When you live with diabetes it can be difficult to determine which foods are safe to eat, and which foods and snacks that you should steer clear of. This is especially true if you have just recently been diagnosed with the condition. If you are in a pre-diabetic state or your family has a history of diabetes, but you have not yet developed it, read our blog post about how to dodge the dangers of diabetes.
Fresh Snacks for Diabetics
Diabetics have to pay close attention to everything that they eat, whether it’s fresh or packaged but the best snacks for any diet are fresh and natural foods. Without nutrition labels that show how much sugar, or how many carbs, natural food has in it diabetics are left to determine which fresh foods are beneficial to them and which might spike their glucose levels to an unhealthy level.
Here are some of our favorite safe, fresh and natural snacks for diabetics to guide you in the right direction.
A report by The Harvard School of Public Health states that people who eat at least five apples per week have a 23 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, than those who do not eat apples. Eating four apples per day for four weeks also has the potential to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by 40 percent.
If you’re looking for a sweet treat with healthy nutrients look no further than a melon of your choice. Some studies show that watermelons, honeydew, and cantaloupes may protect against heart disease and a few cancers. They are also relatively high in vitamin A and vitamin C which promote good eye health.
The American Diabetes Association suggests that everyone, regardless of whether or not they have diabetes, should reduce their meat intake to help combat the risks associated with foods containing high amounts of cholesterol, and saturated fats. Soy products can be added to your meatless meals as a replacement for the protein source. It’s high protein and low caloric and fat content, makes it a healthy choice.
Many people associate quinoa with protein, but often for the wrong reason. People assume that quinoa is a good source of protein because of the amount of protein it contains, but relative to other options the amount is not impressive. What is unique about quinoa is that it contains all nine amino acids, which the body cannot make on it’s own. This makes it a complete protein, and that is what all the fuss is really about. Due to the complexity of the protein content combined with the descent fiber content
Fish is a lean protein source that is low in unhealthy saturated fats, and high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Blood pressure, and triglyceride levels decrease with the increase intake of fish high in omega-3’s like, salmon, sardines, halibut, herring, and albacore tuna. These protein choices make for a healthy addition to any diet, including a diabetic friendly diet.
Carrots do not contain many carbohydrates, so they are classified as a non starchy vegetable, although cooking them does add to the carb count. One serving of raw carrots, and a half of a serving of cooked carrots both contain about 5 grams of carbs. For those who have a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes eating foods high in beta-carotene, like carrots, can lower their risk of developing the condition.
Between steel-cut oats, old-fashioned oats, and quick-cooking oats (instant oatmeal), there’s a variety suitable for every taste preference. The fiber content in all oatmeal is responsible for its health benefits. It helps keep blood glucose levels stable to both prevent and manage diabetes. Watch out for added salts and sugars in instant oatmeal varieties (especially flavored options), as these additives will reduce the natural blood glucose stabilization associated with plain oatmeal.
Yellow and white onions don’t hold a candle to the nutritional benefits that you’ll find in a nice red onion. They are a great source of folate, and fiber, both of which are important nutrients for managing blood sugar levels. On top of that though, red onions also contain the flavonoid quercetin, which has been found to decrease the risk of developing chronic illnesses such as: asthma, heart disease, and certain cancers.
In 2012, The British Journal of Nutrition reported that asparagus may help to keep blood sugar levels low and increase insulin production. This may be due to the fact that they are naturally low in carbohydrates and contain glutathione. Glutathione is an antioxidant that may reduce the effects of many diseases including diabetes.
When tomatoes are cooked or processed, it is easier for your body to absorb the nutritional benefits that they offer. They are high in vitamin A and vitamin C and also contain lycopene. When these nutrients are combined they work together to reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Canned tomatoes can be high in sodium, so canning your own may be the healthiest alternative to achieve all of the benefits they have to offer.
It has recently been discovered that you can better regulate your blood sugar by simply eating a single cup of beans or other legumes daily. Foods that are good sources of fiber and protein, like beans, help to keep your blood sugar stable by providing your body with long burning energy sources.
Snacks for diabetics can get complicated, but nuts are nice and easy. Those living with type 2 diabetes can enjoy improved blood sugar control by snacking on almonds, cashews, mixed nuts, peanuts, pecans, hazelnuts, or pistachios. A 2011 study published in Diabetes Care showed that people with type 2 diabetes who regularly ate 2 ounces of mixed nuts had lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and lower blood glucose levels, than those who skipped the nuts.
There are many healthy benefits associated with drinking tea on a regular basis. One of which includes a decreased risk for developing diabetes. The antioxidants found in teas have been shown reduce cholesterol levels, increase blood flow, and even help to relax you and bring stress levels down. Brew your own tea to enjoy the full effect of these health benefits, as pre-bottled versions may contain unnecessary added sugars, and reduced nutrients.
Lycopene is a red carotene, that when combined with vitamin A and vitamin C help to reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Since red peppers are just green peppers that have been allowed to ripen on the vine for a longer period of time, they contain a greater concentration of vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are then combined with the red pigmentation to provide health benefits that protect against heart diseases, cancers, and diabetes.
Kale and spinach are leafy green vegetables that contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to reduce the risk associated with harmful free radicals that may affect eye health.
A few studies have shown that adding these leafy green vegetables to your diet can also reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes thanks to its rich nutrient content, ranging from vitamin A to zinc.
For people with type 2 diabetes, adding flaxseed to their diet is important because it could potentially lower hemoglobin A1C and help stabilize blood sugar levels within two to three months. When added to a diabetics diet, flaxseed has been shown to reduce fasting blood glucose levels, total cholesterol, and triglycerides.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who eat more monounsaturated fats, like avocados, have a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 25 percent. Any diet will benefit from replacing saturated fats with monounsaturated fats, but diabetics should pay special attention to their saturated fat intake.
High in phytonutrients like anthocyanins, cranberries are a great snack for diabetics. These nutrients have been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol while improving HDL (good) cholesterol. Fresh cranberries peak between October and December and carry the highest levels of these nutrients. Stock up in the fall and freeze your own batches to ensure you have enough to last you all year long.
Studies show that eating red grapefruit can help to improve HDL (good) cholesterol levels, and decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which helps improve heart health and blood pressure. They are also a good source of vitamin C and fiber, which helps the body to regulate and stabilize blood glucose levels, to prevent the dips and spikes associated with diabetes and pre diabetes.
According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2012, adding cheese or yogurt to your regular diet could help to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. Eating Greek yogurt, rather than traditional yogurt styles, may add even more health benefits as it’s higher in protein and will keep you satisfied longer. Adding your own fruits and nuts to yogurts make them the perfect healthy snacks for diabetics. Since you control the flavor profiles, you’ll be more likely to turn to yogurt when you’re looking for a sweet treat.
Whether you’re diabetic or not, adding more broccoli to your diet can only increase your health. It contains more vitamin C than an orange – when compared gram for gram, it’s got a ton of beta-carotene – that converts to vitamin A, and it even boasts glucosinolates – a sulfur containing compound that has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
If you haven’t guessed by now, fiber content plays a huge role in whether or not a food item is diabetic friendly. Due in part to the edible seeds of raspberries, they contain 7 grams of fiber per serving, which is high enough to make it on the healthy snack list. They also contain anthocyanins which not only gives them their juicy red coloring, but has also been shown to positively affect insulin resistance.
Anthocyanin is an antioxidant that is found in blueberries. It not only gives these delicious berries their blue color, but it has also been found to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, in those who ate two or more servings per week, by 23 percent. The high fiber content of blueberries may also play a role in maintaining safe and even blood glucose levels.
Apples, raw, with skin [includes USDA commodity food A343]. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1809/2
Asparagus, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2316/2
Avocados, raw, all commercial varieties. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1843/2
Beans, kidney, mature seeds, sprouted, raw. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2324/2
Blueberries, raw. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1851/2
Broccoli, raw. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2356/2
Carrots, raw [includes USDA commodity food A099]. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2383/2
Cereals, oats, regular and quick and instant, not fortified, dry [oatmeal, old-fashioned oats, rolled oats]. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/breakfast-cereals/1597/2
Cranberries, raw. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1875/2
Fish, salmon, chinook, raw. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4104/2
Grapefruit, raw, pink, and red, all areas. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1905/2
Kale, raw. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2461/2
Melons, cantaloupe, raw [includes USDA commodity food A415]. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1954/2
Nutrition Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/2053/2
Nuts nutrition facts and the health benefits of nuts. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/nuts_nutrition.html
Onions, raw. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2501/2
Peppers, sweet, red, raw. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2896/2
Raspberries, raw. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/2053/2
Seeds, flaxseed. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3163/2
Shopping List for Diabetics. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from https://www.pritikin.com/shopping-list-for-diabetics
Soybeans, mature cooked, boiled, without salt. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4376/2
Tea, brewed, prepared with tap water [black tea]. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beverages/3967/2
Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year round average [includes USDA commodity food A238, A233]. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2682/2
Top 25 Power Foods for Diabetes. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/food-to-eat/nutrition/top-25-power-foods-diabetes
What Can I Eat? (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/?referrer=https://www.google.com/
Yogurt, plain, skim milk, 13 grams protein per 8 ounce. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/106/2
Quinoa, cooked. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/10352/2
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