Legumes, including beans, chickpeas, and lentils, are an excellent addition to a diabetic diet. Legumes are rich in fiber, low in fat and low in carbohydrates, and can be a great supplement to soups, salads and casseroles. The fiber in legumes helps stabilize and slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream, reducing blood sugar spikes.
Leafy greens are a perfect side dish for any diabetic because they’re low carbohydrate food. However, studies show that leafy greens can benefit diabetics in another way. Leafy green vegetables are an excellent source of lutein, a nutrient that is beneficial to eye health. Since diabetics are at risk for developing eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, ocular hypertension and macular degeneration, it’s important for people with diabetes to take proper care of their eyes. Try adding a leafy green salad to your dinner, or substitute a side dish with cooked spinach or collard greens.
Most diabetics tend to avoid chocolate because of its high sugar content, however, studies show that small amounts of dark chocolate can help regulate insulin levels. The high concentration of cacao can help improve the body’s insulin sensitivity, and can also help lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Eat a square or two of dark chocolate after dinner as a sweet treat, but keep the portions modest and stay away from milk chocolate and white chocolate which are high in fat and sugar but low in cacao.
Vinegar, when taken before a meal, can help lower the body’s blood glucose levels. Studies showed that diabetics that consumed two tablespoons of vinegar before eating had 25% lower blood sugar levels than those who did not consume vinegar before eating. Pre-diabetics or those at risk for diabetes who consumed vinegar before meals showed a 50% reduction in blood sugar levels. Down two tablespoons of vinegar before eating, or try having a salad with a generous amount of vinegar as a dressing as an appetizer.
Chickpeas, the primary ingredient in hummus can help stabilize the absorption of glucose from starches. It’s also high in fiber and protein but low in carbohydrates, making it a great snack for diabetes control. Additionally, healthy fats from olive oil and tahini can help slow the absorption of glucose even more and also work to protect heart health. Try dipping veggies like carrots and celery sticks in a cup of hummus next time the urge to snack strikes.
Chia seeds, one of nature’s most beneficial foods, are an excellent source of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds have been shown to actually lower blood sugar when consumed, and can also help to reduce belly fat – the type of fat that contributes to the resistance of insulin. Chia seeds are exceptionally versatile, and can be made into flour, jams, and shakes, or sprinkled onto salads. You can also use chia seeds to make a crispy crust for seared salmon, another food that is highly beneficial for a type 2 diet.
Quinoa is known as a “super grain,” and offers all of the amino acids that are essential for the body to build protein molecules. Additionally, quinoa is a low glycemic food and has almost no impact on blood sugar levels. Try swapping pasta or white rice for quinoa in some of the recipes you already use in order to boost nutrition and reduce blood sugar spikes after eating.