best diet for diabetes

Best Diet To Help People With Diabetes

Diabetes can be controlled with diet and alterations in lifestyle. Change in food habits helps to maintain blood sugar levels. These dietary changes can also prevent complications associated with diabetes like kidney and heart-related complications. Controlling diabetes with diet includes eating three meals at regular intervals. It prevents sudden surge in glucose levels by optimal utilization of insulin in the body. The diet should provide all essential elements that are required for the maintenance of level of blood glucose as shown in the table below.

Essential Elements for Glycemic Control

Element Requirement in diet Sources
Manganese 6.10-6.97 mg/dl Shellfish, spinach, pineapple, chickpeas, green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, and black tea
Vitamin B6 1.3 mg/day Meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits
Vitamin C 45 mg/day Guava, Indian gooseberries, spinach, leafy vegetables
Selenium 200 mg/day Whole grains, dairy products, pork, beef, fish, shellfish, chicken
Fiber 22-35 g/day Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds

Diet for Diabetes

1. Healthy Carbohydrates

Based on the physical activity and calorie requirement, you must include healthy carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products with low fats. As the carbohydrates break down into glucose, the inclusion of healthy carbohydrates helps to maintain blood sugar levels at lower levels.

         Benefits of Healthy Carbohydrates

  • Healthy carbohydrates have a lower glycaemic index, so it helps prevent the sudden increase in blood glucose levels after a meal.

         How Much to Consume Healthy Carbohydrates

  • Diabetic people should get half of their calorie requirement from carbohydrates. On average, an individual caloric requirement is 1800 calories per day, so they should have only 200-225 grams of carbohydrates in a day.

2. Fiber-Rich Foods

Fibers are a form of carbohydrate that our body cannot digest. Soluble fibers can dissolve in water and help maintain blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes like beans and nuts are rich sources of fiber.

         Benefits of Fiber-Rich Foods

  • Increasing the intake of fibers in diabetic patients helps maintain glucose levels as they have a low glycaemic index.
  • Intake of fibers also lowers levels of blood cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Intake of fibers decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and obesity.

         How Much to Consume Fiber-Rich Foods

  • Dietary intake of 22-35 grams can improve blood sugar management. 

3. Vitamin-Rich Foods

Fruits, fish cereals, vegetables, beans, eggs, meat, and liver are rich in vitamins. The introduction of vitamin-rich food in the diet of diabetics can have multiple health benefits. Vitamin C is important in various physiological processes of the body. Diabetic patients have decreased sensitivity to insulin. Hence, the glucose metabolism and relaxation of blood vessels that are two functions of insulin get affected. These actions are also controlled by nitric oxide. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C increase the level of nitric oxide. Vitamin B6 acts as a coenzyme for various enzymatic activities in the body. It is required for the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in the body. Decreased levels of Vitamin B6 are associated with diabetes.

         Benefits of Vitamin-Rich Foods

  • Intake of vitamin C in diabetes helps improve insulin sensitivity and the functioning of endothelial cells. These factors help the maintenance of blood glucose levels to lower levels. Vitamin C also helps to reduce oxidative stress in metabolic diseases like diabetes. It also prevents the attachment of excessive glucose to hemoglobin molecules.
  • Intake of Vitamin B6 causes improved maintenance of blood sugar levels. Gestational diabetes shows improvement within the first two weeks of intake of vitamin B6.
  • Vitamin B6 is also beneficial in retinopathy, which is a common complication of uncontrolled diabetes. Vitamin B6 is also known to decrease the binding of glucose to proteins, hence can prevent the negative impact of increased blood glucose on the immune system.
  • In patients with diabetic neuropathy, intake of vitamin B6 helps relieve nerve pain.

         How Much to Consume Vitamin-Rich Foods

  • At least one-quarter of the meal must contain food rich in these vitamins.

4. Fish and Good Fats

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids lower cholesterol levels in the body. Omega-3-fatty acid of fish helps to prevent heart-related complications in diabetics. Fish meal is also a rich source of minerals like manganese and selenium.

         Benefits of Fish and Good Fats

  • Omega-3-fatty acid helps to reduce inflammation and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Manganese helps in the formation of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). This antioxidant helps to fight free radicals and reduce damage to body cells.
  • Selenium is an antioxidant element and protects the body cells from oxidative stress. Selenium helps to prevent the destruction of pancreatic cells that synthesize insulin.

         How Much to Consume Fish and Good Fats

  • Take good fats in small amounts as they are high in calories. Healthy- heart fish should be consumed at least twice a week.
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Sample Meal Plan

  • Diabetics can eat whole wheat bread, eggs, half a cup of cereal, low-fat milk, and fruit for breakfast.
  • Lunch can include wheat bread with leafy vegetables, fish or beans, and fruit like apples.
  • Dinner can include medium wheat bread, 1/2 cup of baked vegetables like beans, carrot, and a cup of milk.
  • Snacks can include nuts, seeds, black tea, and low glycemic index fruits.

Read more about is apple good for diabetes.


Maintaining a healthy diet plan helps keep the blood glucose levels under control. The diet for patients with diabetes must contain essential elements like manganese, selenium, vitamins, good fat, fibers, and healthy carbohydrates. Healthy carbohydrates with a low glycemic index are crucial for maintaining glucose levels, as carbohydrates metabolize to form glucose.

Fiber-rich food also helps to maintain a lower level of blood glucose. It also controls blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Intake of fiber-rich food helps to reduce insulin resistance and chances of cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin C and vitamin B6 are also important in patients with diabetes. These vitamins are critical for the metabolism of glucose. Vitamin C prevents the development of insulin resistance, and Vitamin B6 prevents complications like retinopathy and pain from neuropathy in diabetes. Fruits, fish cereals, vegetables, beans, eggs, meat, and liver, which are rich in vitamins, must be included in the diet.

Vegetables with a low glycemic index are best for diabetes. Healthy fats also help to control diabetes and prevent associated complications. Fish contains omega-3-fatty acids and minerals like manganese and selenium. These minerals are antioxidants and reduce damage by free radicals in metabolic diseases like diabetes. Read more about best vegetable for diabetes.

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