Here are 10 fruits and vegetables for diabetes that are ideal because they pack a slew of health benefits, while helping to regulate your blood sugar.
When eating fruits and vegetables, remember that fresh and raw is best whenever possible, although baking and steaming will also help retain nutrients. And if you think that fresh fruits and vegetables are mainly grown in the summer months, you might be surprised to know that there are several produce options that are available year-round in Canada.
Rich in anti-oxidants, which help prevent cell damage in the body, blueberries and other berries are a great addition to your diabetes diet. Blueberries in particular have been shown to boost the immune system and help fight off bad cholesterol. In a recent, large study, women who consumed high levels of antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, had a 27% reduction in their diabetes risk. Plus, berries are filled with nutrients and are low in sugar, so they are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without resorting to traditional sweets.
2. Citrus fruits:
We’ve all heard that citrus fruits are filled with vitamin C, but when it comes to the very sweet ones (e.g., oranges), you may worry about their high sugar content. Fortunately, the fibre in these fruits helps to promote satiety, and helps regulate your blood sugar by slowing absorption into the bloodstream. Some citrus fruits such as grapefruit may interact with medications you are taking, so it is important to talk to your pharmacist before adding citrus fruits into your diet.
Fall’s favorite fruit is filled with fibre (especially if you keep the peel on) and vitamin C. Apples also contain chemicals called anthocyanins, which have been shown boost insulin, and may be protective against diabetes and obesity.
Apples, like other fruits, are still a source of carbohydrate, so try to opt for a smaller sized apple (i.e., about the size of tennis ball) and be sure to include the carbohydrates in your meal plan.
Click here for a recipe for a delicious and healthy apple crisp!
These delectable, bite-sized fruits also contain anthocyanins, which help control blood sugar. They also contain a multitude of nutrients, including vitamins A, C and B, as well as calcium, iron and fibre. Besides being a great snack, cherries can be added to salads or muffin and pancake recipes for added flavour and nutrients.
5. Leafy greens:
Increasing your consumption of leafy greens (e.g., collard greens, kale and spinach) is another way to help keep your diabetes in check. Filled with minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, they help enhance insulin secretion and regulate your blood sugar levels. A study showed that eating a little more than a cup of these vegetables a day reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 14%. These greens also regulate the production of hormones that protect against heart attack and stroke. They’re super low in calories and carbohydrates too!
6. Sweet potato:
Rich in fibre and vitamins, sweet potatoes are another great vegetable to keep your blood sugar levels on track. They have a low glycemic index (GI), which means they won’t spike your blood sugar levels as much as regular potatoes would.
Find more info on low GI foods and why they are good for diabetes here.
Not only is broccoli low in calories, it’s filled with antioxidants and packed with high levels of vitamin A and C. This green vegetable is also full of fibre, which will keep you feeling full longer.
This is another vegetable that is a great addition to your diabetes meal plan because it’s filled with vitamins, minerals, fibre and has a low GI index. In fact, one serving of asparagus provides 18% of your daily vitamin C and E. It also contains a decent amount of protein (4-5 grams per cup), which helps stabilize your blood sugar levels and keeps you feeling full.
9. Red onion:
Aside from its antioxidant properties, the red onion is another low-GI, low-calorie food that won’t throw your blood sugar levels out of whack. It contains significant amounts of vitamins C and B6, as well as being a good source of chromium, which is essential to regulating blood sugar.
This mild-tasting, versatile vegetable is a great option when you have diabetes because it contains vitamin B, zinc and magnesium, which are key to stabilizing blood sugar levels. Zucchini also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are two phytonutrients that promote eye health.
Find tips on how to get more vegetables like zucchini into your daily meals here.
Just keep in mind that even with all their health benefits, most of these fruits and vegetables contain sugar, which may affect your carb count.
Find more here on how fruits and vegetables can affect your blood sugar targets.