While many organizations have their own list of “super foods” for people with diabetes, I use the one from the American Diabetes Association. Please comment and let us know what super foods you would recommend that are not on the list. Let us know if this list has been helpful for you.
In general, fresh vegetables, whole grains, fresh fruit and lean meats have been found to be beneficial for people with diabetes. Also, as advised with any other foods, please watch portion size, count your carbohydrates, and make sure these foods fit in with your diet plan. The American Diabetes Association recommends foods rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C and E. Other organizations use different criteria and may recommend other “super foods.” The list that follows pertains to the American Diabetes Association’s general recommendations. Please consult with your health care provider prior to changing your diet as some of these foods may be harmful to individuals with other health problems. The foods recommended are:
1) Beans, such as navy, pinto, or black. While these are starchy vegetables, they are a good source of protein and serving size is about ½ cup. However, canned beans (like other canned vegetables) will be high in Sodium, so keep this in mind if you are on a Sodium-restricted diet. Rinsing the beans and discarding the liquid they are canned in will eliminate some of the extra Sodium. They are also a good source of potassium. If you have a kidney problem or are on certain medications, you may need to watch your potassium. If a low potassium diet was prescribed for you, please follow your health care providers’ recommendations.
2) Dark leafy vegetables, as well as broccoli, are excellent sources of vitamins and fiber, and they are free of carbohydrates. However, some people, e.g. those taking the medication Coumadin are not permitted to have these foods.
3) Fresh citrus fruit, such as oranges and grapefruit, are great sources of vitamin C and fiber. However, these fruits contain natural sugars, so to keep your carbohydrate intake low, control your portion size when adding citrus and other fruits to your diet. In addition, grapefruit reacts negatively to certain medications, so please confirm with your health care provider that you can eat grapefruit prior to doing so.
4) Sweet potatoes have more fiber and vitamin A than regular potatoes. See our prior post about potatoes. They are also rich in potassium. Again, consult with your health care provider with regard to potential potassium intake limits.
5) Berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, are rich in antioxidants. Because they are also a source of carbohydrates, please watch your portion size.
6) Tomatoes, eaten in appropriate amounts (check with your health care provider), are a good source of vitamin C, iron and vitamin E.
7) Fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and halibut are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Not all fish are high in Omega-3s, so check the nutrition labels if available. If the fish is fried and/or breaded, it will become a source of saturated fat and you will lose the benefit from eating it.
8) Whole grains, which include the germ and bran are excellent sources of vitamins and Omega-3s. When the grains are processed into wheat flour, the benefits are lost.
9) Nuts are a good source of fiber and magnesium. Walnuts and flax seed also contain Omega-3 fatty acids. Please keep in mind they are Calorie-dense and some are high in cholesterol, so keep the portion sizes reasonable.
10) Fat-free milk and yogurt are good sources of calcium and vitamin D.
As stated, this list comes from the American Diabetes Association. Other organizations may offer different lists of their top ten foods. Picture a complete plate as containing ½ vegetables, ¼ whole grain products, and ¼ a lean protein source, such as baked or broiled chicken, fish, or meat.
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