Eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean settling for less tasty foods or going over budget, especially for diabetes patients. A low-glycemic diet — high in fiber and protein — is recommended for most diabetics to help control blood sugar levels and weight. Following a diabetes diet will still allow diabetics to eat their favorite foods, yes, even those with the sweetest tooth.
Diabetics should ensure they consume foods that provide key nutrients — calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and E — says the Mayo Clinic, to improve glycemic control and risk factors for coronary heart disease. This low-glycemic diet is not just for diabetics, but ideal for everyone, especially to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes for non-diabetics. A tasty, healthy eating plan — high in nutrients, low in fat, and moderate in calories — can be created by adding these six budget-friendly superfoods to any diabetes diet:
Beans are considered to be the best source of dietary fiber as it slows digestion and keeps blood sugar levels from raising after a meal. Whether you prefer kidney, pinto, navy, or black beans, half a cup will provide you with about a third of your daily fiber requirement, says Harvard University Health Services. These starchy vegetables are a great alternative to meat.
Tip: Buying canned beans can save time and end up costing you less. Remember to drain and rinse these beans to reduce sodium intake.
Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, or a variety can cater to even the sweetest tooth and become part of your new healthy dessert. Berries are considered to be a diabetes superfood by the American Diabetes Association, loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber. Most importantly, they're low in carbs. Three quarters of a cup of fresh blueberries have 62 calories and 16 grams of carbohydrates.
Tip: Buy fruits and vegetables when they are in season. The quality of the fruit will not only be richer, but they will typically cost less. To purchase produce that is out of season, opt for canned and frozen fruits which can not only be cheaper, but also stay fresh longer.
To add some spice to your life, just sprinkle cinnamon on your foods to effectively lower your blood sugar levels. Cinnamon helps the body use insulin more effectively, allowing more glucose to enter cells. Just half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day has been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels for those with type 2 diabetes, said Dr. Mercola, physician and surgeon, on his website.
Tip: Check to see if there is a discount grocery store in your area where you can save up to 40 percent in groceries.
4. Fat-Free Milk and Yogurt
Milk and yogurt contain calcium that helps build strong bones and teeth, and they are also a good source of vitamin D. Diabetics who consume calcium-rich foods, such as yogurt, may have an easier time losing weight, and are less likely to become insulin resistant, according to HealthCentral. A nonfat, plain yogurt for breakfast, or as a snack can be garnished with fresh fruit or low-fat granola.
Tip: Opt to buy store brands because they often taste the same and could even save you more than 50 percent.
Fish is an excellent substitute for meats with high fat because they are a good source of protein. The University of Rochester Medical Center says Fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids — unsaturated fats — that help keep the arteries cleaner. Typically, diabetics have high triglycerides and low levels of HDL — the “good” cholesterol, so opting for fatty fish can help improve your health. Salmon, mackerel, and tuna are among some of the excellent sources of omega-3s.
Tip: Visit a local grocer or fish market and look at the eyes and the gills to make sure there is no discoloration. It’s better to cook the fish immediately, rather than to put it in the freezer where the fish can get mushy.
Consuming 2 oz. of nuts not only provides healthy fats and controls hunger, they are also rich in magnesium, fiber, and “good” fats, which help reduce insulin resistance and regulate blood sugar levels. A study published in the journal Diabetes Care found nuts can provide a specific food option for people with type 2 diabetes who wish to reduce their carbohydrate intake.
Tip: Buying in bulk often means the unit price of an item goes down as the size of the container goes up.
Remember to not only be a savvy shopper, but a healthy shopper. Avoid buying foods labeled diabetic because they can be pricey and are not necessary to abide by a healthy meal plan. Diabetics, you can still eat budget-friendly healthy foods to manage your diabetes.