Vegetables for Diabetes: Benefits & Meal Tips
Nutrition

Best vegetables for people with diabetes

To reduce the symptoms and keep the blood sugar levels in the normal range, people with diabetes mellitus must consume the right kinds of vegetables. It is not an easy job to identify what vegetables are responsible for spiking your blood sugar levels. Although it is easy to recognize that potatoes are starchy and therefore must be avoided, certain vegetables aren’t starchy but still spike your blood sugar level. Added to that, you must also have a great knowledge of what vegetables are good for diabetics. Being a diabetic you must consume high-fiber vegetables that slow down the digestion process and help to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Such vegetables include beetroot, kale, methi, bitter gourd, Ladyfinger, Carrots, garlic, Lettuce, cucumber Asparagus, Cabbages, etc.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is also called diabetes mellitus, a group of diseases that result in the continuous increasing sugar level in the blood. There are many symptoms of diabetes, such as an increase in thirst, urination or appetite. Diabetes can cause severe and long-term health issues, such as stroke, kidney disease, or eye damage. Diabetes can occur if the pancreas can not produce enough insulin or body cells cannot respond to the produced insulin. 

Based on its causes, we can classify diabetes into two types. Type-1 diabetes occurs if the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin. It is caused due to loss of beta cells. When it occurs in children, it's called juvenile diabetes. This is likely to change in adults. It can be managed by insulin injection. Type-2 diabetes happens when cells do not respond to insulin. It is more common in middle-aged people. It is also called adult-onset diabetes. One of the main causes of this type of diabetes is obesity. Type-2 diabetes can be prevented by a healthy diet, proper exercise, and avoiding tobacco.

Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women. It resolves on its own after the delivery. A survey conducted in 2019 reported that 463 million people have diabetes. The rate of diabetes is the same in both men and women.

Which vegetables are good for diabetes?

People with high blood sugar or diabetes mellitus must follow a diabetes-friendly diet to abate the complications and diminish long-term diabetic problems. But the diet chart for diabetes patients is challenging to make. All vegetables and foods are not suitable for diabetes patients. Therefore, it is important to know which vegetables are good for diabetes. 

Some vegetables can spike blood sugar levels but do not seem starchy. We can easily identify potatoes as a starchy vegetable but not the rest. High sugar content vegetables could worsen the condition, so it should be avoided. Some vegetables can help diabetes patients to enjoy their meals. By eating the correct kind of vegetables, we can manage diabetes. So, let us identify the vegetables good for diabetes Patients. 

  1. Bitter Gourd/ Karela:Bitter gourd or karela is a popular vegetable for people with diabetes. It contains anti-diabetic properties that help lower blood glucose levels. It also includes polypeptide-p, which also helps decrease sugar in the blood.
  2. Methi: The mildly bitter leaves of fenugreek leaves or methi reduce the glucose level in the blood. It is one of the best vegetables for people with diabetes. The seeds of fenugreek absorb carbohydrates and slow down digestion as it contains high fibre and helps to reduce the level of sugar. 
  3. Lady’s finger: Lady’s finger helps to regulate blood sugar levels. The fluid which comes out while cutting it is good for sugar patients. It works on type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.
  4. Carrots: Carrots are full of fibre. They are a good source of vitamin A which is good for the eyes. Carrots also help to control the insulin level in the blood, which makes them a suitable vegetable for people with diabetes. Read more about is carrot good for diabetes.
  5. Kale: Kale is highly nutritious and a versatile element in the kitchen. A half-cup of cooked kale has 18 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates. It also includes all the nutrients from vitamins A, E, and K to zinc.
  6. Garlic: Garlic helps to control high blood pressure. It prevents the development of Arteriosclerosis which causes stroke and heart disease.
  7. Cucumber: Cucumber has high water content. It keeps hydrated and reduces sugar levels in the blood. It is recommended to use as one of the important vegetables for people with diabetes.
  8. Lettuce: Although there are many varieties of lettuce, all are full of water and fibre which keeps us hydrated. Red lettuce helps to clot blood and keeps our bones healthy. Red lettuce contains vitamin K. Other foods can be served over a curtain of lettuce. It helps to slow down their absorption, which controls blood sugar levels. 
  9. Green beans: Green beans contain vitamin C, vitamin A and fibre. It is one of the nutritious vegetables for people with diabetes
  10. Broccoli: Broccoli contains a lot of vitamin C. It is also high in the antioxidants beta carotene that produces vitamin A. It is good for bones and teeth.
  11. Asparagus: Asparagus is also known as sparrow grass. It is a non-starchy vegetable. It is high in antioxidants known as glutathione, which helps cure heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
  12. Zucchini: Zucchini contains many important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Zucchini is packed with a vitamin called B6, which helps to regulate blood glucose.
  13. Cabbages: There is no sugar present in cabbage. Therefore, it's an important vegetable for people with diabetes. Besides, it also helps to reduce blood sugar and increase insulin.
  14. Spinach: Spinach is a vegetable that contains a very low amount of carbohydrates. Low carbohydrate helps to reduce weight and keep blood sugar in check.
  15. Tomato: Tomato comes with a very low GI score, which is known as glycemic index. It helps to release sugar into the blood very slowly.
  16. Mushroom: Mushrooms have a low GI score and little carbohydrates. They do not raise the blood sugar level and weight. It is very helpful for diabetic patients.
  17. Beetroot: Beetroot is rich in phytochemicals which helps in lowering blood sugar and regulating the insulin level in the body. Read more about is beetroot good for diabetes and it's other benefits.

Also read about is sweet potato good for diabetes.

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Which are the best vegetables for type 2 diabetes?

Having a balanced diet is the key to diabetes management. Knowing the correct vegetables to eat for diabetes will help you to manage your daily calorie intake and fulfill the vitamins and nutrient requirements of your body. Here are the best vegetables for diabetes that you must include in your diet.

Broccoli- Packed with fibers and nutrients, broccoli is suitable for a diabetic diet. It contains prebiotic fibers that enhance metabolic processes. Belonging to cruciferous vegetables, broccoli is a good vegetable for diabetes.

Zucchini- High in carotenoids, which is a compound that promotes heart health and prevents certain cancers, zucchini is low in calories and high in fiber which makes it a perfect choice for people with diabetes.

Cabbage- It is full of Vitamin C which is good for heart health. Added to that, antioxidants present in cabbage help to slow down the digestion process and eventually manage blood sugar levels.

Spinach- Green leafy vegetables like spinach should be a go-to for diabetics. Spinach is packed with nutrients and adds fewer calories to your diet. Consuming spinach also aids insulin sensitivity.

Tomatoes- Packed with lycopene, tomatoes help to reduce the risk of heart diseases and make it better to manage blood sugar levels. Tomatoes are also good to add natural sweetness.

Cucumber- One of the best vegetables for diabetes, cucumber contains lots of water which makes its consumption hydrating. Additionally, cucumber is great to reduce inflammation and control blood sugar levels.

Green beans- Consisting of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and lots of fiber, green beans are great for creating a balanced diabetic diet. You can reap many health benefits by adding green beans to your diet.

A few more vegetables such as kale, mushroom, lettuce, Cauliflower, etc. are the best vegetables for type 2 diabetes and an additional benefit is that you can make delicious recipes with these vegetables.

Which are the worst vegetables for diabetic people to avoid? 

Knowing what vegetables not to consume is also essential for effective diabetes management. Starchy vegetables are high in carbohydrates which makes them unsuitable for diabetics. However, you can eat these vegetables at times by pairing them with healthy proteins and fats. Here are a few vegetables that you must avoid or eat in moderation.

Potatoes- Having a high glycemic index, potatoes are not good for diabetes. If you fry potatoes, it increases potatoes' starch content and makes them enter the list of vegetables for diabetics to avoid. At times you can consume boiled potatoes to satisfy your cravings.

Corn- Half a cup of corn contains 21 grams of carbs and only 2 grams of fiber, making them a bad choice for diabetic people. If you want to consume corn, pair it with healthy proteins and fibrous foods.

Butternut squash- If you are consuming restricted carbs then you must avoid butternut squash. A cup of this vegetable has 16 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber which makes it undesirable for diabetics.

Peas- Amongst starchy vegetables, peas are less harmful than others in the category. However, 1 cup of peas has 20 grams of carbs which is not ideal for a diabetic diet.

Vegetable juices- Blending the vegetables makes them lose their fiber which makes them not optimum for diabetics. Instead of vegetable juices, consume whole vegetables rich in fiber.

FAQs

Which vegetables should diabetics avoid?

Though most, but not all vegetables are good for diabetes. A diabetic should avoid vegetables that are high in carbs and starch levels like potatoes, corn, peas, butternut squash, etc. These are not the vegetables that are suited for diabetes. Being a diabetic you should also avoid vegetable juices as they lack fiber. Instead, you should choose to eat whole vegetables. The intake of the above-mentioned vegetables can raise your sugar levels however taking them in indelible quantities once in a while is not severely harmful.

What vegetables worsen blood sugar?

While most vegetables are good for a diabetic person, few must be avoided due to the high quotient of carbohydrates and starch in them. These vegetables are not the best vegetables for diabetes and they include corn, peas, potatoes, butternut squash, etc. If these are consumed by a diabetic person daily in large quantities then they will worsen the blood sugar and cause extreme conditions in the body.

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