Diabetes Diet 101: All the foods you should eat ( & avoid)

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a health condition which is caused by the elevated levels of the glucose or the blood sugar levels in the body of an individual. The hormone called insulin produced by the pancreas helps in the regulation of the glucose level in the blood. In certain conditions, your body doesn’t make the required amount of insulin or just cannot use the insulin properly for glucose metabolism. These conditions result in the increase of the blood sugar level which is called diabetes. There are various types of diabetes. The most common types of Diabetes are as follows:
Type 1 Diabetes: In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas fails to produce the required amount of insulin. The pancreatic cells are destroyed by the immune system and thus prevents the production of the insulin. Type 1 diabetes is very common in young children and young adults. The onset of the Type 1 Diabetes can occur at any age. The people with Type 1 diabetes have to take insulin everyday for staying alive.
Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 Diabetes is the condition in which the body cannot use the produced insulin properly. It is the most common kind of Diabetes and it occurs mostly in adults and older people.
Gestational Diabetes: The type of diabetes which gets developed in a woman during the time of pregnancy is called Gestational Period. Gestational diabetes goes away right after child birth. But, in many cases, there are high chances that the woman will develop Type 2 Diabetes later in life.

What are the other types of Diabetes?

There are two other types of Diabetes which are less common. These are the following types of Diabetes:

  • Monogenic Diabetes: This is a condition which is caused by the mutations in one single gene.
  • Cystic fibrosis-related Diabetes: The people who are suffering from Cystic Fibrosis produces a thick and sticky mucus which affects the cells of the pancreases scarring them badly. In certain cases, the pancreas stops producing insulin or the produced insulin is not well used by the body for the production of the energy. This automatically leads to the elevation of the blood sugar level or the blood glucose level..

What are the symptoms of Diabetes?

There are few common signs and symptoms which are related to Diabetes. These are the following:

  • Dehydration and increase of thirst
  • The feeling of urinating very frequently
  • A sudden shift of hunger resulting in an increased hunger
  • Abrupt loss of weight
  • Presence of ketones(byproducts produced due to the breakdown of muscles and fats by the insulin hormone) in the urine of an individual.
  • Irritability
  • Changes in the mood
  • Blurry vision  or double vision
  • Persisting weakness and fatigues
  • Sores which heal very slowly 
  • The individuals with diabetes are more prone to skin, vaginal and gums infections.

The global prevalence of diabetes is quite high, 1 in every 430-530 people who are under 19 years old has Type 1 diabetes. Almost more than 500 million people have Type 2 Diabetes.

What is diabetes diet?

A Diabetes diet consists of eating three meals per day at regular time intervals. This helps in the better regulation of the levels of glucose in the blood. Following a Diabetes diet can help your body use the insulin properly which is produced by your body or else the insulin which is taken via medications and injections.  The Diabetes diet is based on the health conditions of an individual, their tastes and lifestyle too. It involves improving your eating habits according to the needs of your size(i.e. Your weight and height) and the activity level.

What are the foods that come under the Diabetes diet?

There are various foods which are best for people suffering from any type of diabetes are  as follows:

Fatty fishes 

It is one of the healthiest foods for people suffering from any type of diabetes. The best sources of Omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies and mackerel. These have major significant roles n managing the health condition of the heart. Diabetic patients with an increased rate of heart diseases and stroke are highly recommended a regular intake of the fatty fishes. The consumption of the fatty fishes regularly even results in the reductions in the level of triglycerides and inflammatory markers. It is also a great source of protein which helps in the increase of the metabolic rate.

Leafy Green vegetables 

Green and leafy vegetable are rich in nutrition. They have extremely low calories. The vegetables which are a great source of several vitamins and minerals are spinach, kale etc. these leafy green vegetables are also a great source of Vitamin C which helps in the reduction of the inflammatory markers and fasting blood sugar levels for the people who are suffering from Type  2 Diabetes or people who have high blood pressure. The content of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin help in protecting the eyes from various problems related to the vision like cataract etc.


Cinnamon has a potent antioxidant activity and is very helpful in lowering the blood sugar levels. Cinnamon plays a pivotal role in improving insulin sensitivity. Long term Diabetes is detected by evaluating the levels of the Haemoglobin A1c which reflects the blood sugar level over 2  to 3 months. The individuals who had the intake of cinnamon for 90 or more days had a huge reduction in the Haemoglobin A1c. Cinnamon also plays a very significant role in regulating and decreasing the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol.


Eggs have a lot of health benefits. The risks of heart diseases decrease by the regular consumption of eggs. Eggs are very helpful in decreasing any inflammation and improve the sensitivity of insulin. It increases the levels of the HDL(High-Density Cholesterol) and it modifies the shapes and the sizes of the LDL(Low-Density Cholesterol). Eggs are the best sources of the antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthin which protect the eyes from any disease.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds have an extremely high content of fibre but still, they are low in carbohydrates. The consumption of Chia seeds rich in the viscous fibre helps in the lowering of the blood sugar level by slowing down the rate of the absorption of the food as the food moves down the gut. Since high fibre reduces hunger, the chia seeds are very helpful in losing weight. Besides helping in the reduction of the intake of the calories, Chia seeds also help in the reduction of the blood pressure and the inflammatory markers.


Turmeric contains asn active ingredient – curcumin. The curcumin helps in the lowering of inflammations and blood glucose or blood sugar level. The risks of heart diseases are reduced by the consumption of turmeric. The health of the kidney in diabetic patients is taken care of by the content of curcumin in the turmeric. In order to ensure the correct and even increased level of absorption of the curcumin, consume turmeric with piperine(which is found in black pepper).

Greek Yoghurt

Greek Yoghurt is always the best choice of dairy product for diabetic people. It helps in the improvement of blood glucose or blood sugar level. It helps in the reduction of the risks of heart diseases due to the contents of probiotics. It helps even in weight loss and better body composition in the case of the people suffering from the Type 2  Diabetes. The Conjugated Linolic Acid(CLA) and high calcium content play a significant role in cutting down the carbohydrate intake by an individual. Being a very high protein, it helps in the reduction of the weight by reducing the appetite and lessening the amount of carbohydrate intake.


Nuts are immensely nutritious since it contains a lot of fibre and has lower amounts of digestible carbohydrates. The amounts of the digestible carbohydrates per 1 oz(28 grams) in various kinds of nuts are as follows:

  • Almonds: 2.6 grams
  • Brazil nuts: 1.4 grams
  • Cashews: 7.7 grams
  • Hazelnuts: 2 grams
  • Macadamia: 1.5 grams
  • Pecans: 1.2 grams
  • Pistachios: 5 grams
  • Walnuts: 2 grams

Consumption of  the nuts help in the reduction of the following:

  • Blood glucose level
  • LDL(Low-Density Lipoprotein) or the “Bad Cholesterol”
  • Levels of the HbA1
  • Inflammations 


A regular intake of half-cup cooked broccoli is very essential for diabetic people. It has various usefulness. Half cup cooked broccoli consists of 27 calories and 3 grams of digestible carbohydrates as well as important nutrients like vitamin C and magnesium. Brocolli helps in lowering the levels of insulin in a person’s blood. Brocolli is also a very rich source of antioxidants, namely lutein and zeaxanthin which help in preventing any eye diseases.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the best element which helps in the reduction of any kind of heart risks. The content of the Oleic Acid(a type of monosaturated fat) helps in improving the status of triglycerides and HDL(High-Density Lipoprotein) or the “Good Cholesterol” in the people who are suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. The level of the fullness hormone called GLP-1(glucagon-like peptide-1) is increased. The content of the antioxidant called polyphenols helps in the reduction of the inflammation and protection of the cell linings of the blood vessels. The antioxidant also plays a significant role in regulating and managing the levels of LDL(Low-Density Lipoprotein).

Flax seeds

It consists of a lot of fibre which is insoluble and made of lignans. It helps in decreasing the threats of heart disease and also improves the levels of blood sugar or blood glucose. The viscous fibre content helps in the improvement of the health of the gut, sensitivity of insulin and feeling of fullness.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar contains less than 1  gram of carbs per tablespoon since the sugar of the apple is fermented into acetic acid. The Apple Cider Vinegar helps in improving the sensitivity of insulin and also helps in lowering the blood sugar or blood glucose level.  Apple cider vinegar lowers the rate of the stomach emptying and keeps the feeling of fullness for a longer time. Consumption of Apple Cider Vinegar is very difficult for the people who have gastroparesis which is a condition in which the emptying of the stomach is highly delayed which is very common in the Type 1 Diabetes. 


Strawberries have very high levels of antioxidants such as anthocyanins which give them a red colour. Anthocyanins are highly helpful for the reduction of the levels of cholesterol and insulin levels. The blood glucose level is regulated by the strawberries and it helps in decreasing the risks of any heart infection or diseases. A cup of strawberries consists of 49 calories and 11 grams of carbohydrate. The high fibre and vitamin C content of the strawberry are very helpful as an anti-inflammatory substance for the maintenance of the good health of the heart.


Beans are the best source of intake of plant-based protein. They can satisfy the appetite of a person and keep the feeling of fullness for a longer time. It helps in the reduction of the intake of the carbohydrate. Beans are very useful for the regulation of blood sugar. Beans contain a  very complex carbohydrate thus resulting in the slower digestion than any other carbohydrate. Consuming beans are very healthy for losing weight. It helps in the regulation of a person’s blood pressure and cholesterol. Beans contain very essential nutrients such as iron, potassium and magnesium

There are various kinds of beans like:

  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Black beans
  • Navy beans
  • Adzuki beans

Whole grains 

The high levels of fibre and nutrients in the whole grains are very helpful for diabetic people since fibre slows down the process of digestion. The nutrients get very slowly absorbed and that helps in keeping the blood glucose or blood sugar levels very stable.

The most common examples of whole-grain are as follows:

  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain bread
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Millet
  • Bulgur
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat 
  • Rye 

Shirataki noodles 

Shirataki noodles which are the best food for weight loss, are rich in the fibre glucomannan which are extracted from the konjac roots. The content of the Glucomannan which is a type of viscous fibre makes you feel full and satisfied since it decreases the hunger hormone called ghrelin. It is always helpful in reducing the blood sugar level after eating and it also improves the condition of the heart diseases and risk factors related to it. Shirataki noodles of 3.5-oz(100 gram) contain hardly one gram of digestible carbohydrates.

What are the foods which should be highly avoided in a Diabetes Diet?

Besides following the chart of the foods to be eaten, there are certain foods, consumption of which should be avoided by a diabetic person. For improving the health conditions, always it is important to choose foods with a low GI(Glycemic Index) paired with high protein foods and healthy fats. This helps in the reduction of the impact on blood sugar and feel full for a very long time. The foods which are high on GI(Glycemic Index) include:
White bread
Puffed rice
White rice
White pasta
White pasta 

Foods to avoid for diabetics

The intake of carbohydrate should be very limited in the people who have diabetes.

 High-GI fruits

The fruits which are high on the GI(Glycemic Index) scale such as pineapples and melons are highly recommended for the people with diabetes.

Saturated and trans fats

The consumption of any unhealthy fats such as saturated and trans fats can have adverse health effects on an individual suffering from diabetes. Mainly the packaged and the processed foods such as fries, chips and baked goods contain saturated fats and trans fats.

Refined sugar

Refined sugar should be highly avoided by individuals who are suffering from diabetes. Consumption of any kinds of sweets, snacks, cakes biscuits etc should be limited if a person is suffering from diabetes. The sugar consumption shouldn’t exceed more than 24 grams i.e. 6 teaspoons per day for women and 36 grams or 9 teaspoons per day for men.

Sugary drinks

Any kind of drinks containing sugar should be strictly avoided.

Salty foods

High content of salt can increase blood pressure. Hence it is recommended to avoid any salty food in the case of any diabetic person. The sodium intake generally recommended is 2,300 milligrams per day.


The people who are undergoing insulin treatments or insulin secretagogue therapies have higher chances of suffering from hypoglycemia which is linked with alcohol consumption.

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