Diets challenge everyone, especially diabetics, who have other health issues to manage besides losing weight. Diabetics must balance their blood glucose levels and prevent heart and vessel disease, a higher risk for them. Managing cholesterol – the main factor for vessel and heart disease – requires some diet adjustments.
Diabetics need to eat less saturated fat and bad cholesterol, which occur in animal products – meats (especially liver), dairy products, and egg yolks. To encourage good cholesterol, eat unsaturated fats (vegetable oils) and monosaturated fat (olive oil). Foods high in fiber help to reduce bad cholesterol in the blood.
Fiber also helps diabetics maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Fibrous foods include fruits, vegetables (preferably raw and unpeeled), peas and beans, plus whole grain breads and cereals. Glycemic index (GI) indicates how quickly glucose gets released into the bloodstream from a certain food. Some high GI foods to avoid include dates, raisins, potatoes, most salad dressings, white bread and rolls, and processed breakfast cereals not based on oats, barley or bran. High GI foods elevate insulin and stimulate excess fat storage on the body.
Keeping body fat and weight low helps diabetics stay healthy and heal better. Eating plenty of non-starchy vegetables and high fiber foods helps in two ways. Low calorie, high fiber foods encourage weight loss, taking longer to digest and reducing hunger. Also, these foods have a low glycemic index, helping keep blood glucose level. Other low glycemic carbohydrates include whole grains, pasta, and rice.
Diabetic diets should distribute calories in the following way: carbohydrates – 50-60%, protein – 12-20%, and fat – no more than 30%. Eating small frequent meals helps appease hunger and maintain blood sugar levels. By following all these general guidelines, diabetics can avoid heart disease, balance glucose levels, and maintain a healthy weight.