Diabetes is a major American health crisis--more than 29 million people
suffer from the disease, while an estimated 86 million more are considered
prediabetic, which means their blood sugar levels are near dangerously
high levels. But the simple act of eating a healthy diet is a major way
of keeping diabetes at bay. Eating well keeps weight in check, lowers
blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and reduces blood cholesterol and
triglycerides, which are all risk factors for diabetes. If you're
looking to change your diet and reduce your risk for diabetes, here are
some healthy food swaps you can make.
1. Instead of: Bagels | Try: Whole-grain toast
The refined carbs in white-flour bagels (and other "white" foods
such as pasta and white rice) cause insulin and blood sugar levels to
shoot up, which is a danger sign for diabetes. Whole grains take longer
to digest and don't cause those surges, plus they have more nutrients
for a healthier overall diet.
2. Instead of: A mocha latte | Try: Black coffee
Flavored coffee drinks are popular, but those sweet flavors can contribute
to diabetes risk, thanks to the added sugar, calories and fat that can
lead to weight gain. If black coffee is too strong for your taste, opt
for low-fat milk. If you need a bit more sweetness, you can add a sugar
substitute, but use caution. A non-nutritive sweetener doesn't add
carbs or calories to your diet, but research shows that zero-calorie sweeteners
may actually make you crave more sweet flavors, which can lead to weight
gain. Also, studies have suggested some long-term health concerns associated
with artificial sweeteners. Stevia, a natural non-sugar sweetener, may
be a good option to try but it's best to consult with your doctor
before using any type of sweetener if you have diabetic concerns.
3. Instead of: A burger | Try: A bean burrito
Research studies have linked animal protein, such as red meat, with an
increased diabetes risk. Beans, meanwhile, are better for your health
as a good plant-based source of protein as well as heart-healthy, weight-controlling
fiber. Add veggies and avocado (for healthy fat) and wrap it in a whole-grain
tortilla for a filling and wholesome meal.
4. Instead of: A bag of low-fat cookies | Try: A handful of berries
Sure, the label may say those cookies are 100 calories, but these processed
foods are bad for people at risk of diabetes because of the added sugars,
plus manufactured snacks are more likely to have trans fats and artificial
ingredients. Fresh berries are nutritious and delicious--sprinkle them
with a dash of cinnamon, a spice that has the capability of lowering blood
5. Instead of: Potato chips | Try: Kale chips
When it comes to potato chips, the old ad slogan says you can't eat
just one--so it's best to not eat any at all, since they come loaded
with calories, saturated fat and extra sodium, which is bad for the heart
and the waistline. Instead, kale chips are simple to make at home by roasting
the leaves in the oven. They're also a near-perfect food to prevent
diabetes, thanks to a low number of carbs and calories, and a high level
of nutrients and fiber.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.