Avocado, tomato, and almonds


The foods you eat are your choice to make, even if you have diabetes. But, some some foods are better than others. Here are 5 "superfoods" to add to your meal plan for better health and nutrition! 


As humans, we all eat food. While most foods have some nutritional value, not all are great choices. That’s not to say you shouldn’t ever eat certain foods. There are many foods out there that we eat not primarily for fuel, but for enjoyment. Foods high in processed carbohydrates, added sugar, fats, and sodium fit well into that category. But it is important to limit these types of foods, and balance them with nutrient-rich, natural, healthy foods. 

Total nutrition vs. carbohydrates

People with diabetes are often told what they should or should not eat, especially when it comes to carbohydrates. It makes some sense, because carbs raise blood sugar levels, usually quickly, and can contribute to weight fluctuation. But the reality is that a diabetes diet is something that can be individualized. There are no foods that you simply cannot eat. Moderation is so important for people who are trying to create a sustainable, healthy meal plan to manage blood glucose and weight. Overly restricting can backfire, taking you from a low-carb diet to an ALL-THE-CARBS diet. Think about your health goals, discuss with your healthcare professional, and remember that you get to choose what foods you eat and how often you eat them.

One of the most important things to remember when choosing foods for managing diabetes is that it’s not all about carbohydrates. True, reducing carbs is helpful. The standard American diet tends to include excessive amounts. But think beyond carbohydrates to factor in types of carbs and total nutritional value.

Many of the foods people with diabetes are commonly told they shouldn’t eat (we call them diabetes problem foods) are things that are okay to eat in moderation, and are often some of the more healthy foods out there, like apples and bananas...even potatoes. The most important thing is to make sure you eat foods like these with carb count and blood sugar management strategies in mind.

Some foods tend to have higher nutritional value while naturally lower in carbohydrates. They are often referred to as “superfoods” because they are rich and micro- and macro-nutrients with little or no negative effects on your body. Here are some of the best superfoods to eat if you have diabetes.

5 Superfoods for Your Diabetes Diet

Avocado

Avocados

Avocados are one of the most highly nutritious foods you can find in the produce section of your local grocery store. Despite its flavors being very unique compared to other fruits, avocado has become quite popular among healthy eaters. For people who are trying to keep carb intake minimal or manage blood sugar by reducing carbohydrates in their diets, avocados are naturally low-carb. The few carbs they do have are mostly fiber. They are also low in sodium and contain no cholesterol. Additionally, Avocados are high in healthy fats.

Nutritional profile – 1 California Hass Avocado

  • Calories: 227

  • Total Fat: 21g (2.9g Saturated, 2.5g Polyunsaturated, 13.3g Monounsaturated)

  • Cholesterol: 0

  • Sodium: 11mg

  • Total Carbohydrate: 11.8g (9.2g Fiber, making 2.6 Net Carbs)

  • Protein: 2.7g

  • Calcium: 18mg

  • Potassium: 690mg

Avocados are also rich in Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and Folate. You also get trace amounts of magnesium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus, which are all essential micronutrients that are lacking in most diets.

How to include avocados in your diet

One of the most common foods that feature avocado is guacamole! The great thing about guacamole is that you can add other nutritious foods, like onions and tomatoes. Try this guacamole recipe from Diabetes Forecast Magazine, or this, our own avocado dip

Avocado also makes a great addition to sandwiches, burgers, salads (check out our Cucumber Feta Avocado Salad from Chef Robert Lewis), or even alone with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of lemon juice right in the skin.


Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds in general are among the most nutritious foods you can eat. There is so much variety in types and flavor! Some popular nuts and seeds:

  • Almonds

  • Brazil nuts

  • Cashews

  • Hazel nuts

  • Macadamia nuts

  • Pistachios

  • Pecans

  • Walnuts

  • Chia seeds

  • Flax seeds

  • Pine nuts

  • Pomegranate 

  • Polly seeds

  • Pumpkin seeds

  • Quinoa

  • Sesame seeds

  • Sunflower seeds

Nutritional Profile

In order to get the health benefits of nuts and seeds, it is important to understand the full nutritional value of common options. Some are surprisingly higher in carbohydrates, others are low-carb. But either way, most of the carbohydrates found in nuts and seeds are fiber and have a low glycemic index. Identify your best choices based on your blood sugar goals and use portion control when managing your food choices. Some nutrients commonly found in nuts and seeds include fiber, protein, thiamin, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin E, several B vitamins, calcium, folate, and more. Many of them are also loaded with healthy fats and antioxidants.

How to include nuts and seeds in your diet

Nuts and seeds are very popular in several diets, such as ketogenic (keto diet), low carb high fat (LCHF), and others eating plans that focus on reducing processed foods and high-carb food choices for weight loss, weight management, diabetes management, or other health goals.

You can mix them together in so many different combinations to create unique healthy snacks. Mixed nuts, trail mix, granola bars, salads, soups…

If you are a bread eater, look for whole grain breads that include seeds, which increase the fiber content and other nutritional value.

Do you like baked goods? Grind up almonds, one of the best and most versatile low-carb nuts, into almond flour that can be used to reduce or replace white flour in a number of baking recipes to reduce carbohydrates. 


Sliced fish

Fish

Fish are a high-protein low-fat food option with so many great health benefits and no shortage of options. The list of fish you can eat is even more numerous than the health benefits! Some of the most common fish you can find at the grocery store, seafood restaurant, or sushi place are tuna, salmon, cod, halibut, and tilapia. But next time you’re out for fish, try some of the less-common species, like mackerel, herring, swordfish, trout, flounder, bass, snapper, and flounder, just to name a few. 

Nutritional Profile

The nutritional value of fish will vary some depending on the species, but in general, fish are known as the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 has major benefits to heart health! According to Mayo Clinic, Omega-3 fatty acids decrease triglycerides, reduce blood clotting and irregular heartbeat, and decrease overall risk of stroke and heart failure. And, considering how much higher your risk of developing heart disease as someone with diabetes, eating more fish may be one of the best things you can do for your health. 

How to include fish in your diet

When you are planning your meals for the week, try to include a fish twice a week. Health experts recommend two servings (8 ounces) of fish per week. Start with this easy Oven-Roasted Salmon recipe from Chef Robert Lewis. Try making your own low-carb fish sticks with Kalyn Denny’s Air Fryer Fish Sticks. Or even simpler with this Roasted Sea Bass With Wine and Herbs recipe from Diabetes Forecast Magazine. 


Bell peppers and non-starchy vegetables

Non-starchy veggies

Ever since you were a kid, you’ve been told to eat your vegetables. As adults, many people forget! It’s time to get back to eating more veggies. 

When it comes to diabetes management, it matters what veggies you chose! Starchy vegetables are one of the 5 subgroups of veggies. All things considered, starchy foods have a huge impact on blood sugar levels and diabetes management. But remember, it’s okay to eat starches. Just do so mindfully and with an understanding of what starch is and how it affects diabetes

But there are also loads of non-starchy veggies. When you choose non-starchy vegetables, you get to enjoy the nutritional benefits of veggies without worrying so much about blood sugar spikes.

Nutritional Profile

Non-starchy vegetables are low-calorie, low- or no-fat, no-cholesterol foods with lots of dietary fiber. Most are excellent sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, potassium, folate, and magnesium. Non-starchy vegetables are also a source of water. It sounds odd, but you can get much closer to consuming the recommended daily amount of water by upping your veggies! Try to eat 3 to 5 servings per day (a serving is ½ cup cooked, or 1 cup raw), and even more whenever you can.

Here are some of the best non-starchy veggies to add to your diet:

  • Asparagus

  • Beets

  • Bell peppers

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Broccoli

  • Cabbage

  • Carrots

  • Cauliflower

  • Celery

  • Collared Greens

  • Green beans

  • Onions

  • Kale

  • Lettuce (try different varieties like romaine or red leaf)

  • Spinach

  • Squash (actually a fruit, but widely used and considered as “veggies”)

How to include non-starchy veggies into your diet

Most veggies are fantastic raw. Snack on baby carrots, celery sticks with peanut butter, or even just whole green beans. 

When it comes to cooking with vegetables, there are some surprising and tasty ways to do it. Here are some of our favorite recipes that include non-starchy vegetables. Try some out this week!


TomatoesTomatoes

Fruit or vegetable? The question has been asked for ages, but has a simple answer. Tomatoes are fruit, but they are mostly eaten as a vegetable. Have you ever eaten a tomato pie, tomato jam, or sliced tomato into a morning bowl of cereal? Although some of those options DO exist...neither have we! That’s because tomatoes are not sweet. They are acidic, and usually used as a topping for more savory dishes. The only way tomatoes are commonly eaten like a fruit is when you pick one off its vine and just bite in. 

Nutritional Profile

Aside from the way they are eaten, tomatoes are considered a superfood because of the density of nutrients. For people with diabetes, it is an especially great superfood because of its low glycemic impact. In general, tomatoes are low-calorie, high-fiber, low-net carb (total carbohydrates minus dietary fiber), but excellent sources of essential nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, potassium, folate, and iron. Tomatoes are also over 90% water!

On the other side of the spectrum, eating too many tomatoes is said to promote acid reflux. So be mindful about how many tomatoes you add to your daily eating.

How to include tomatoes in your diet

You can always throw tomatoes in as a snack. Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes are tasty and bite-sized. Or, slice up a larger tomato to eat raw, or sprinkle a little salt and pepper for a more savory snack. 

Use tomatoes as a raw ingredient. Add tomatoes as a topping on salads for a juicy and nutritious boost. Try basing a whole salad on tomatoes

Cooking with tomatoes can have some delicious results. Try some of our favorite tomato recipes:

Managing food is one of the most important aspects of diabetes treatment. Meal planning and mindfulness are key to regulating blood sugar. For most people with type 2 diabetes, diet and exercise are the main factors in diabetes management. But even for people with type 1 diabetes, or those with type 2 diabetes who use insulin, eating well is essential to quality of life, a healthy A1c, and overall health. Get the most out of your food choices by adding more avocado, nuts and seeds, fish, non-starchy veggies, and tomatoes to your diet. Your body and your blood sugar will thank you! 

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