Sweet Relief
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31 Foods for Diabetics That Help Keep Blood Sugar Under Control

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Sweet Relief
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SWEET ALTERNATIVES

For people with diabetes, keeping close tabs on their blood-sugar levels is essential, and that means keeping close tabs on their diet. We asked Vandana Sheth, a registered dietitian-nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to weigh in on some of the best eating practices for people with diabetes. Sheth owns a nutrition consulting business in Los Angeles and has been a dietitian for over 20 years.
According to Sheth, "The key to maintaining good blood-sugar control is to enjoy regular meals/snacks throughout the day, be mindful of your portions, and enjoy a wide variety of foods to adequately meet your nutritional needs." She recommends eating a diet rich in whole grains and heart-healthy fats, a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. At the same time, limiting "red meat and especially processed fatty foods such as hot dogs, bacon, etc." is a top priority. Sheth is clear that "there is no specific food that needs to be banned from your diet even if you have diabetes," and that with attention paid to portions and timing, an occasional treat can be part of a healthy lifestyle. But be sure to discuss any dietary changes with your doctor.

Related:19 Places Where Diabetics Can Safely Eat Out

Apples - Fall
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APPLES

The original source of sweetness for many of the early settlers in the United States, the sugar from an apple comes with a healthy dose of fiber. An apple is still a healthy and sweet treat that is safe for those who need to watch blood sugar spikes and dips.

Related:25 Creative Ways to Enjoy Apples This Season

Berries - Summer
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BERRIES

Berries are very low on the glycemic index, and they get a lot of their flavor from compounds other than sugar. A handful of berries can provide a flavorful and mildly sweet complement to plain yogurt or oatmeal without compromising blood-sugar levels.

Related:20 Ways to Jazz Up Your Oatmeal

Bananas
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BANANAS

Bananas contain a lot of potassium and other healthy nutrients. Frozen banana pieces can be turned into one-ingredient homemade soft serve by pulsing them in a food processor. Adding flavors like vanilla and cinnamon make it seem even sweeter without adding any actual sugar.

Kiwi
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KIWI

Kiwis offer a lot of sweetness with fiber and are especially useful for adding sweetness to things like smoothies and blended fillings. Their texture lends itself well to creamy and rich-feeling dishes.

Avocado
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AVOCADO

Creamy, rich, and full of healthy fats, avocados can make an appearance any time of day for a meal or snack. Avocado toast is cheaper to make at home, but also widely available on menus everywhere thanks to the ongoing trend.

Chia Seeds
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CHIA SEEDS

These hydrating little superfoods have been part of indigenous diets for hundreds of years. When mixed with coconut milk, they turn into a creamy pudding-like treat that is just begging to be topped with berries, cacao nibs, and bananas.

Related:16 Superfoods to Help You Eat Healthy This Spring

Snack Bin
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TREE NUTS

Nuts are an excellent source of healthy fats, and they can help satisfy a snack craving. Opt for nuts to balance out other high-carb ingredients, or better yet, instead of empty high-calorie snacks like potato and corn chips.

Flax Seeds
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FLAX SEEDS

Flax seeds are very mild in flavor, super high in heart healthy fats, and very versatile. Use ground flaxseed mixed with water in place of an egg in baked goods, or sprinkle ground flax seeds over yogurt and fruit parfaits, salads, or in smoothies.

Quinoa
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QUINOA

Quinoa has fiber and protein, and while it is enjoyed as a grain, it's actually a seed. Using it in place of other grains can help keep the blood-sugar effects of any given meal in check. Consider getting pasta and noodles made from quinoa instead of white flour.

Olive Oil (Extra Virgin, Store Brand)
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OLIVE OIL

Olive oil is a well-known heart-healthy fat. Changing out the butter in your cooking in favor of olive oil can be beneficial for overall health, especially when it comes to cardiovascular issues, which often accompany diabetes.

Eggs
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EGGS

Eggs are a source of protein and other nutrients in an easy to access package. Basing breakfast around eggs, rather than grain-based treats like pancakes and toast, can help to stabilize blood-sugar levels from the start of the day.

Related:10 Simple Ways to Cook Eggs

Eat Fish
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FISH

Fish checks off two boxes: healthy fats and protein. Adding a few ounces of fish to a salad or alongside an omelet is an easy and tasty way to elevate the nutrition of a meal as well as create a balance of macronutrients.

Mushrooms
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MUSHROOMS

One of the healthiest ingredients, mushrooms are safe for those with diabetes while also contributing to overall health. Including a lot of mushrooms is a tasty way to get a whole host of health benefits above and beyond blood-sugar issues.

Leafy Greens
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LEAFY GREENS

Leafy greens are good for everyone, especially those with diabetes. In fact, some studies suggest that leafy greens may actually reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which usually develops later in life.

Cruciferous Vegetables
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CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES

Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and more. These nutrient rich veggies are known for contributing to a healthy cardiovascular system, which is of primary concern for those with diabetes. Including these in the normal rotation a few times a week is a good idea.

Oats
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Green Tea
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Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
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SWEET POTATOES

Sweet potatoes are a healthier choice for people with diabetes than white potatoes, largely because they have a lower glycemic rating. Learning to indulge in baked sweet potatoes rather than a plate of traditional fries is a tasty lifestyle switch for those living with diabetes and prediabetes.

Bone Broth
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BONE BROTH

Bone broth is rich with nutrients and is very satisfying. Indulging in something so hearty can help feelings of fullness and satiety without compromising sugar levels. Homemade is always best, but these days, the trendiness of bone broth makes it even easier to find pre-made.

Homemade Jerky Fixings
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High-Protein Crackers
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HIGH-PROTEIN CRACKERS

Processed carbs like crackers can be difficult for people with diabetes, both Types 1 and 2. Snacking on high-protein crackers made mostly or exclusively from seeds provides a savory crunch with a lot more balanced nutrition.

Marinated Olives
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OLIVES

High in protein and healthy fats, olives make a satisfying snack when craving something savory. The one caveat is the potentially high salt content, which some people may need to avoid or enjoy in moderation.

Hummus
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Make Seltzer at Home
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SELTZER & CITRUS

Seltzer should be the soft drink of choice for people with blood-sugar sensitivities. Soda and juices wreak havoc on blood-sugar levels. Add some interest to seltzer by squeezing in some fresh citrus, opting for flavored (but not sweetened) versions, or infusing with a sprig of fresh herbs.

Garlic
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GARLIC

Aside from being delicious, some studies suggest that garlic in various forms, can actually help with the management of diabetes. While garlic is not meant to replace any lifestyle changes or medications, it can certainly be a flavorful addition that may help regulate blood sugar levels.

Turmeric
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TURMERIC

Turmeric is widely recognized as a healthy spice, especially useful for aiding management of symptoms that often come along with diabetes, like inflammation. Including turmeric is easy thanks to its mild flavor, which mixes well with sweet and savory dishes.

Cinnamon
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CINNAMON

There is still some controversy in the medical community about cinnamon being able to help lower blood sugar levels, but everyone agrees that it doesn't hurt. Also, cinnamon is delicious, so it can offer some variety and flavor to your routine.

Apple Cider Vinegar
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APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

Apple cider vinegar is a home remedy for almost anything these days, and according to some preliminary research, the management of diabetes. Adding a little bit of ACV to some water for a tangy and exhilarating morning shot to get the day started on a healthy note definitely won't hurt.

Greek Yogurt
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GREEK YOGURT

Yogurt, especially the extra-thick Greek variety, is packed with protein and other nutrients, and naturally low in sugars. To keep this as a healthy option, go for unsweetened versions and add your own flavorings like vanilla, cinnamon, and berries rather than processed syrups.

Peanut Butter
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PEANUT BUTTER

Peanut butter is rich in fat and protein. Avoid ones that contain added sugar; the best bet is from a health food store that grinds fresh peanuts for a one-ingredient peanut butter that can be used in a variety of ways.

Dark Chocolate
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DARK CHOCOLATE

Dark chocolate, especially versions with over 75 percent cacao, is more chocolate than sugar. It is still a treat and should be enjoyed in moderation, but should by no means be cut out of a healthy lifestyle and diabetes-friendly diet.