Type 2 Diabetes Food List – Overview
Type 2 diabetes, typically resulting from resistance to insulin and relative insulin deficiency has emerged as a major health problem worldwide.
Drug therapy, proper exercise and healthy nutrition are equally important components for the management of this condition. Here we will focus on the latter.
Choosing a proper meal plan for type 2 diabetics is often challenging.
Apart from blood glucose control, one needs to pursue other objectives such as losing weight and preventing cardiovascular diseases. Finding products that meet all these requirements is sometimes hard.
In the list below you can find some unique options that will help you to diversify your diet, as well as common food items to see how compatible they are with type 2 diabetes.
There is no better way to start our list than vegetables. Nearly all of them are very low in carbohydrates, rich in fibers and vitamins.
1. Spinach – 23 calories per 100 grams.
It is high in fiber, folate, calcium and iron. Like other leafy greens, spinach is nutritious and low in calories. It will slow down the absorption of carbohydrates consumed from other sources.
2. Kale – 28 calories per 100 gram
This member of the cabbage family is an excellent source of vitamin C ( 4 times as much as spinach) and is loaded with substances called antioxidants, which help to reduce damage by free radicals.
3. Broccoli – 35 calories per 100 gram
Compared to other vegetables they are relatively rich in protein and like other vegetables provide a decent amount of dietary fiber. It can be consumed raw or cooked. Some studies show that steaming is the best way the retention of precious nutrients like vitamin C and proteins.
4. Cauliflower – 23 calories per 100 gram
Offers the same benefits as broccoli and cabbage. This non-starchy vegetable contains a decent amount of potassium, vitamin C, and folate.
5. Asparagus – 22 calories per 100 grams.
It is an exotic vegetable mainly grown and used in Asia but found in stores in many countries across the world. It shares the benefits of other plants listed above and has been shown to improve insulin secretion and β-cell function in animal studies. The cons of this product are its high price.
6. Onions – 1 medium-sized onion contains just 41 calories
Apart from having a reputation for making us cry, onions can replenish our store of vitamins C, B-6 and manganese. Some evidence supports their protective effects against some types of cancers.
7. Cucumber – 1 medium-sized cucumber – 30 calories
They are extremely low in calories and contain more than 95% water. They can help us stay hydrated and receive dietary fiber.
8. Garlic – 4 calories per clove.
One clove of garlic weighs 3 grams on average and contains 2% of the daily value of manganese, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Research has shown that garlic can help in the regulation of glucose and cholesterol levels.
9. Celery – 16 calories per 100 grams.
It mainly consists of water and contains vitamins A, C and K. Apigenin is a molecule found in celery. It has anti-inflammatory properties and its beneficial effects include improvement of hyperglycemia and hypercholesterolemia.
10. Cabbage – 25 calories per 100 grams.
It shares the same benefits as spinach and kale. Cabbage can be used as an ingredient in almost all salads and soups. It is known to aid in the regulation of blood sugar levels.
Since sweets are mostly under restriction for diabetics, fruits are arguably the best part of the diet to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Some fruits contain less amount of carbohydrates than vegetables.
1. Avocados – 160 calories per 100 gram.
This nutrient-dense fruit ( not a vegetable) is one of few of its kind that contains healthy, unsaturated fats. They are very low in sugar and hence, cause only mild increases in blood glucose levels.
According to results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) “Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults”.
Apart from that, avocation B found in these fruits has been shown to reduce insulin resistance in mice.
2. Strawberries – 32 calories per 100 grams.
We all love red, juicy, sweet strawberries, but what we might not know is that out of all berries they contain the least sugar and are perfectly suitable for a diabetic diet.
They contain anthocyanins, which are antioxidants.
These molecules give strawberries a bright red color and at the same time reduce cardiovascular risk factors and have beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity.
3. Kiwi – 61 calories per 100 grams.
Their fuzzy brown peel might not look so delicious, but inside the delicious green fruit, we can find plenty of vitamin C and potassium. Their glycemic index is low.
4. Green apples – 52 calories per 100 grams. there are a lot of sorts of this fruit, but green apples seem to be the best choice for diabetics.
They are lower in sugar and provide a good source of fiber and vitamin C. Keep in mind that most of the antioxidants are found in apple peel. You can find more about the effects of apples on diabetes here.
5. Tomatoes – 18 calories per 100 grams.
There are lots of misconceptions about them. First of all, they are fruits, not vegetables. And some people also consider they have “too much sugar” which in fact, is not true.
Due to their low glycemic index and poor carb content, they seem to be a perfectly suitable option for a diabetic diet.
6. Plums – 46 calories per 100 grams.
Vitamin A, K, B2, B3, B6, potassium, sorbitol, antioxidants – this is an incomplete list of molecules found in plums.
Apart from their effectiveness in relieving constipation, they can help diabetics to better control blood sugar: they have the potential to raise the levels of the hormone called adiponectin, which regulates blood sugar.
7. Apricots – 48 calories per 100 gram.
With a glycemic index of around 35, they fall into low GI products. You can try both fresh and dried apricots. They are a decent source of vitamin A, as well as vitamin C, copper, manganese, and potassium.
8. Grapefruit – 42 calories per 100 grams.
We can say that grapefruit is almost entirely packed with nutrients, minerals and vitamins. In its composition, we will find fiber, vitamins B, C, D, PP, A calcium and potassium, manganese, a set of organic acids and essential oils. And GI is very low at -25.
9. Pineapple – 50 calories per 100 gram
Pineapple contains generous amounts of vitamin C and other beneficial nutrients. In the core of the pineapple is found a special proteolytic enzyme called – Bromelain, which promotes weight loss and has significant anti-inflammatory properties. This fruit belongs to the medium GI fruit category with a Glycemic index of 66.
1. Cottage cheese – 98 calories per 100 gram
This product contains about 4 times more protein than carbs, hence it is a great snack for diabetics. Both regular-fat and low-fat options are suitable.
Those who do not like it plain, can always combine it with various fruits and make a perfect breakfast to start the day. Due to its high protein content, it can have blood sugar-lowering effects
2. Yoghurt – 63 calories per 100 grams.
Low-fat or fat-free plain or Greek yogurt is a great choice for diabetics. It can contain as low as 7 grams of carbohydrates per 100g and is quite high in proteins, thus it is a common choice for people who try to lose weight.
In addition, a huge study performed between 1980 and 2010, involving over 100,000 people showed that “Higher intake of yogurt is associated with a reduced risk of T2D, whereas other dairy foods and consumption of total dairy are not appreciably associated with the incidence of T2D”.
3. Naturally low-sodium cheese – 398 calories per 100 gram
Cheese is rich in protein and contains little or no carbohydrates. On the other hand, it is high in fat and calories and the amount consumed should be taken into consideration.
Many diabetics suffer from hypertension as well., so another thing to keep in mind is sodium levels in cheese. For E.g feta cheese contains 1000 mg of sodium per 100g, in contrast to 16 mg in mozzarella.
Other low-sodium options include swiss cheese, goat cheese, brick cheese, and ricotta.
4. Goat milk – 69 calories per 100 grams.
Cow milk is a perfectly safe product for diabetics and can serve as a healthy source of fat and proteins. The same is true for goat milk, but it also offers several additional benefits, including lower carbohydrate content. According to studies, it is also richer in omega fatty acids and other nutrients.
Always check labels for added sugars in dairy products, especially in yogurts.
Meat, eggs, and seafood
Almost all meats contain zero carbohydrates and plenty of proteins. The main thing to look for is healthy fats.
The way of cooking and added ingredients have a significant effect on whether or not the final product will be suitable for a diabetic diet.
In general eating even low levels of red meat like pork, lamb and beef may increase the risk of diabetes, studies suggest. But there are some healthful meat options as well.
1. Very lean meat
According to the National Institute of Health only turkey and chicken breast count as very lean meats. They contain 1 gram of fat and up to 35 calories per serving.
2. Lean meat
Some but not all beef cuts, lean pork, veal, duck and goose fall into this category. Lean meat should contain no more than 3 grams of fat and 55 calories. Lean and very lean meat is a desirable source of protein for diabetics.
3. Medium fat meat
Pork chops, veal cutlets, roasted lamb, chuck steak, and T-bone steak, domestic duck or goose liver, heart, kidney are medium-fat meats and should be consumed in moderation.
4. Eggs – 1 large egg is 72 calories.
Eggs are full of nutrients and offer several health benefits. Studies have shown their effectiveness in cholesterol management ( they increase HDL/”good cholesterol”) and blood glucose control.
Restricting carbohydrates at breakfast and substituting them with egg omelets might be beneficial according to this research. Keep in mind that both yolk and white contain essential nutrients, make sure to eat both.
5. Salmon – 206 calories per 100 grams. and 6) Tuna -130 calories per 100 grams.
Fatty fish are in general, one of the healthiest products one can consume. These are excellent sources of protein and omega fatty acids that help to reduce inflammation. In general, You can prepare a salmon or tuna salad and mix them with other healthy nutrients.
7. Lobster – 143 calories per 100 grams.
Eating lobster requires work and effort, thus it is hard to overindulge and controlling food portions is easier.
In general, sea products are very low in carbs and do not contain unhealthy fat and are safe to eat for diabetics. The same is true for clams, crabs, mussels, oysters and shrimp
1. Bulgur wheat – 83 calories per 100 grams.
This ancient grain is the main ingredient in many Mediterranean dishes. It is made from wheat kernels and can be used in soups, as well in bakeries.
Apart from weight management and reduced cardiovascular risks, improved blood glucose management is among its health benefits. This may be attributed to its high fiber content or other nutrients found in bulgur wheat.
2. Barley, Farro, Quinoa – These are amongst the earliest crops cultivated by mankind. Whole barley is more nutritious than “pearl barley” and offers micronutrients like magnesium, potassium and zinc.
All three are extremely rich in fiber and therefore beneficial to diabetics.
3. Whole grain and whole wheat bread
As the name suggests they both contain fully intact grains. They are absorbed slowly and therefore cause smaller spikes in blood glucose levels.
4. Oatmeal – 71 calories per 100 grams.
It is a common breakfast meal. Oatmeal can help to regulate blood sugar and feel full longer. It has a low GI and high fiber content as do other whole grains. You should check labels for added sugars while shopping.
Dressings, spreads and oils
1. Peanut butter – 588 calories per 100 grams.
We have already discussed peanut butter in terms of a diabetic diet. Its high fiber content reduces the absorption of carbohydrates from other sources and can reduce blood sugar spikes when consumed with food containing high sugar levels.
The main drawback is its high calorie.
2. Almond butter – 614 calories per 100 gram can be a suitable option
for people who are allergic to peanuts.
3. Olive oil – 119 calories per tablespoon
Oleic acid found in olive oil has been shown to reduce triglyceride levels and improve glycemic management. It is an extremely beneficial product for our cardiovascular system.
Other molecules in olive oil – Polyphenols act as antioxidants, reduce inflammation and keep our blood vessels intact.
Just make sure that the product you buy is pure olive oil, sometimes it is mixed with cheaper soy or corn oils.
4. Vinegar – 3 calories per tablespoon.
Some studies have shown that consumption of small amounts of apple cider vinegar can benefit your postprandial glucose levels. Furthermore, another study suggests it can reduce blood sugar spikes caused by other consumed carbs by up to 20%.
Snacks and desserts
1. Popcorn – 557 calories per 100 grams.
We have already discussed popcorn in the scope of diabetes before. Consuming moderate amounts of homemade popcorn ( not premade or sweetened ) is safe for diabetics.
2. Nuts – (Almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, pecans)
They are nutritious and delicious, but very high in calories. A wide variety of studies have already demonstrated their anti-inflammatory and blood-sugar-lowering actions. So there is no doubt that nuts can be a healthy snack for a balanced diet.
Be cautious with hazelnuts, they are champions when it comes to calorie count consisting of 183 calories per only 1 nut, having more than 5 a day may not be a good idea since it can make you gain extra pounds which we don’t need in diabetes.
3. Fruit popsicles – with no added sugar
4. Chia seeds – 486 calories per 100 gram
Did you know that chia means “strength” in ancient Mayan? They do look tiny but they are one of the most nutritious foods in the world.
Chia seeds are known for their energy-boosting properties, besides being full of fiber and healthy fats, protein and various antioxidants, they are even backed up by animal and human research stating evidence that they can raise insulin sensitivity and stabilize blood sugar levels after meals.
Therefore, starting a day with chia pudding is defiantly a great idea for diabetics.
5. Sugar-free gelatin containing desserts
7. Sesame seeds – 565 calories per 100 gram
Despite being quite rich in calories, its composition is something everyone can benefit from especially those with diabetes, it’s a rich source of protein – a building block for all tissues, low in carbs, 60% of its carbohydrates are in form of fiber, which slows down the absorption of sugar, according to researches sesame seeds are known to reduce levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
Besides all these seeds contains pinoresinol- a type of polyphenol which lowers blood sugar levels by inhibiting maltase – an enzyme responsible for sugar breakdown. All these make it a perfect snack for diabetics.