If you’re looking for the best foods to eat if you have diabetes, this post is the perfect place for you to be at. Only a diabetic person can know how difficult it is to manage their diet and control sugar levels but with the proper knowledge of food to include and avoid it can be achievable. 

Best Foods to Eat if you have Diabetes

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Being Aware of which food to eat if you are a diabetic is important

Even after having medicines for diabetes management day and night, it gets difficult to manage sugar levels but with a perfect diet and having and avoiding some particular foods a diabetic can also have the privilege of a healthy life.

Ayurveda talks about importance of a balanced life. Medicine only help when the life energies i.e. doshas are in balance. As per ayurveda, proper diet, physical activities and mental wellness is important to prevent and cure diseases

A nutritious and balanced diet plays an essential role in taking care of your diabetes and problems related to it effectively. It has been mentioned in Ayurveda and modern scientific research also supports the fact that informed food choices for the people living with diabetes can help them stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of complications by enhancing their overall health. 

In this post, let’s talk about the 10 best foods to eat if you are a diabetic and 10 foods to avoid to maintain a healthy lifestyle and overall well being.

10 Best Foods to Eat if you have Diabetes

With these food items for diabetics in your mind, you won’t need to have boring or untasteful food in the name of precaution. Just include these food items in your diabetes or prediabetes journey to satisfy your taste buds and manage your diabetes effectively. 

  1. Whole Grains: 
Whole Grains

A balanced diet is incomplete without whole grains. Including a variety of them in your diet can provide you sustainable energy, keep you feeling full for a longer period of time, and can help regulate your blood sugar levels due to their lower glycemic index (GI) compared to refined flour. 

They are rich in nutrients and fiber and help to prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar levels by releasing glucose into the bloodstream from time to time.

Some of particular Whole Grains that are beneficial for Diabetic Diet:

  • Whole Wheat: Whole Wheat or also known as Gehu, is a staple Indian diet addition in the form of Roti, but still many may not be aware of its benefits of rich fiber content which can be a good addition in a diabetic diet. 
  • Barley: Barley is a rich source of both soluble and insoluble fiber which makes it effective in managing blood sugar levels and good gut health. 
  • Millets: Millets also known as Bajra, have been used since ages in the Indian Diet and its benefits are world renowned. These are nutrient-dense whole grains with a low glycemic index and are a good source of fiber and antioxidants.
  • Quinoa: If you’re a rice lover and missing your hot plate of pulao or rice then you should add quinoa to your diet as the nearest substitute to rice. It is a complete source of protein and rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  1. Legumes: 

For a diabetic person, Legumes can be an excellent choice to include in their diet due to their various health benefits and their positive effects on blood sugar management by helping to slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. They are amazing sources of plant-based protein and fiber.

Legumes are a group of plants that includes beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas which are:

  • Beans: Beans can be an excellent choice as a food for diabetic as they are nutrient packed and fiber rich with low glycemic index. It’s a good source of protein and helps you to control hunger, controlling overeating. It’s also good for your digestive system and also supports blood sugar control. 
  • Lentils:  Other than being low GI, Lentils offers several benefits for diabetes management. It helps promote stable levels of blood sugar. As it’s rich in fiber it prevents rapid blood sugar spikes after meals and provides steady energy. It is a source of protein and nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants supporting overall health. 
  • Chickpeas:  By incorporating chickpeas into a diabetic diet, one can manage their weight, heart concerns, and blood pressure as it is/ rich in fiber, protein, and potassium respectively which supports overall health by controlling blood sugar levels. 
  • Peas: Peas are a nutritional and very beneficial food for the diabetic people as due to its combination of fiber and complex carbohydrates results in slower release of glucose into the bloodstream, providing sustained energy and better blood sugar control. 
  1. Leafy Greens: 
Leafy Greens

Leafy Greens are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and are low in calories and carbohydrates which makes them a good source to improve insulin sensitivity. 

  • Spinach: Spinach is nutrient rich leafy vegetable making it a valuable for diabetes friendly diet. It is rich in alpha lipoic acid which helps to enhance insulin sensitivity and improve glucose utilization. Other than that it is nutrient dense and fulfills the requirements of Vitamin A,C,K and B, minerals like iron, magnesium and potassium. 
  • Fenugreek Leaves:  Fenugreek Leaves also known as methi leaves contain soluble fiber and compounds like trigonelline which may improve insulin sensitivity and help to regulate blood sugar levels effectively.
  1. Non-Starchy Vegetables: 
Non Starchy Food

The vegetables that are low in carbohydrates and high in fiber help to add flavor and nutrients to the meals of the diabetic people. 

  • Cauliflower: It is a diabetes friendly vegetable as it is high in nutrition and its antioxidant properties help to fight oxidative stress and inflammation which are common problems for diabetics.
  • Broccoli: Broccoli contributes to diabetes management as it’s low in carbohydrates, and high in fiber and nutrients. It helps to improve insulin sensitivity by improving blood sugar levels.
  • Bell Peppers: Bell peppers also known as Capsicum is a versatile vegetable which can be included in various dishes and add nutritional value to your diet.
  1. Low- Glycemic Fruits: Consuming fruits in moderation that have a lower glycemic index and are rich in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants, can be beneficial for diabetics. 
Low Glycemic Fruits
Low Glycemic Fruits

  • Apples: Apples contain vitamins like vitamin C and antioxidants which are essential and help to support overall health. They also help to reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.
  • Pears: Pears are rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. These are high in water content which helps to keep the body hydrated.
  • Berries: Berries are rich in antioxidants, nutrients and fiber and low in GI which makes them a superfood for diabetics.
  1. Greek Yogurt:  
Greek Yogurt

Green Yogurt can be your partner when you want to have ice-cream as it is a protein-rich dairy option with fewer carbohydrates compared to regular yogurt. And also helps in controlling hunger and promotes satiety (hunger pangs). According to a scientific study in which 10,000 people participated, it was found that daily serving of yogurt led to 18% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. [1]

  1. Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds are rich sources of healthy fats and fiber for a diabetic diet. They help to provide maintained energy and manage blood sugar levels. [2]
Nuts and Seeds

  • Almonds: Almonds have positive effects for diabetes management and also a rich source of Vitamin E, magnesium and other nutrients.
  • Walnuts:  Walnuts fulfills the requirements of healthy fats and protein which makes them a good addition in diabetic diet.
  • Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds provides dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and helps to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and increases insulin sensitivity.   
  1. Spices and Herbs: Some of Indian spices have been shown to have potential benefits for managing blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity.
Spices and Herbs

  • Turmeric: Cucummin present in Turmeric helps to reduce inflammation and swelling and may also contribute to better insulin sensitivity and glycemic control.
  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon has the compounds that can mimic the effects of insulin, hence helps in improving insulin sensitivity and control blood sugar levels. Read our post on health benefits of cinnamon for more details.
  • Fenugreek:  Fenugreek seeds help to reduce the blood sugar levels by slowing down the carbohydrate absorption. Check out our post on health benefits of Fenugreek for more information.
  1. Lean Protein: Lean protein helps in building and repairing tissues without causing significant spikes in blood sugar. 
Lean Protein

  • Skinless Poultry: Skinless Poultry such as chicken etc are rich in protein and have minimal impact on blood sugar, which helps to prevent rapid spikes and crashes.
  • Fish:  Consuming fish on a daily basis helps to improve lipid profiles and cardiovascular health as well.
  • Tofu: Those who are vegetarians can consume tofu to fulfill the value of protein and nutrients. 

10.  Healthy Fats: These are the sources of monounsaturated fats (a type of dietary fats) that helps to support heart health and help to manage blood sugar levels. 

healthy fats

  • Avocado:  Avocado is packed with nutrients and also contains fiber and potassium helping to control complications related to diabetes.[3]
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil has minimal impact on sugar levels hence beneficial to regulate blood sugar levels.

Also Read: 12 Ayurvedic Home Remedies for Blood Sugar Control

10 Foods to avoid if you have Diabetes

Foods to avoid if you are a Diabetic
  1. Sweetened Beverages: Sugar drinks like soda, sweetened juices, teas, or cold drinks should be avoided as they can spike the blood sugar level.
  2. Processed Snacks: Packed and processed snacks such as chips, and cookies are often high in refined carbohydrates and are certainly unhealthy fats that should be avoided by diabetics. 
  3. White rice and Refined Flours: White rice and refined flours can cause quick rise in the blood sugar levels, as they are high in glycemic index.
  4. High-Sugar Fruits: Fruits that are naturally high in sugar such as mangoes, grapes and ripe bananas can be a reason for your sudden spike in blood sugar levels if consumed excessively.  
  5. Deep-fried foods: Foods that are deep-fried should be avoided by diabetes as they not only contribute to weight gain but also insulin-resistance and inflammation. 
  6. Desserts: Desserts that are sweetened with sugar should be avoided at all costs. They not only are high in sugar but also are unhealthy fats which leads to spiked sugar levels. So if you are missing your gulab-jamun or any other desserts try to substitute them with some healthier options. 
  7. Full-fat dairy products: People with diabetes should opt for full skimmed dairy products as full-fat dairy can be high in saturated fats and lead to risk of heart-disease. 
  8. White Bread: Excessive consumption of anything is bad for health, same as for diabetics with white bread, so it is very important to control eating white bread or anything made with refined flour, as they lack nutrition and fiber and may lead to high blood sugar.
  9. Sauces and condiments: Sauces and condiments such as ketchup, chutneys or sauces do have the hidden sugar in them which can be a reason for high sugar meal unknowingly hence their consumption should be avoided. 
  10. Processed & Salty Foods: Processed and salty foods are high in sodium and contribute to high blood pressure and cardiovascular issues, which can indirectly trouble your diabetes. 

Creating a well-balanced diabetic diet can be easy if you keep the above mentioned foods for diabetics in mind. You just need to add nutrient-dense foods that are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates and fats which can help you to promote a stable blood sugar level and overall health. 

Incorporating best foods to eat if you have diabetes such as whole grains, lean proteins, low-GI foods, and fiber-rich vegetables, can help you manage your diabetes effectively. But avoiding processed foods, and high sugar desserts and beverages is equally important. 

One can also opt for Ayurvedic herbs or medicines to manage their blood sugar levels effectively. Herbs such as Neem, Amla, Gudmara etc. works magically for the management of diabetes and can easily be involved in their diet through various ayurvedic formulations and medicines. 

See Aadved Ayush 82 developed by CCRAS and approved by Ministry of Ayush, an ayurvedic formulation for diabetes management

It is important to consult a registered dietitian to customize your diet plan according to your individual needs and preferences to be careful. Just with a mindful approach to your diet can transform your diabetes journey into a healthier and more fulfilling one with just a few little changes.

Also Read:

Himalayan Shilajit: The Ayurvedic Superfood

The Most Powerful Ayurvedic Herbs & Their Health Benefits