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10 Diabetes-Friendly Foods for Seniors
When you have diabetes, what you eat matters a lot. Nothing is completely off-limits, but you should opt for certain foods while limiting others to manage your blood sugar levels. Like anyone following a healthy lifestyle, eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and lean protein is important if you have diabetes. Avoid added sugar and sugary foods, starchy vegetables, and refined carbohydrates.
If you or a loved one has diabetes, choose these foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and more.
- Broccoli. This diabetes-friendly veggie helps maintain blood sugar levels and reduces blood glucose, according to studies. Try this Crispy Baked Broccoli recipe or Cream of Broccoli Soup, perfect for fall.
- Dark, leafy vegetables. Think spinach and kale. They’re high in fiber and nutrients like magnesium and vitamin A that help to lower blood sugar. You can incorporate them in salads or pasta, a healthy smoothie, or soup. How about a Powerhouse Kale Salad?
- Berries. They’re diabetes superfoods because they’re packed with antioxidants and fiber. Snack on blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and more in their whole, natural form and avoid adding sugar. Try this Blueberry Crisp recipe, modified for diabetics, Mixed Berry Parfait, or Berry Mango Salad.
- Beans and lentils. Packed with vitamins and minerals like magnesium and potassium, beans and lentils are high in fiber too. Since beans contain carbohydrates, try not to consume too many. Liven up your legumes with a Vegan Black Bean Soup with Lime Salsa or Kidney Bean Salad.
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon. They’re not just good for controlling your diabetes. They help to reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation, too. You can bake, broil, or grill your fish—but stay away from carbs and added calories in breaded or fried fish. Try a Simple Grilled Salmon recipe or Broiled Trout with Almonds.
- Whole grains. The key is the word “whole.” Whole grains are rich in vitamins and minerals like magnesium, vitamin B, chromium, iron, folate (which may help normalize blood pressure), and fiber. Try whole oats, quinoa, whole-grain barley, or farro. Here are a few recipe ideas: 15-minute Low-Carb Oatmeal, Diabetic Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie, Quinoa Burrito Bowl, and Greek Quinoa Salad.
- Nuts. They’re a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, as well as a great snack for reducing hunger. Try a Fruity Nutty Salad, Diabetic Grape Nut Bars, or Trail Mix Hot Cereal.
- Citrus fruits. Have your pick of oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and more. They’re packed with fiber, vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Make this Baked Egg with Avocado, Tomato, and Citrus Salad for breakfast, Crunchy Lemon-Pesto Garden Salad for lunch, followed by Orange Glazed Tilapia with Cilantro Kale & Collard Greens for dinner.
- Good fats like avocados and nut butters. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help lower your cholesterol levels. Consider an Avocado Tuna Salad or a twist on the classic Ants on a Log using dried cherries, celery, and almond butter.
- Tomatoes. Eating vital nutrients like vitamins C and E and potassium are key for people with diabetes. Eat them raw, pureed, or in a sauce. Add this Fresh Tomato Sauce on top of your favorite whole grain pasta.
While you’re at it, avoid the following foods that only increase the risk of heart disease and stroke associated with diabetes:
- Saturated fats like high-fat dairy products and animal proteins like butter, beef, sausage, and bacon
- Trans fat found in processed snacks, baked goods, and margarine
- Cholesterol in high-fat dairy products, animal proteins, egg yolks, liver, and other organ meats
- Sodium—aim for less than 2,300 mg per day
You can find more diabetic-friendly foods and recipes on our partner Johns Hopkins Medicine’s website. Enjoy!