If you have diabetes or prediabetes, you’re one of more than 100 million U.S. adults with this serious condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of diabetes include fatigue, increased thirst, irritability, and blurred vision.
However, one of the most immediate symptoms of this disease is feeling constantly hungry and having to control your blood sugar levels, which makes it hard to know what you should eat and when. For that very reason, we’ve come up with a list of nutrient-dense foods that can help balance glucose levels and keep you healthy.
Adding more of this fragrant spice can help reduce cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels. As little cinnamon as one-quarter of a teaspoon each day is enough to improve levels of glucose and cholesterol in the blood. You can sprinkle cinnamon into yogurt, oatmeal, or even use it with a cup of coffee, but try to avoid sugar-packed cinnamon buns.
In a study published in Science Daily, researchers found that adding walnuts to your everyday diet promoted better gut bacteria and, in addition, lowered some risk for heart disease. They also help to maintain blood sugar levels as they have a high fat and protein content while containing few carbohydrates. Other nuts with similar benefits include pistachios, almonds, and pecans.
Eating Oatmeal is recommended for everyone, but diabetics, in particular, should add this food to their diet as the soluble fiber contained within breaks down into carbs more slowly and helps maintain even blood glucose levels. However, highly processed and instant or quick oatmeal can give you a bigger insulin response, so it’s best to stick to old fashioned rolled oats, or steel-cut ones if you have the time to cook them.
Besides being a great source of vitamin D and calcium and promoting healthy bones, dairy is a good source of protein and helps stave off hunger for longer. Yogurt, cheese, and milk can all help maintain blood sugar levels in diabetics. Research from the Harvard School of Public Health also suggests that trans-palmitoleic acid, a natural compound in dairy fat, can also greatly reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
Packed with protein and fiber, beans both nourish you and keep you feeling full. They’re a healthy addition to any diet, really, and best of all affordable and able to fit in almost any dish. If you want variety from beans, try out garbanzo, black, or pinto beans as a side or in soups and vegetarian stews.
Vegetables like kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli all have an anti-inflammatory substance called sulforaphane which keeps blood sugar in check while giving your body lots of micronutrients. These cruciferous foods also have few calories, so you don’t need to worry about filling your plate.
If you want an excellent substitute for pasta, look no further than quinoa. This whole-grain loaded with proteins, fiber, and various nutrients get digested and absorbed slowly making it ideal for controlling blood sugar. More importantly, quinoa contains all nine of the essential amino acids which means it’s a complete protein.
Leafy green spinach is a great source of magnesium -a nutrient that aids your body in the use of insulin – but it also has lots of vitamin K and folate. Spinach can be eaten both raw and cooked in a wide variety of dishes such as salads, smoothies, or by adding it to sides and soups. It also only has 14 calories and 2 grams of carbs per 2-cup serving.
Olive oil is a staple in the acclaimed Mediterranean diet and does wonder for diabetes. This is due to its high content of MUFA or monounsaturated fatty acids which help the body manage glucose levels in the blood and lower resistance to insulin. Don’t hesitate to use extra virgin olive oil regularly because of its fat content because that’s exactly what keeps you feeling full for longer and helps you absorb things like vitamin E and A.
Eating fatty fish like salmon will not only give you lots of healthy protein but omega-3 fatty acids as well, which are known to be good for the heart by lowering levels of cholesterol. The same goes for fish such as sardines, mackerel, and tuna, so it’s important to add them to your diet, not just as a diabetic, but even if you’re completely healthy.
- “New CDC report: More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes,” CDC, 18 July, 2017,
- “Diabetes,” Mayo Clinic,
- “Walnuts may be good for the gut and help promote heart health,” ScienceDaily, 16 January, 2020,
- “Therapeutic effects of soluble dietary fiber consumption on type 2 diabetes mellitus,” PMC, 20 May, 2016,