The Best Food for Diabetics to Eat

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Diabetics should eat foods low in saturated and trans fats, added sugars, cholesterol and sodium. The best food choices for diabetics are vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, nonfat dairy, lean meats, poultry, fish and beans, according to the American Diabetes Association. These foods help diabetics control blood sugar and lose weight, which makes blood-sugar management easier. Before changing your diet speak to your doctor about your individual needs.

Bowl of mixed olives with rosemary
Bowl of mixed olives with rosemary (Image: Cristina_Arpentina/iStock/Getty Images)

Complex Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates have the biggest effect on blood sugar, so diabetics need to be especially careful when choosing carbs. The best types of carbs for blood sugar control are low-glycemic, complex carbohydrates such as whole-grains, nonstarchy vegetables, beans, peas and lentils and nonfat dairy, according to MayoClinic.org. These types of carbs take longer for the body to break down and they will not cause the dramatic surge in blood sugar that simple carbs from cakes, cookies, candy and sugary beverages do.

Close-up of cooked legumes in a bowl
Close-up of cooked legumes in a bowl (Image: studiocascella/iStock/Getty Images)

Heart-Healthy Fish

Fish are abundant sources of polyunsaturated fats and good alternatives to fatty meats. Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel are especially good sources of omega-3 fatty acids that help lower triglycerides. MayoClinic.org states that diabetics should eat fish at least twice a week. Bake, steam or grill your fish for the healthiest dish and avoid fried fish and high-mercury varieties such as tilefish, swordfish and king mackerel.

Two pieces of raw salmon on plate in kitchen
Two pieces of raw salmon on plate in kitchen (Image: tycoon751/iStock/Getty Images)

Healthy Fats

Unlike saturated fats from animal foods which raise cholesterol, poly- and monounsaturated fats from plant foods help lower cholesterol levels. Diabetics are at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, so it's important to include sources of these healthy fats in the diet. The best sources are olives, avocado, walnuts, almonds, pecans, and olive, canola and peanut oil, notes MayoClinic.org. Just be sure to keep your portion sizes small, because these foods are high in calories.

Salad with chopped avocado
Salad with chopped avocado (Image: Anna_Shepulova/iStock/Getty Images)

Best Beverages

What you drink with your meal has a big influence on your blood sugar control and your weight. Diabetics should choose water, unsweetened teas and coffee, diet sodas and other low or no-calorie drinks and drink mixes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Alcohol can be consumed in moderation, which is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. One drink is equal to five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of spirits. The best alcoholic beverage choices for diabetics are light beers, wine spritzers and spirits combined with calorie-free mixers like club soda, advises the American Diabetes Association.

Glass of unsweetened iced tea
Glass of unsweetened iced tea (Image: pilipphoto/iStock/Getty Images)

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