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Keys To A Healthy Diabetes Diet

May 14, 2020
Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen

Diabetes is a serious condition that affects more than 30 million Americans, or about 9.4% of the population. A person with diabetes often must take insulin to keep control of their blood sugar levels, as their pancreas no longer produces it for them. There are two different kinds of diabetes, commonly referred to as type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Both types can lead to health problems down the line, but the difference between the two is that type 1 diabetes is usually genetic and can be caused by environmental factors, while type 2 diabetes is mostly brought on by lifestyle factors, such as poor diet and lack of exercise. 


Those with diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) must watch what they eat to keep their blood sugar levels in a healthy range. Foods high in carbs can lead to blood sugar spikes, while salty and fatty foods can aggravate a person’s risk for developing heart disease or stroke. Some types of carbohydrates lacking in nutrients–like white bread, pasta, and baked goods–can also make blood sugar control more difficult to manage. If you have diabetes and are unsure of what you should be eating, here are some doctor-recommended foods that you can add to your diet.

Healthy Eating Habits

Healthy Eating Habits

Healthy carbohydrates


All carbohydrates break down into sugar when introduced into the body but not all carbohydrates are equal. Many food items are considered to be “simple carbohydrates,” like candy, soda and regular sugar, but some processed foods can also fall into this category, as they contain little to no nutrients. Simple carbohydrates break down quickly in the body and can cause spikes in blood sugar. 


By contrast, “complex carbohydrates” are foods like whole-grain bread and pasta, brown rice, starchy vegetables, and legumes like beans and lentils. These are considered healthier carbohydrates, and every person with diabetes should get as much of them as possible in their diet.


Foods rich in fiber


Fiber is great for regulating blood sugar levels. Plenty of foods are high in fiber including vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. Adding fiber to your diet is a good way to keep your blood sugar under control.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Explained

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Explained

Foods high in “good” fats


Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, or “good” fats, can lower cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease. Some foods high in “good” fats include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, as well as foods like avocados and many kinds of nuts. Another source of “good” fats is olive oil, which you can use as a cooking oil to replace whatever you were using before. You can also try avocado oil as a healthy alternative.


If you have diabetes and are struggling to manage the condition, try adding a few of these foods to your plate for your next meal and see how your blood sugar responds afterwards.



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