When living with diabetes, your dietary decisions hold significant importance. While some food options are more beneficial for managing the condition, others are not as ideal.

Although no food is entirely prohibited, even those deemed as the most detrimental can be enjoyed occasionally, but only in small portions. However, consuming them will not provide much nutritional value, and it’s recommended to prioritize the “best” food choices for easier diabetes management.

Best and Worst Foods List for Diabetes

Selecting healthy food and drink options is crucial in managing diabetes. Below are some recommendations for choosing the best options and avoiding the worst.

1. Starches

Carbohydrates are essential for your body, but it’s important to make wise choices when selecting them. This list can serve as a guide to help you make informed decisions.

Best Choices

  • Whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, or amaranth
  • Baked sweet potato
  • Products created with whole grains and minimal or no added sugar are preferable.

Worst Choices

  • Processed grains, such as white rice or white flour
  • Cereals with little whole grains and lots of sugar
  • White bread
  • French fries
  • Fried white-flour tortillas

2. Vegetables

Go ahead and fill up your plate! By doing so, you’ll consume high amounts of fiber with minimal fat or salt, unless you intentionally include them. Keep in mind that potatoes and corn should be considered as carbohydrate sources.

Best Choices

  • Fresh veggies, eaten raw or lightly steamed, roasted, or grilled
  • Plain frozen vegetables, lightly steamed
  • Vegetables like kale, spinach, and arugula are excellent options due to their nutrient density. However, iceberg lettuce is not as beneficial as it lacks many essential nutrients.
  • Low sodium or unsalted canned vegetables

Incorporate a range of colors into your vegetable intake, including deep greens, reds, oranges (such as carrots or red peppers), whites (like onions), and even purples (such as eggplants). The 2015 U.S. dietary guidelines suggest consuming 2.5 cups of vegetables daily.

Worst Choices

  • Canned vegetables with lots of added sodium
  • Veggies cooked with lots of added butter, cheese, or sauce
  • Pickles, if you need to limit sodium. Otherwise, pickles are OK.
  • Similar to pickles, sauerkraut should be limited if you have high blood pressure.


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