Getting the Right Diabetes Treatment

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11 Superfoods for Diabetes

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Jennifer Larson on January 16, 2021

Certain foods pack a substantial nutritional wallop while also working well within the eating guidelines that people with type 2 diabetes should follow. Turn to these all-star superfoods when choosing how to fill your plate.

  • Grapefruit
    Citrus Fruit
    Oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes all pack a serious amount of vitamin C. But beyond that, citrus fruits provide soluble fiber. And they smell so good.
  • Yogurt with fresh blueberry
    Yogurt
    There's a good chance you're not getting enough calcium on a daily basis. Low-fat dairy is a great source of calcium, which will help build strong bones, teeth and muscles, as well as potassium and vitamin D.
  • White kidney beans in a brown pot macro and bread
    Beans
    A half-cup of beans will give you one-third of your daily recommended allowance of fiber. Beans like lentils and chickpeas are low on the glycemic index scale, too, which means they are less likely to send your blood glucose levels soaring.
  • close up of almonds
    Nuts
    Give up the chips and crackers, and feast on nuts instead. They'll provide protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fat, which is good for your heart. Nuts tend to be high in calories, so watch your portion size.
  • Kale in a bowl
    Kale
    Kale, spinach, collard greens and other dark green leafy vegetables should make regular appearances in your diet. They're low-carb, low-cal, high in antioxidants, and they're just crying out for space on your plate. Plus, kale provides a tremendous amount of vitamin K, which helps keep your bones healthy.
  • Full Frame Shot Of Raspberries
    Berries
    Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries—they're all delicious and good for you, with lots of fiber and antioxidants that provide protection for your cells against damage from free radicals.
  • salmon dish
    Salmon
    Are you eating six to nine ounces of fish each week? Aim for salmon and other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as sardines, mackerel or albacore tuna. Omega-3 fatty acids can help protect your heart and your arteries, and some research indicates they can also help prevent the development of certain types of dementia.
  • Sweet potato
    Sweet Potatoes
    Vitamin C, potassium, beta carotene—what's not to love about this root vegetable? Plus, one serving will provide about 400 percent of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin A—all for about 90 calories. Keep the skin on for extra soluble fiber.
  • bread-with-wheat
    Whole Grains
    White bread has a relatively high glycemic index score—about 70—so you're better off opting for whole grain breads. According to the American Diabetes Association, the germ and the bran of the whole grain aren't available in products made with processed grains. By choosing the whole grain bread, you're also getting magnesium, chromium and folate. Put whole grain pastas, pearled barley and oatmeal on your shopping list, too.
  • woman reaching for tomato at farmers market
    Tomatoes
    Whether you prefer slices of fresh raw tomato or a hot fragrant tomato sauce, you're making a good choice. Tomatoes are full of vitamins A and E, as well as lycopene, a powerful antioxidant and the carotenoid that gives this fruit its rich color.
  • Eggs
    Eggs
    Eggs have come in and out of favor over the years, but we now know that eggs are a great source of protein with little saturated fat. 
  • bottles of olive oil
    Bonus: Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    There are two kinds of fat: the "good" fat includes polyunsaturated fat, omega 3 fatty acid and monounsaturated fat that can help lower your LDL cholesterol. And the "bad" fat that includes saturated and trans fats. Olive oil falls into the "healthy" category. Look for ways to replace saturated fat like margarine with olive oil. 
  • smiling woman eating food in kitchen
    You are what you eat.
    Follow an easy-to-remember mantra from the American Diabetes Association—"create my plate." First, divide your plate in half. Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, then divide the remaining half between grains and starches and proteins. Choosing these diabetes superfoods when creating your plate will keep you on the right track.
11 Superfoods for Diabetes

About The Author

Jennifer Larson has more than 15 years of professional writing experience with a specialization in healthcare. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and memberships in the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Education Writers Association.
  1. Jenkins D. Effect of Legumes as Part of a Low Glycemic Index Diet on Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2012;172(21):1653-60. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1384247
  2. Nutrition Recommendations and Interventions for Diabetes: A position statement of the American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Care (http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/31/Supplement_1/S61
  3. White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes, Cleveland Clinic. http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2013/03/white-potatoes-vs-sweet-potatoes-which-is-healthier/
  4. Calcium: Fact Sheet for Consumers, National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-Consumer/
  5. Create Your Plate, American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/create-your-plate/?loc=ff-slabnav
  6. Diabetes Superfoods, American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/making-healthy-food-choices/diabetes-su...
  7. Fats, American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/making-healthy-food-choices/fats-and-di...
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jan 16
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