Lists and Tips

Diabetes Shopping Lists

  • Shopping List for Diabetics

    Jessica Cooper, HHC, AADP, Health Supportive Chef and Nutrition Educator

    Finding out that you or someone you love has diabetes is a life-changing moment.  Keeping blood sugar in check is essential to keeping diabetes under control.  Food can be a powerful tool in lowering blood sugar.  Below is a list of great food choices that naturally stabilize blood sugar levels.  When selecting foods to eat, you will want a balance of high fiber fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and lean proteins.  Foods high in fiber are also particularly important as they lower blood cholesterol levels and slow the absorption of sugar.

    Best fruits: Apples, Raspberries

    The old cliché “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” certainly has some truth to it. Apples have been proven to be very effective in treating diabetes due to the amount of pectin, a valuable source of soluble fiber that can lower bad cholesterol and help regulate blood sugar.   Although apples have some sugar (fructose), they also contain about 5g of fiber and a rich blend of nutrients, which helps the body detoxify itself and get rid of many harmful toxins.

    Raspberries are a high-fiber powerhouse with a pharmacy of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K.  They are low in sugar and high in antioxidants, which help to ward off toxins and carcinogens. 

    Healthy Fats: Avocado, Olive Oil & Nuts (especially Almonds, Walnuts and Pecans)

    Avocado, yes it may be high in fat, but it is high in monounsaturated fats, which are generally considered among the healthiest of fats. Researchers have found that a diet high in monounsaturated fats and low in low–quality carbs may improve insulin sensitivity. Monounsaturated fats also improve heart health — an especially important benefit for diabetics, who are at an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.

    Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, which can help decrease the risk of heart attack and has been shown to help maintain stable blood sugar levels by reducing insulin resistance.  Olive oil is also a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation, a key factor in diabetes.

    Almonds, Walnuts and Pecans contain protein, fiber, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin E & virtually no carbohydrates so perfect snack for diabetics and those with blood sugar issues.  Nuts provide steady, slow-burning energy all day without any blood sugar spikes after meals.  Just be sure to control the portion of nuts as they are very high in fat.  A little goes a long way.

    Best vegetables: Non-starchy Vegetables & Dark Leafy Greens

    Chock-full of vitamins, minerals, calcium and fiber, non-starchy vegetables are an ideal source of high-quality carbohydrates. Because these low-calorie, nutrient-dense veggies have a low-impact on blood sugar, they're an integral component of your diabetes food plan.   These vegetables are a good source of the mineral chromium, which helps regulate blood sugar and insulin as well as helping to reverse damage caused by diabetes to heart vessels.  The key compound called sulforaphane found in vegetables protects the blood vessels, which is important for diabetes as this factor increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.  For most people (including those looking to lose weight), this is one food group that's okay to eat as much as you like!  Best examples of this are Green Beans, Mushrooms, Spinach and Broccoli.  

    Some dark leafy greens that are notable are Purslane & Dandelion.  Purslane’s omega-3 concentration is the highest among any leafy green vegetable.  They have about the same amount as flaxseeds and fish oil.  Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-infammatory, heart-healthy fats that are beneficial in diabetes. 

    Dandelion contains inulin, a naturally occurring type of soluble fiber known to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels. 

    Herbs & Spices: Cinnamon, Garlic, Turmeric, Parsley, Chilies.

    Historically, herbs & spices have been used to add unique flavors to foods.  Fortunately, most herbs & spices used for culinary purposed have a laundry list of biological effects on human health.  Not only do these spices make food delicious, they also come from plants whose traditional use has included acting as medicinal remedies for treating and preventing human disease for years.  Spices & herbs, which contain phytochemicals, are a natural means of preventative health care and a great way to get a “phytopharmacy” into our kitchens. 

    Cinnamon is an amazing food for diabetics - it contains MHCP, which helps your fat cells to more efficiently do their job of responding to insulin by reducing glucose in the blood. This regulates blood sugar.  To include it in your diet, just sprinkle it over your oatmeal, tea or coffee. 

    Garlic has been used throughout history for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Garlic is a natural antibiotic, which means when you have a cold, it can act as a decongestant and expectorant in addition to its antimicrobial benefits such as combatting bacteria, intestinal parasites and viruses.  It also contains important components such as allyl propyl disulphide (APDS), allicin and flavonoids that decrease blood glucose levels and stimulate the pancreas to release insulin.  

    Parsley not only freshens the breath, it also freshens and purifies the whole system.  The chlorophyll in parsley has been shown to reduce blood glucose and protect the liver.  

    Turmeric, whose main active ingredient is curcumin, can be effectively used to treat diabetes as it has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, which is a risk for diabetes.  

     

    Chilies contain vitamin C, carotenoids and antioxidants that may help regulate the hormone insulin.  Additionally, they help rev up your metabolism which helps with digestion so if you like a little kick, knock yourself out!

    Best breakfast food: Oatmeal

     While diabetics are often cautioned about carb intake, oatmeal is a very good food for any diabetic, provided it is unsweetened. Oatmeal has plenty of soluble fiber and takes a while to digest, meaning that it will not cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels. This stabilizing effect on blood sugar is persistent with regular oatmeal consumption.  For breakfast, top oatmeal with some chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds to add protein and healthy fat, which stabilize blood sugars further. Plus, the nuts add great crunch and flavor to your morning meal.

    A must have in a diabetic diet: Protein (Beans, Fish, Lean Poultry, Eggs, Tofu, Tempeh)

    Protein is essential for regulating blood sugar levels.   Go for lean proteins like fish, beans, tempeh and tofu and eggs.

    Beans are one of the best sources of fiber on the planet and the ultimate blood sugar regulator. Beans (including lentils, black, white, navy, lima, pinto, garbanzo, soy, and kidney) are a winning combination of high-quality carbohydrates, lean protein, and soluble fiber that help stabilize your body's blood-sugar levels and keep hunger in check.  The soluble fiber in beans influences the rate by which glucose is absorbed.  They raise blood sugar very, very slowly, which improves the regulation of blood sugar and insulin. 

    Another outstanding source of lean protein is fresh fish. Choose an environmentally friendly variety that is high in omega-3 fats, which help with glucose and insulin metabolism as well as reducing inflammation.  Great sources are cold-water, fatty fish like sardines, tuna, cod, and wild salmon.  Prepare them healthfully by baking, grilling, or roasting. Pair fish with the high-quality carbs found in vegetables, lentils, or beans for another balanced meal combination that will keep your blood sugar from rising.  Wild salmon or sardines are not only rich in omega 3s but also contain a healthy-fat-and-protein combination that slows the body's absorption of carbohydrates, keeping blood sugars on an even keel.

    Organic eggs:

    are rich in high-quality lean protein and low in carbs, egg whites are another healthy choice for controlling or preventing type 2 diabetes. One large egg white contains about 16 calories and 4 g of high-quality, filling protein, making egg whites a perfect food for blood sugar control, not to mention weight-loss or maintenance.