Diabetic, Pre Diabetic Diets – Best and Worst Diabetic Foods

Diabetic Diet and Pre Diabetic Diet

According to CDC’s National Diabetes Statistics Reports from 2017, there are a total of 30.3 million people in the United States who have diabetes, which about 7.2 million of them have not been diagnosed yet. The same report also reveals that there are a total of 84.1 million adults age 18 or older in the United States who have pre diabetes.

Diabetes Mellitus is a very serious metabolic disorder that causes hyperglycemia (elevated blood glucose levels) due to either lack of insulin or insulin resistance. Insulin is produced by the pancreas, specifically the beta-cells of the pancreas. Insulin’s main job is to act as a key for glucose (sugar) to enter the cells to be metabolized.

Diabetes mellitus is categorized into two different types:

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus is typically diagnosed at a very young age and it is due to the pancreas inability to produce insulin.
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is one of the major causes of early illness and death worldwide. It is the most common form of diabetes and it accounts for over 90% of patients with diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is characterized by insulin resistance leading to increase insulin production by the pancreatic beta-cells, which overtime causes the pancreas to overwork to a point where it no longer can produce any insulin.

Making Healthy Food Choices

Diabetic pre Diabetic Diet Meal Plans Best and worst Diabetic Foods
Knowing what to eat can be confusing. Nowadays everywhere you look, there are news about what you should and what you should not be eating. But a few basic tips have remain unchanged with passing of the time.

Regardless of what cuisine you prefer, here’s what all healthy meal plans have in common. They include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Lean protein foods
  • Less added sugar
  • No Trans Fat


Diabetes Superfoods

There are many meals rich in nutritional vitamins, minerals and fiber which you could make a part of your day by day eating plan that are good for your well being. Some of those include non-starchy vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Superfood” is a term used by many food and beverage corporations as a method to promote a food thought to have health benefits; nevertheless, there is no such thing as an official definition of the phrase by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA regulates the health claims allowed on food labels to make sure there is scientific analysis to support the claims. The list of foods below are rich in nutritional vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber which are good for overall health and might also assist prevent illnesses.

Beans: Kidney, pinto, navy, or black beans are high in fiber and are packed with vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and potassium. They also contain carbohydrates, but half a cup can also provide as much protein as 1 ounce of meat without the saturated fat. Canned beans are also a good option but make sure avoid the added salt by draining and rinsing them before use.

– Dark Green Leafy Vegetables: Spinach, collards, and kale are dark green leafy vegetables packed with vitamins A, C, E, and K, potassium, calcium and iron and they are low in calories and carbohydrates too. Try adding them to your soup, salad and stews.

Citrus Fruit: Oranges, limes, grapefruits and lemons are great choices for your daily dose of fiber, vitamin C, folate and potassium.

Sweet Potatoes: Is full of starch, fiber and vitamin A in addition to a great source of vitamin C and potassium.They are also a very good alternative in case you are craving something sweet.

Fish High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fats may help to reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation. Fish high in these healthy fats are sometimes referred to as “fatty fish.” Salmon is well known in this group. Other fish high in omega-3 are herring, sardines, mackerel, trout, and albacore tuna. The American Diabetes Association Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2017 recommends eating fish (mainly fatty fish) twice per week for people with diabetes.

Nuts: One ounce of nuts not only will help you manage your hunger but it will also provide you with healthy fats in addition to magnesium and fiber. Some nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flax seeds, are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Whole Grains:  The first ingredient on the label should have the word “whole” in it because it’s the whole grain you are after. Some examples of whole grains are whole oats, quinoa, whole grain barley and farro. All these are rich in fiber, magnesium, iron, folic acid, B vitamins and chromium.

Berries: Regardless if you like strawberries, blueberries or other kind of berries, they are all packed with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. They are also another great option in case you are craving something sweet. Berries provide an added benefit of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and fiber.

Tomatoes: The good news is that no matter how you like your tomatoes, pureed, raw, or in a sauce, you’re eating vital nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E and potassium.


What are the Best Fruit Choices for Diabetic diet and Pre Diabetic diet

The best diabetic and pre diabetic fruit choices are any fruit that are fresh, frozen or canned without added sugars. Fruit can be eaten in exchange for other sources of carbohydrate in your meal plan such as starches, grains, or dairy.

For Plate Method: If using the plate method, having a small piece of whole fruit or a ½ cup of fruit salad for dessert is a great complement to the non-starchy vegetables, small portion of starch and protein foods that are on your plate.

For Using the Glycemic Index: Most fruits have a low glycemic index (GI) because of their fructose and fiber content. Melons and pineapple have medium GI values as do some dried fruits such as dates, raisins, and sweetened cranberries.

The following is a list of common fruits:

  • Apples and applesauce
  • Apricots
  • Banana
  • Berries such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries 
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Dried fruit such as: dates, cherries, cranberries, figs, raisins and prunes
  • Fruit cocktail
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Nectarine
  • Orange
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Tangerines
  • Watermelon and honeydew melon
  • Avocado

What is Considered Healthy and Unhealthy Fats for Diabetic  diet and Pre Diabetic diet

Having diabetes increases the risk of having heart disease and stroke since diabetes involves and affects blood vessels. Therefore, it is very important for patients who suffer from diabetes to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats in order to make wise decisions and incorporate more healthy fats into their diabetic and pre diabetic diet.

Healthy Fats

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These will help prevent plaque build up in the arteries. American Diabetes Association (ACA) recommends eating non-fried fish 2-3 times a week since some fish have high amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Here are some examples:

  • Salmon
  • Rainbow trout
  • Albacore tuna
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Mackerel

Some plant foods are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Sources include:

  • Walnuts
  • Canola oil
  • Tofu and other soybean products
  • Flaxseed oil and flaxseed

Monounsaturated fatLDL cholesterol are considered bad cholesterol and monounsaturated fats which are also called good or healthy fats can help lower LDL cholesterol. Sources of monounsaturated fat include:

  • Peanut butter and peanut oil
  • Nuts like cashews, pecans, peanuts and almonds
  • Olives and olive oils
  • Avocado
  • Sesame seeds
  • Canola oil

Please note that nuts and oils are high source of calories and you should eat small portions if you are trying to lose weight or maintain your weight. Also try to cook with olive oil or canola oil instead of margarine, butter or shortening.

Polyunsaturated Fats: ACA recommends like other healthy fats to use polyunsaturated fats instead of unhealthy fats such as saturated fats. Sources are:

  • Walnuts
  • Margarine (soft)
  • Salad dressing
  • Corn oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Salad dressing
  • Sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Unhealthy Fats

Saturated Fat: They can lead to elevated blood cholesterol level, which in turn increases the risk of having heart disease such has heart attack or even stroke. So, it is very important to try to avoid foods containing saturated fats. Some examples include:

  • Dairy products high in fat such as cream, whole milk, 2% milk, sour cream and full fat cheese 
  • Meats that are high fat, such as bacon, sausage, bologna, ground beef and spareribs
  • Gravy made with meat drippings
  • Poultry skin (turkey and chicken)
  • Cream sauces
  • Butter
  • Chocolate
  • Lard
  • Salt pork and fatback
  • Palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut and coconut oil

Saturated fat grams are listed on the Nutrition Facts food label under total fat. As a general rule, compare foods with less saturated fat. Foods with 1 gram or less saturated fat per serving are considered low in saturated fat.

Trans Fat: These fats will also lead to elevated blood cholesterol level and are actually much more worst for you compared to saturated fat. Trans fats are produced when liquid oil is made into solid oil. Source of trans fat include:

  • Stick margarines
  • Some fat foods, specially french fries
  • Processed food snacks like crackers and chips
  • Baked goods like muffins, cookies and cakes
  • Shortening

Cholesterol: Although our body makes some cholesterol, foods from animals are main sources of dietary cholesterol. Foods high in cholesterol include:

  • Egg yolks
  • High fat meat
  • Poultry skin
  • High fat dairy products such as cream, whole milk, 2% milk, sour cream and full fat cheese

Non-starchy Vegetables for diabetic diet and pre diabetic diet

Not only non-starchy vegetables are very healthy and important to be added to diabetic diet and prediabetic diet, they are also very important for healthy individuals.

There are two main types of vegetables; starchy and non-starchy.

Non-starchy vegetables contain a lot less carbohydrates compared to starchy vegetables such as corn, potatoes and peas. 

Non-starchy vegetables are full of minerals, fibers, vitamins and have low calories and therefor are the best vegetable options for patients with pre diabetes and diabetes.

Non-starchy vegetables are readily available as fresh, frozen, canned as well as juices without added sugar, salt or fat. 

Note: Canned and frozen vegetable sauces have high amount of salt and fat. Always look at the labels on frozen or canned vegetables to make sure it does not say added salt. If using canned vegetables, makes sure to drain the water and rinse to get rid of the extra salt before using. 

Here are some of the common non-starchy vegetables in alphabetical order:

  • Amaranth or Chinese spinach
  • Artichoke
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Asparagus        
  • Baby corn
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Beans (green, wax, Italian)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chayote
  • Coleslaw (packaged, no dressing)
  • Cucumber
  • Daikon
  • Eggplant
  • Greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip)
  • Hearts of palm
  • Jicama
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Pea pods
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Salad greens (chicory, endive, escarole, lettuce, romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, watercress)
  • Sprouts
  • Squash (cushaw, summer, crookneck, spaghetti, zucchini)
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomato
  • Turnips
  • Water chestnuts
  • Yard-long beans

Drink options for diabetic diet and pre diabetic diet

Most individuals with diabetes often forget to focus on what type of drinks they consume since they are more focused on their foods. 

Water obviously takes the title home for the best drink choice for general population including diabetics. But do not worry because will discuss some other alternatives. 

Drinks to AvoidDrinks that are high in sugar must be avoided as they will rapidly increase the blood glucose levels. For example, those with diabetes must avoid drinks such as:

  • Energy drinks
  • Regular soda
  • Fruit drinks
  • Fruit punch
  • Sweet tea
  • Sport drinks

Water Alternatives: If you are tired of drinking water, then you can try sparkling water, unsweetened tea, hot or cold black or green tea and herbal teas. 

Making infused water is another great option and it is very easy to make at home by putting water in the fridge overnight and adding your favorite healthy fruits such as strawberries, blueberries or cucumbers. 

Tea and Coffee: plain coffee and tea very little calories and carbs and are ok to be part of healthy diet as long as there is no added cream, sugar, sweetener and non-dairy creamer. 

Juice and Milk: You should avoid 2% and whole milk. However low-fat 1% milk and fat-free milk should be part of healthy diet. 

Juice is a very generous source of carbohydrates even in small portions. Usually 4oz or less of juice contains at least 15 grams or more of carbohydrates. If you love juice then make sure to count it in your meal plan and make sure it says 100% juice with no added sugar. 


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