Not all healthy foods are created equal. Greens may be good for you, but the nutrients in iceberg lettuce may not be as plentiful as those in kale, spinach, and Swiss chard.
Besides nutrient content, the glycemic index (GI) of a food may also help you make healthy choices.
The GI measures how quickly a food will raise blood sugar. Low GI foods have a score of 55 or less, while high GI foods have a score of 70 or more.
Here are 10 superfoods that are especially good for those with diabetes.
This category of veggies goes a long way in satisfying your hunger and boosting your intake of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals.
These vegetables are also low in calories and carbohydrates, making them some of the few foods that people with diabetes can enjoy almost with abandon.
In fact, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) identifies most non-starchy vegetables as low GI foods with a ranking of 55 or less.
In a small study from 2011, researchers even suggested that people given a low-calorie diet consisting of non-starchy vegetables might successfully reverse type 2 diabetes.
Studies have shown a 14 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes with daily yogurt consumption.
With a low GI score, unsweetened Greek yogurt is full of healthy probiotics, calcium, and protein. It’s also a better option that regular yogurt due to its higher protein and lower carbohydrate content.
Always check nutrition labels, as some brands have a higher carbohydrate content than others, due to additions such as syrup flavorings, sweeteners, toppers, or fruit preserves.
Top unsweetened Greek yogurt with nuts and low GI fruits such as blackberries, blueberries, or raspberries.
Whether eaten raw or cooked, tomatoes are full of lycopene. This a powerful substance that may reduce the risk of cancer (especially prostate cancer), heart disease, and macular degeneration.
Like other non-starchy fruits, tomatoes have a low GI ranking.
One study in 2011 found that 200 grams of raw tomato (or about 1.5 medium tomatoes) each day reduced blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes. Researchers concluded tomato consumption might help reduce cardiovascular risk that’s associated with type 2 diabetes.
From vision-protecting vitamin C to filling fiber, blueberries are antioxidant powerhouses.
These berries have some of the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit or vegetable and may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. They also have anti-inflammatory properties.
Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also excellent choices for people with diabetes.
One study in 2008 found that eating citrus fruits could lower the risk of diabetes in women, but drinking the fruit juice could increase that risk.
The citrus with the lowest GI score is grapefruit. With a score of 25, grapefruit has one of the lowest GI scores of all fruits.
Since fish and other protein foods don’t contain carbs, they won’t increase blood sugar levels. Adding salmon to a meal can help slow digestion of other foods eaten at that meal and help increase fullness.
Fish oil is another source of omega-3 fatty acids. Ask your doctor before taking any supplements to see which, if any, are best for your condition.
Walnuts also contain alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that boosts heart health and lowers cholesterol. They’re full of vitamin E, folic acid, zinc, and protein.
Many other nuts provide healthy fats and can curb hunger, but these two are particularly powerful.
Substituting nuts and other healthy fats for carbs can help lower blood sugar. Nuts generally have very low GI scores.
Want another reason to snack on nuts? Older research has shown the people who eat nuts regularly have less risk of developing diabetes.
Beans are among nature’s most nutritious foods.
They’re high in fiber and protein, making them a great option for vegetarians and vegans. They also deliver essential minerals like magnesium and potassium.
They’re low on the GI, too. Soya beans rank in around 16, while kidney beans come in at 24, and chickpeas around 28.
According to a study in 2012, beans may be a good way to control glycemic levels in people with type 2 diabetes. They can also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Collard greens are another leafy green that packs a ton of nutrients into a small package.
Kale contains chemicals called glucosinolates that help neutralize cancer-causing substances. It’s also full of potassium and has been shown to help manage blood pressure.
This is another reason it’s considered a superfood for those with diabetes.
Whole grains are full of antioxidants and soluble and insoluble fiber. These help to metabolize fats and keep the digestive track healthy.
People who regularly eat hulled barley typically have lower blood cholesterol. The grain also keeps blood sugar levels stable.
Lentils are another good option since they provide B vitamins, iron, complex carbohydrates, and protein.
While 100 percent stone-ground whole wheat bread is considered a low GI food, other types of whole wheat bread may have medium GI rankings, with scores between 56 and 69.
Eating whole grains may help decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, if you choose the right type.