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Best Superfoods for Diabetics

Updated on August 4, 2017
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Freelance writer trying to defy the Millennial stereotype through hard work. Joy is in the little things.

Most people have a general idea of what foods are and aren't good for them. Unfortunately, diabetes can take this general knowledge and turn it on its head. Foods that are healthy for the average person can seriously harm a diabetic if eaten too often, and some foods are good for diabetics that the everyday person wouldn't consider overly healthy. If you, a friend, or family member suffer from diabetes, it's important to research which foods are healthy for diabetics in particular. Here are some of the healthiest superfoods for diabetics.

Legumes

Beans digest slowly because they are high in fiber and protein. This means they are especially good for managing blood glucose levels, as they will not overload the blood - any sugar they contain will release itself over time. Eating any type of bean, lentil, chickpea, or other legume regularly has been shown not only to improve blood glucose control but to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Salmon

Seafood in general tends to be very good for people with diabetes, but salmon is king of this category. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which lower triglycerides and blood fats. Studies have shown that these properties also cause salmon to protect those with diabetes against kidney problems.

Tree Nuts

Tree nuts provide a wide variety of health benefits, including the ability to help stabilize blood sugar. While the reason is not 100 percent clear, clinical trials showed that eating two servings of tree nuts each day helped stabilize the blood sugar levels of type 2 diabetics. Aside from this, they're a great source of fiber and protein, and contain high level of unsaturated fats.

Blueberries

While all berries are healthy, many contain high levels of natural sugars, which aren't great for diabetics. Blueberries in particular, however, have been shown to reduce the risk of type two diabetes by as much as 26 percent in those that consume at least three servings per week.

Broccoli

Research has shown that cruciferous vegetables are very filling and a great source of fiber. This makes them useful for those trying to lose or control their weight, which can contribute to the risk of type 2 diabetes. In addition to this, broccoli is high in antioxidants and vitamins A and C.

Sweet Potatoes

Regular potatoes are full of carbs, meaning they'll spike your blood sugar after your meal. Sweet potatoes, however, are a low glycemic index (GI) food when they are prepared by boiling. Therefore, as long as you don't add a lot of sugar to them yourself, they won't spike your sugar, but will still give you that touch of sweetness in your day to satisfy your cravings. They're also high in fiber and vitamins.

Dark, Leafy Greens

Eating a cup and a half of dark leafy greens (this includes spinach, kale, and collard greens) can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 14 percent. The reason is unknown, though some scientists suspect it is because of the antioxidants they contain coupled with their low levels of calories and carbohydrates.

Some leafy greens such as collard greens and Brussels sprouts are also a good source of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), a micronutrient that helps the body deal with stress and reduces blood sugar. Even better, it can help strengthen nerves damaged by diabetic neuropathy.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal, and really all whole grains, can decrease the risk of prediabetes. Eating fiber-rich grains early in the day, such as oatmeal for breakfast, can keep blood glucose levels under control throughout the day. Steel-cut or old-fashioned oats with no added sodium, sugar, or preservatives are the healthiest options. Top them with many of the other items on this list, such as blueberries or tree nuts, for added flavor and health benefits!

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate may seem counterintuitive for people with blood sugar issues, but dark chocolate, in moderate amounts, can actually reduce insulin resistance. It is rich in flavonoids, and research shows that these nutrients reduce insulin resistance, decrease insulin levels overall, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce food cravings.

Cinnamon

Several studies have shown that cinnamon is effective at helping you drop your blood sugar. In one study, people with type 2 diabetes that consumed one or more grams of cinnamon daily dropped their fasting blood sugar by 30 percent! Cinnamon also provides other health benefits such as lowering triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol by upwards of 25 percent. The reason it helps diabetics so much? It's rich in chromium, a mineral that enhances the effects of insulin.

Turmeric

Turmeric is the secret of the Indian continent, which maintains reasonable blood sugar levels despite a diet high in white rice and flour breads. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, regulates fat metabolism in the body. It acts directly on fat cells, pancreatic cells, kidney cells, and muscle cells to dampen inflammation and guard against a wide array of health issues. It is believed that it is these actions combined that allow turmeric to reverse insulin resistance and high blood sugar, making it a great treatment and super food for diabetics.

Low Fat Milk and Yogurt

In addition to the vitamin D that it provides for bone health, low-fat dairy foods have low GI scores. This means that (especially in the case of yogurt) you can get your sweet fix without impacting your sugar levels by much.

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