8 Diabetes-Friendly Foods

Diabetes is an epidemic that is growing quickly. Since the 1980s, the number of people with diabetes around the world has more than tripled: there were 108 million people with diabetes in 1980 and by 2014, the number rose to 422 million. Diabetes is a chronic, debilitating, and sometimes fatal disease. Insulin, the hormone that manages glucose levels in the blood, is either not produced by the body or not effectively used. The resulting high blood sugar levels that people with diabetes experience can lead to organ, blood vessel, and nerve damage. People with diabetes can manage their disease and improve their health by eating these eight foods that are perfect for diabetics.

Seeds and Nuts

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Research has shown that nuts tend to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Nuts are an excellent food choice for diabetics because their unsaturated (good) fat, high fiber, and protein content stabilize blood sugar levels. All nuts are considered a healthy choice for diabetics, but some nuts have more health benefits than others. Tree nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts, may hold the most benefit for diabetics. Different nuts contain different vitamins and minerals, so mixing them up is a good way to bring balance to a diet. Be careful with salted nuts as excessive salt intake increases the risk of heart disease. Unsalted nuts, in comparison, lower cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart disease.

Healthy Oils And Fats

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A healthy, well-balanced diet includes healthy fats and oils. Good fats and oils provide energy and regulate cholesterol and metabolism. They also encourage the stabilization of blood sugar levels and keep people feeling full. However, not all oils and fats are healthy. Fats to avoid include trans fats, which increase the risk of disease even when eaten in small quantities. Trans fats are found in many processed foods and are also known as 'partially hydrogenated oil.'

Saturated fats are not as harmful as trans fats, but must still be consumed in moderation. Foods high in saturated fats include red meat, butter, ice cream, and cheese. The healthiest fats are unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), which lower the risk of disease. Oils high in healthy fats include sunflower, soy, corn, olive, coconut, flaxseed, pumpkin seed, and canola oil. Foods containing good fat include seeds, nuts, and fish.

Pomegranates

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Pomegranates are high in antioxidants. They also help reduce cholesterol and the risk of atherosclerosis (restriction of arteries due to the build-up of cholesterol and plaque). Pomegranate sugar does not seem to spike blood sugar levels, so diabetics can enjoy its sweetness without guilt (of course the diet should be balanced and pomegranates consumed in moderation). 

Pomegranates have numerous other essential health benefits including reducing the risk of cancer, particularly breast and prostate, reducing cholesterol levels, assisting in weight loss and maintenance, and fighting cellular damage. If you are taking medication, it is important to consult with your doctor about drug interactions as pomegranates can potentially interfere with medications similarly to grapefruit. Lastly, be careful eating pomegranates because, though delicious, they tend to stain your clothes.

Eggs

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Eggs are healthy for diabetics. The high protein content of eggs helps slow digestion, keeps people feeling full, and does not affect blood sugar levels. Eggs also contain essential nutrients, such as potassium, vitamin D, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, riboflavin, phosphorus, zinc, iron, copper, and the amino acid leucine. Egg whites contain more than half of an egg's protein, little fat, and no cholesterol. For this reason, people can eat as much of them as they want. Whole eggs or egg yolks, on the other hand, should not be consumed more than a few times per week as the cholesterol content is relatively high. This increases the risk of heart disease, especially for diabetics.

Fish

Fish is free of carbohydrates, so it does not cause a spike in blood sugar. Fish is also packed with protein, vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, magnesium, iodine, and potassium and is considered the best source of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, the nutrients found in fish reduce the risk of heart disease. Because of mercury levels in fish, experts recommend eating up to two meals per week that include it. 
Mercury is a toxin that is believed to impair blood sugar control, so it is best to limit the intake of fish that are high in mercury. Mercury-laden fish include the larger, predatorial types of fish, such as swordfish, marlin, tuna, Chilean sea bass, grouper, bluefish, halibut, sablefish (black cod), and Spanish mackerel (Gulf). Fish with lower mercury levels may include anchovies, canned light tuna, flounder, catfish, haddock, salmon, trout, whitefish, mackerel (some types), sardines, pollock, hake, herring, and butterfish.

Apples

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Eating apples at least twice per week can decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes by twenty-three percent. Apples are packed with flavonoids, antioxidants, and fiber. Apples are thought to reduce the risk not only of diabetes, but also cancer, heart disease and hypertension. The apple skin contains most of the antioxidants and fiber, so be sure to consume it. While some people worry about pesticides on the skin, some experts claim that laboratories only find minute levels of pesticide residue on apple skins. However, be cautious not to consume too many apple seeds as they contain the powerful poison cyanide, which can be fatal if too many are consumed.

Non-Starchy Vegetables

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Since diabetics are at risk of uncontrolled high blood sugar levels, a balanced diet is essential for managing this disease. Diabetics should consume foods that help lower blood sugar. Non-starchy vegetables help keep blood sugar levels stable, are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, and satisfy people's appetite. Diabetics can enjoy non-starchy vegetables in almost any amount because they contain very few calories and carbohydrates. 
Some tasty non-starchy vegetables that diabetics can start to incorporate into their diet include alfalfa sprouts, artichokes and artichoke hearts, asparagus, bean sprouts, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, tomatoes, and zucchini. Non-starchy vegetables, such as the ones on this list, are better for diabetes than starchy vegetables, which cause a spike in the blood sugar and creates cravings for sugary foods.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon contains methyl hydroxy chalcone polymer (MHCP), a substance that helps the body remove glucose. Taking only one to six grams of cinnamon every day can help reduce glucose levels by up to twenty-nine percent. Cinnamon also has numerous other health benefits. Regular intake of cinnamon is known to help lower cholesterol and thus reduce the risk of heart disease. Cinnamon also has antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic, and anti-inflammation effects, which help boost the immune system and protect against various diseases. Cinnamon is even thought to help boost brain function and defend against degenerative neural conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. 

Cinnamon can be particularly helpful for women during menstruation because of its anticoagulant and analgesic effects. Cinnamon can help reduce cramping and pain experienced during menstruation as well as help reduce the severity of blood flow. It is important to be careful not to overconsume cinnamon because its active ingredient, coumarin, can cause serious damage to your liver. Some experts recommend two to four grams of cinnamon powder per day.