BEST & WORST FOODS FOR DIABETES
WHAT TO EAT
Fatty fish/Omega supplements
We call them fatty fish because they contain generous amounts of omega 3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA). Tuna, Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines, Herring & Hilsa, Vetkki, Rawas, Katla and Rohu come under Indian freshwater fatty fish. EPA is good for skin and DHA is extremely beneficial for brain and eye function.
For vegetarians with diabetes, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, chiaseeds and omega supplements are good sources of omega 3 to support good functioning of heart, liver, intestines, and skin.
Egg is the richest & inexpensive source of high biological value protein as compared to other protein sources. They are one of the highly nutritious foods that also contain some further beneficial nutrients such as vitamin A, D, K, lutein, selenium, potassium, biotin, choline and folate.
Diabetic person should consume 1 whole egg or 2 egg whites daily, but they are recommended not to exceed more than 1 whole egg per day. This is because maintaining sugar levels as well as cholesterol level is very crucial for person suffering from diabetes, as egg yolk contains high amount of cholesterol that raises the risks of various cardiovascular diseases.
Nuts are super foods that are highly beneficial for all when consumed in moderation. They contain lots of dietary fibers which absorb the carbs slowly and reduces the risk of hyperglycemia and hypercholesterolemia. Though they are slightly expensive but are packed with plenty of powerful nutrients such as protein, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, especially Vitamin E, and minerals like magnesium.
For people living with diabetes, unfortunately consuming all kinds of nuts in more than required amounts is not a wise decision. Some nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachio, cashew nuts and peanuts when consumed in excess, specially the fried & salty form, can spike sugar levels and do more harm than good. Hence, 10g of each variety or 10-12 in number with all nuts mixed together is the max allowed amount per day.
Blueberries have many valuable effects on overall health, especially in diabetes. Blueberries contain fiber, Vitamin C, E, K, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, folate & antioxidants. The glycemic index of 100 gm blueberries is almost half of one, single potato. Blueberries also reduce bad cholesterol, triglycerides, abdominal fat, hypertension and the risk of cancers. However, in India, blueberries are subject to availability during specific seasons only.
Dalia is also called broken wheat. It is very delicious, nutritious, and quick to prepare meal. We can make recipes out of it as per our choice and taste, like sweetened with milk & nuts, salty, spicy with lots of vegetables and pulses. It contains extensive amounts of fiber, carbs, vitamins and minerals (manganese, magnesium, iron etc). Dietary fiber in it helps to reduce the risk of heart diseases, obesity, constipation, cancer etc.
Broccoli is a highly nutritious cruciferous vegetable. It is loaded with antioxidants and is a good source of fiber, Vitamin A, B, C, E, K, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, calcium and a sulfur-containing plant compound “sulforaphane”. Raw broccoli has more sulforaphane than cooked one, but having said that, raw broccoli can also be harmful to take directly because of microscopic pests and unknown pesticides. You are highly recommended to sauté and boil broccoli in all forms before consumption. Broccoli never elevates blood glucose levels. Actually, they don’t have high impact on blood sugar and can be an integral part of diet for diabetic person.
These tiny seeds are filled with many essential nutrients that have useful benefits in various chronic health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart diseases, digestive problems and cancer.
Fenugreek seeds are rich source of soluble fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It helps to boost breastmilk production in lactating women and testosterone levels in men. People with diabetes can consume either 1-2 teaspoon of these seeds orally in direct or in powder form. Fenugreek seeds dipped in water, especially, overnight are also highly beneficial for people who cannot consume seeds or powder directly. You are recommended not to exceed 1-2 teaspoon per day, as it can cause stomach upset.
Chia seeds are low in carbs & high in fiber which help in reducing blood sugar, high blood pressure levels, and further prevents constipation and inflammation. Chia seeds are also good sources of protein, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, omega 3 and antioxidants. Hence, consuming chia seeds thrice in a week, not more than 1-2 teaspoon in water, curd and smoothies, is recommended.
Beans are miraculous power food which is low in carbohydrates & the best choice for diabetics without any complications. Beans are a must for vegetarians because of their high protein quality and low glycemic index. These are also the rich source of lean protein, dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron & vital vitamins. Nutritional constituents of beans vary from one variety to other depending upon topography.
Sattu is made by combination of 3 portions of roasted Bengal/ground gram (Chana) and 1 portion of whole wheat (geehu). It is highly rich in fiber and low in glycemic index. This is one of the cheapest readily available summer drinks famous in rural and semi-urban areas to cool down the body and especially have many health benefits for diabetics. High amount of fiber in sattu helps in constipation, digestion, acidity, detoxifies the body, reduces the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disorders.
WHAT NOT TO EAT
This is a myth that a diabetic person should completely be off sugar. Sugars are not only added in tea, milk and sweets, but they are also naturally found in foods. There are 2 types of sugars; simple and complex sugar. Both sugars belong to the carbohydrate family. Simple sugars are found in table sugar, fruit sugar, milk sugar etc and complex sugars are present in fibrous vegetable, legumes and whole grains. However, consumption of complex sugar is better than simple sugars because they have more nutritive properties along with slow glucose release in the blood than compared to simple sugars.
Bakery items/ Refined flour
Refined white flour is also known as “maida” in the local market. All the necessary nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals are lost during the making & processing of “maida”. Refined flour is found to be very high in glycemic index and food products such as cakes, pizza, cookies, burgers made from it release rapid and huge amount of sugars or glucose into our bloodstream which spike the blood sugar levels. Pancreas secrete insulin (a hormone) to keep blood sugar at safe levels, however, if insulin levels are faulty then the body undergoes hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels).
Regular consumption of refined flour food items forces the pancreas to do extra efforts in producing insulin making it very difficult for people with diabetes to digest food easily. Additionally, the frequent intake of products like cakes, puffs, pastries, pizza, noodles, Maggie, and biscuits lead to weight gain, imposing risk of uncontrolled diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
We often rely and depend on commercially available sweeteners, but did you know, very few artificial sweeteners are approved by FDA (Food and drug administration) for daily consumption? They can do more harm than good if taken daily without knowing about them. Some of them are found many times sweeter than normal sugar & needed in very small amounts to make foods taste sweet. Hence before you buy any sugar replacing sweeteners, check the origin (chemical or plant), labels and calorific counts before consuming. It is recommended to buy products which are plant-based and natural in constituency. To be noted that fizzy drinks, packed fruit juices, sauces, and candies may contain artificial sweeteners which seem to be sugar friendly.
Fast foods with preservatives
It is a well-acclaimed truth that fast foods like pizza, burger, sandwich, biscuits, noodles etc. are not only high in calories, sodium(salt), sugar (processed carbohydrates), and fat (trans and saturated fat) but are also low in essential nutrients such as fibers, vitamins & minerals.
Habit of eating fast food majorly can lead to diabetes, heart disorders, hypertension and obesity. Some popular food preservatives used in making these processed foods such as monosodium glutamate, sodium nitrite, artificial sweeteners, Sodium benzoate etc are very harmful for the nervous system and overall functioning of the body.
There has been substantial research which hints that consuming white rice everyday actually increases the chances of getting type 2 diabetes. White rice is found to be very high in glycemic index and extremely low in fibers. During processing, the removal of husk, bran, and germ or during polishing of rice, the rice loses all its nutrients. Polished or white rice has less protein, mineral, biotin, niacin, moisture and fatty content than brown or unpolished rice.
People with diabetes must abstain from white rice. They are only recommended to have white rice once in a while that too in limited quantity.
They can substitute white rice with brown or red rice and can have it twice a week with good amount of pulses and vegetables.
Replace potato with sweet potato
Just like mango is the king of fruits, potato is the king of vegetables, because it is easily available and merges with all the green leafy vegetables. Unfortunately, potato contains high amount of starch like white rice and refined flour which releases high amount of sugars in the bloodstream often spiking the sugar levels in the body.
We are not recommending to completely avoid potatoes, instead, we are emphasizing more on the method of cooking, portion sizes and replacement of potato with sweet potato. Sweet potato has more fiber and vital minerals & vitamins than normal potato. Boiled potato (not more than 1 potato) 50gms is to be consumed per day for best diabetes management.
Canned drinks/fruit juices
Generally fruit juices are healthy for everyone but people living with diabetes must avoid fruit juices as much as possible because they contain high amount of concentrated simple sugars which spike blood sugar levels very quickly and frequent consumption of fruit juices can damage other organs too. All fruit juices, whether fresh/canned are high in carbohydrates (sugar), and low in fiber, vitamins and minerals which help in managing blood glucose levels. Whole fruits like apple, pear, plum, guava, berries etc with outer covering of fruit are better option than sieved watery juice.
Maintaining normal blood sugar levels is an everyday goal for diabetic people. No need to avoid all favorite foods, only unhealthy foods need to be avoided. Canned beverages are full of artificial sweeteners which are dangerous for all, but especially poisonous for diabetic people. They not only spike blood sugar levels, but also disturb insulin resistance.
The only recommended fruit juices for people with diabetes are lime, lemon, orange, cranberry and blueberry juice in moderate amounts, not more than twice in a week. Instead of fruit juices, vegetable juices, smoothies and milkshakes can be a good choice for endocrine related disorders.
With special reference to people who cannot eat fruits directly due to medical/dental conditions, they are encouraged to try eating grated to finely chopped fruits.
Alcohol not only contains lots of calories but they also spike the sugar levels instantly. Alcohol when consumed in moderation daily can also make your diabetes unmanageable. Alcohol consumption leads to many complications in diabetics. Alcohol contains carbohydrates, which can instantly raise sugar levels and in few cases, it may lead to hyperglycemia (sudden high sugar levels), hypoglycemia (sudden low sugar levels) and dehydration.
It is recommended to have only (30ml) occasionally for both men & women along with some solid food such as nuts or protein. Never consume on empty stomach.
Sauces often make the food tastier and more interesting. But they contain hidden sugar and salts which are very harmful not only for diabetics but also for people who are having high blood pressure. The regular consumption of processed sauces, ketchups, jam, jelly and pickles etc can lead to many detrimental effects.
Instead of tomato ketchup, consuming tomato in salad or in form of puree helps to reduce blood pressure, heart disorders, and prostrate problems along with diabetes. Even Jam/jelly made of natural fruits and fruit juices contain additional white sugar, preservatives, pectin or other gel-forming additives which make them unfit for consumption on a regular basis.
Honey is natural form of sweetener with vital benefits. However, the honey we buy commercially is often adulterated with components which will do more harm than good. Jaggery, white sugar and various preservatives are abundantly used to give its color and texture so that it is highly bought by people. It’s a trap! Until and unless you know the source from where honey is procured, you are recommended not to use it as a substitute for sugar.
All the compilation of the content presented has been curated by medical experts. However, this content is specifically designed for promoting health awareness and information only. This content is not a substitute or replacement of any physician’s advice/diagnosis or consultation.
For any health-related queries and opinions one must contact his/her preferred doctor or take second opinions at [email protected]