterol such as organ meats, liver, and egg yolks
  • Fried meats
  • Ribs and other meat cuts with higher fat content
  • Pork bacon
  • Poultry without skin
  • Tofu or fish deep-fried
  • Beans cooked with lard


Limit the consumption of full-fat dairy foods, such as:

  • Whole or 2% Milk
  • Creme fraiche
  • Butter
  • Hard cheeses with full-fat content, like cheddar, Colby and Swiss cheese


Limit the following:

  • Foods containing partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), including margarine, vegetable shortening and vegetable oil.
  • Coconut and palm kernel oils are tropical oils with a high saturated fat content
  • Bacon grease


Limit the following processed foods:

  • Regular pancake or waffle Syrup
  • Deep-fried desserts such as funnel cakes or churros
  • Candy
  • Tarts, puddings
  • Processed snacks
  • Cookies and other baked products


Limit your consumption of these beverages

  • Coffee drinks with cream, sugar or flavored coffees
  • Sweetened tea
  • Drinks with sugar added, including juice, soda and sports or energy drinks
  • Alcohol (limit your alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks per day, depending on your weight and size. Avoid drinking on an empty stomach as it can cause your blood sugar levels to drop too low).


Your blood sugar can be affected by the food you consume. To keep your blood glucose within your target range, it is important to follow a healthy diet and track your blood sugar. There is no one diet that works for all diabetics, but there are foods you can eat. You can substitute unhealthy foods for healthier options and keep your sweets calories as an occasional treat. Speak to your doctor about a plan for achieving your health goals that works with your lifestyle and your preferences.

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