Millions of people around the world are battling diabetes. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), diabetes affects approximately 422 million people worldwide and kills 1.6 million people each year. Insulin levels play a significant role in diabetes. The pancreas produces a hormone that carries glucose from the food into your cells for energy. Diabetes affects our body’s ability to make enough insulin and use it well, hence glucose stays in the bloodstream.
It is a severe condition, but it can be managed by thoroughly examining the food choices containing vegetables and keeping the blood sugar levels on check. The glycemic index (GI) is a tool used when deciding which foods to include in your diet. GI measures how much and how quickly a food raises your blood sugar levels when taken.
Importance of Vegetables in Diabetes
There is no exaggeration in saying that vegetables play an essential role in your daily diet. They provide us with all the vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals our body needs. Experts suggest consumption of vegetables is very beneficial for your health if taken in the right quantities. But people who have diabetes should not consume all vegetables.
There are a few vegetables that can cause a rise in blood sugar levels when you have diabetes. So there is a particular need to choose suitable vegetables to be a part of your diet. By including them in your diet, not only you can manage diabetes but also get an array of health benefits like easy digestion, weight loss, healthy functioning of the heart, and reduction of bad cholesterol.
In this article, you will get aware of the best and worst vegetables for your blood sugar when you have diabetes.
Best Vegetables for Diabetes
Carrots have a good amount of beta carotene, fibre, vitamin K1 and A, potassium and antioxidants. It has a GI of 16 which makes it an excellent choice for a diabetic patient. According to a study, the nutrients in carrots are beneficial for people with type 1 diabetes. In addition, dietary fibre intake might help reduce the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.
Broccoli is rich in nutrients like iron, vitamin C, fibre, protein, calcium, selenium and magnesium. It has a compound called ‘sulforaphane’. It helps to reduce hepatic glucose production and has anti-cancerous properties as well.. According to a study, sulforaphane decreases hepatic glucose production. It thus reduces blood glucose levels, and it also has anti-cancer properties.
Low in calories and high in nutritional value, lettuce is a superfood to include in your diet. It contains iron, vitamin C and antioxidants. In addition, it improves overall health by reducing inflammation and boosting immunity levels. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends lettuce as a healthy diet for type-1 and type-2 diabetes.
Cucumber has high water content, making you feel full and hydrated. Therefore, it can help lower and control blood sugar levels because hormones help beta cells in the pancreas produce insulin. Also, it has a low glycemic index, which is 14. You can eat it raw, in the form of salads and in pickles too.
5. Okra or Lady’s Finger
Okra is one of the low glycemic index vegetables (17-20) having a high amount of nutrients like rich in potassium, vitamin B and C, folic acid, fibre and calcium. The high fibre content in okra links diabetes management and promotes better glycemic control and insulin sensitivity. You can eat okra stir-fried, baked, and as a delicious gravy dish.
6. Bitter Gourd
Most people don’t prefer to have a bitter gourd in their diet because of its taste. However,it is one of the excellent vegetables for those who are suffering from diabetes.. In addition, evidence suggests that bitter gourd has incredible results in lowering blood sugar levelsIt contains a compound called polypeptide -P (insulin-P) which helps one to regulate insulin levels.
High fiber content in radishes makes is one of the best vegetables for diabetics.It helps in controlling blood sugar levels.It can be added to a vegetable blend and can be made into delicious soups.
Beans are known for their richness in protein and soluble fibre. It keeps you full for longer durations. It also helps to maintain blood sugar levels in diabetic patients and also aid to wight loss.
Beetroot is low in carbohydrates and rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytonutrients. These can help control diabetes. Also, natural sugar does not convert to glucose. So it is suitable for people with diabetes. In addition, beetroot is high in antioxidant lipoic acid. So it will reduce the problems caused by cell ageing.
Tomatoes are one of the best sources of lycopene which makes it good for improving heart health. They are perfect for the heart. They also reduce the risk of heart problems in people with high blood pressure and diabetes. It is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium and low in carbs. Calories are also low. These are good for people with diabetes.
Whether you add it in a salad, throw them in sandwiches or prepare gravy curry, cauliflower is a fantastic choice for diabetes management. It is a rich source of fibre, vitamin C, and folate while low in calories. The high fibre content in cauliflower reduces stress on your digestive system and helps to reduce spikes in blood sugar.
It is an excellent vegetable to add to the diabetes diet plan. It is well known for its richness in iron and copper. Apart from this, it also contains potassium, which is essential to treat diabetes. In addition, other elements like calcium, phosphorus, and manganese which helps to regulate blood pressure.
Cabbage is one more best option if you want to keep your blood glucose within the range. It is a rich source of fibre with lower calorie count. Still, it can do wonders for diabetes as it has proven antioxidant and antihyperglycemic properties.
A simple way to have cabbage in your diet is to add it as a side dish at least twice a day. If you don’t want to keep it as a side dish, use it in salads, dals or soups to get those benefits.
Vegetables to Avoid in Diabetes
Keep in mind that there are no strict rules or limits to any veggies, and at the same time, no vegetable is bad for diabetes. But you need to follow a tricky diet plan to regulate blood sugar levels.
Both sweet potato and potato are rich in starch and contain more carbohydrates than green vegetables. The GI of normal baked white potatoes is 111 and sweet potatoes are 96. Both of these are high GIs, it makes it clear that eating only these may cause disturbance in your blood sugar levels. If you wish to do these you can have them in little quantities with a lot of fibrous vegetables to reduce the overall GI of the food. Avoid processed food items prepared with potatoes like potato curry, french fries, and potato chips.
If you have diabetes, peas should be taken in minimal quantities. But regular intake in large amounts is harmful to you. For example, 100 g of peas contains approximately 14 grams of carbohydrates.
Even though corn is a rich source of fibre, protein, and minerals, there should not be a high intake. It is a high-calorie vegetable. It has a glycaemic index of 46, which falls under low GI foods. On the other hand, snacks like popcorn and corn flakes have a high GI of 65 and 81, one should keep a bare minimum amount of these in your routine diet.
It might surprise you because green juice is incredibly healthy, and veggies are the best choice to fill diabetes meal plates. Still, they are not suitable for diabetes in the form of liquid. Why? Because when you get them as juice, you lose the fibre content present in them. So no matter what veggie you choose on your plate, enjoy it as a whole.
What are Other Healthy and best Diabetic-friendly Foods to Include in the diet?
Apart from vegetables, you may include many other diabetic-friendly foods in the diet. If you have diabetes, you must focus on low GI value, high in fibre and nutrients and low calories. Here are some of the fibre-rich foods for diabetes.
Eating a low glycemic index diet can help control blood sugar levels. For example, eating an apple is very good for your health. However, this is because apples contain fibre and vitamins, with no fat in them.
Almonds are also suitable for preventing diabetes. Regular intake of almonds is perfect for health. They are high in magnesium. So taking it will prevent blood sugar levels from rising. Almonds are also rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, proteins and fibre. These keep blood glucose levels under control. So include almonds in your diet regularly. It will keep you healthy.
Turmeric not only has anti-inflammatory effects but is one of the super foods for diabetes too.. So, people with diabetes should use turmeric more in the food preparations they regularly make.
It has antimicrobial properties which helps to prevent many types of infections. It heals not only internal wounds but also external wounds. Turmeric is also widely used in Ayurvedic medicine.
Chamomile tea has many benefits including anti-cancerous properties, blood sugar regulation and calming effect. Experts have found that people who take chamomile regularly have lower blood sugar levels. You can take it at any time of the day but the best time to take it would be at bedtime.
It also improves skin colour. Consumption of chamomile tea removes pimples and acne scars. It also helps to fight insomnia.
Blueberries are also a fantastic choice for good health. They help to keep you away from heart-related problems. People who take two cups of blueberries a day are less prone to heart diseases. This is because they are rich in fibre. The same goes for other nutrients.
Vitamin C and antioxidants are rich in blueberries. You can pick them in any way and dip them in unsweetened yoghurt. Or you can make something like a smoothie. No matter how much you eat, you will see good results. So keep taking this regularly.
The Bottom Line
Diabetes is a chronic disease that has a significant impact on your health. Hence, it will help if you adopt a healthy lifestyle to fight efficiently with diabetes. To have a healthy lifestyle, you must choose healthy food options that do not spike blood glucose levels and interrupt insulin sensitivity. Vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, asparagus, beans, beets are some of the best to add to your plate of meals. They are low in carbs and starch while rich in nutrients, fibre, and vitamins. Another essential thing to keep in mind is the glycemic index. Therefore, no matter which food you choose to enjoy, make sure that it should be in limited portions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Are starchy vegetables bad for diabetes?
A. Practically, no vegetables are bad for diabetes, even if they contain a high amount of starch. However, it would help if you took them in limited quantities and club them with low GI vegetables. For example, if you have diabetes, limit starchy vegetables to half a cup instead of one full cup.
Q. What vegetable lowers blood sugar?
A. Vegetables that are rich in fibre, nutrients, protein helps to lower blood sugar. These include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, green leafy vegetables and okra. You can also have cucumber, tomatoes, radish, asparagus, and pumpkin.
Q. What foods can diabetics eat freely?
A. Diabetics can eat all foods but need to stick to limited portions. They should have non-starchy vegetables like carrots, broccoli, leafy vegetables, beans, and tomatoes and fruits like grapes, oranges, papaya, apple, and berries. They can also go for low fat or skimmed milk products and bakery pudding-like cookies without sugar.
Q. Are carrots OK for diabetics?
A. If you have diabetes, you can add carrots to your plate without hesitation. It is a good source of fibre, vitamin K1, vitamin A, beta carotene, antioxidants and potassium. In addition, it helps in lowering blood glucose if you eat carrots regularly.
Q. What veggie spikes blood sugar?
A. Regular intake of starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes spikes blood sugar levels. In addition, processed foods like potato chips, corn flakes, popcorn, French fries have a high Glycaemic index compared to raw potatoes and corn. Hence avoid those foods to control blood sugar levels.
Q. Is cabbage good for diabetes?
A. Cabbage is the best diabetic-friendly vegetable because it is low in starch and high in fibre. Filling up your plates at least twice a week with cabbage is preferable to lower the risks of diabetes. You can add them to salads, sandwiches, and on top of pizzas if you don’t like to eat them as a whole.