One of the most popular eating styles for diabetes is the plate method. The concept is pretty simple. Start with a 9-inch plate for every meal. Fill half the plate with non-starchy vegetables, a quarter with lean proteins, and a quarter with foods high in carbohydrates.
Choosing the right carbohydrates to fill this final quarter of your plate can be tricky. All carbs are not equal, and some are much better at helping you maintain good glucose control.
Oatmeal has a lot of health benefits, including being heart-healthy and helping to lower cholesterol. But it is a good source of carbohydrates, too. Oatmeal contains a lot of fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar. One study showed that eating oatmeal only two days in a row resulted in a significant reduction of insulin requirements and a lower A1C four weeks later. To keep this food healthy, avoid adding refined sugar for flavor, and top it with a serving of fresh strawberries or bananas instead.
Unlike white rice, brown rice has layers of bran and nutrient-dense germ, making it the healthier choice. While it does contain a lot of carbs, it also has a lot of fiber, making it great for diabetes. One study showed that eating brown rice twice a day resulted in lower post-meal blood sugar and A1C. Eating brown rice and other whole grains also lowers the risk of developing diabetes in the first place.
Whole grain pasta is a good option for those with diabetes looking to fill that quarter of their plate with healthy carbs. Research continues to show that eating less-processed grains is beneficial for diabetes. Swapping whole grain pasta for regular pasta is a great way to incorporate a dinnertime staple without a post-meal blood sugar spike. Just be careful to watch the serving size.
Blueberries are a great carb choice for a diabetic diet and are loaded with vitamins and nutrients. They do contain some carbs, but they also have a good amount of fiber, which mitigates their effect on blood sugar. Studies show that blueberries may also have anti-diabetic characteristics, positively affecting glucose tolerance and insulin resistance.
A serving of grapes is a nutrient-packed choice for adding carbohydrates to your plate. Studies show that grapes have a low glycemic index and a low glycemic load, making them great for maintaining blood sugar.
Plus, dark-skinned varieties are packed with antioxidants that can help regulate insulin and glucose metabolism and relieve oxidative stress.
Some other fruits can decrease the risk of diabetes. Apples are a good choice because they are packed with vitamins and nutrients, and they also contain a lot of fiber, which offsets the number of carbs contained in this juicy fruit.
A half a cup of beans has about 20 carbs, but they are high in fiber and loaded with omega fatty acids, protein, and other nutrients that make them a good addition to a diabetic diet. Research shows that adding black beans to a high-fat diet improved insulin sensitivity in mice, and some studies show that they may have a combined beneficial effect when eaten with rice.
Watermelon is a sweet fruit that many people believe is off the table with a diabetic diet, but it's actually a good choice to add some carbs to your diet. True to its name, watermelon contains a lot of water, which may help you feel fuller. Plus, studies show that watermelon may have anti-diabetic effects; it lowers fasting blood glucose, as well as lipids and inflammation, in rats.
Although you may consider squash a starchy vegetable, it is a safe choice for diabetics looking to add healthy carbohydrates to their diet. Many types of squash will work, including butternut, pumpkin, spaghetti, and acorn.
Squash has a low glycemic index and load thanks to its high fiber content. It also contains some proteins and good fats that can help moderate appetite and blood sugar.
Many carbs can be safely incorporated into a diabetic diet, but there are also those that should be avoided. Essentially, stick with whole grains when possible and stay away from any that are finely ground.
Look for foods with a high fiber content as they slow the rate of digestion and don't have as many digestible carbs, leading to a more gradual and lower rise in blood sugar. While most fruits are okay if you watch serving size, avoid overripe fruits as they contain more sugar than less ripened ones.
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