If diet is so important for managing diabetes, surely there is one perfect diet that everyone with diabetes should follow, right? The media, the internet, your Facebook feed, and even your Aunt Judy all have opinions about the correct diet for diabetes. So, what’s the answer? Every year, U.S. News surveys popular diets and eating patterns—including keto, Mediterranean, vegan, DASH, and others—and then reviews the scientific evidence to compile their annual list of best diets for diabetes. This year's results may just surprise you.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the most dangerous complications for people with diabetes. In fact, CVD is the leading cause of death in people living with diabetes, resulting in two thirds of deaths in people with type 2 diabetes. And on top of that, people with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke than people without diabetes.
Eat Lots of Color (with Veggies)
Veggies and fruits offer nutrients and minerals that are important to your body and heart health. By focusing on eating a variety of them, you will fill up on nutrient-dense foods. For people with diabetes, it’s important to focus on nonstarchy vegetables because they are low in calories and carbohydrates (carbs). Try these recipes that are rich in veggies and low fat, two key factors to eating heart healthy.
Lemon Raspberry Chia Seed Pudding
Calories: 120 | Fat: 5g
While this is a fruit-forward recipe, it is an easy diabetes-friendly snack that packs in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids from the chia seeds. Fresh raspberries add a pop of color and flavor, but they can easily be swapped for your favorite berry of choice.
Fresh Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Basil
Calories: 130 | Fat: 8g
You can easily use canned or thawed corn for this flavorful dish. Made with a simple and tasty dressing, the salad makes a great lunch. Or, add a form of lean protein like chicken or tofu for a filling dinner. Plus, not only is this recipe heart-friendly, it’s also vegan if you opt out of the chicken.
Sautéed Asparagus, Peppers, and Mushrooms
Calories: 50 | Fat: 3g
Colorful, low-fat, low-carb, and most importantly, delicious! If you don’t like any of the veggies, simply swap them for something else—the choices are endless. Use simple, delicious recipes like this to fill half your plate with nonstarchy veggies!
Go FishOmega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that can help prevent heart disease. Seafood is one of the best sources for getting omega-3 fatty acids into your diet and is most beneficial if you eat fish multiple times a week. Try adding some of these diabetes-friendly recipes that feature omega-3-rich fish like salmon, tuna, and trout.
Budget-Friendly Salmon Burgers
Calories: 150 | Fat: 7g
These burgers are a good way to spice up your menu! They are packed with heart-healthy salmon, plus some veggies. To keep the carb count low, these are served over bibb lettuce instead of a bun.
Avocado Tuna Salad
Calories: 130 | Fat: 5g
Packed with heart-healthy tuna and fiber-rich avocado, this low-carb and diabetes-friendly salad is ready to go in minutes, and at a price that can fit any budget. This is a perfect quick-fix dish with southwest flair.
Baked or Grilled Trout
Calories: 175 | Fat: 9g
This simple fish recipe is seasoned with salt-free lemon pepper and paprika for a low-sodium, heart-healthy protein entrée. If you like it spicy, you could also add a dash of cayenne pepper.
Don’t Be SaltySodium can have a big impact on blood pressure, which can lead to CVD. Monitoring your sodium intake can help prevent heart disease and keep your blood pressure down. Cooking food at home will help reduce how much salt you are getting. However, salty snacks can derail your plans. Here are some low-sodium snacks that are perfect for people with diabetes.
Savory Cauliflower and Cheesy Cakes
Calories: 50 | Fat: 2g
When you are craving something cheesy, try this low-carb snack. Cauliflower adds extra fiber and nutrients and baking gives it a light crunch. You can add garlic powder and/or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes to give them an extra kick of spice.
Green Bean “Fries”
Calories: 90 | Fat: 2g
When you get a hankering for fries, try this green bean version instead! They are a healthier alternative that adds fiber and nutrients without all the carbs, fat, and overload of salt.
Low-Sodium Sugar-Free Pickles
Calories: 15 | Fat: 0g
Pickles you get at the grocery store are usually packed with sodium. Making your own pickles is easy and will keep in the refrigerator for about two months (try making them in bulk!). These take a while to pickle, so make sure to prepare this easy recipe a day ahead of time so they’re ready to go.
Making healthy food choices is an important step towards protecting your body from heart disease and other complications of diabetes. You can use the search and filter options on Diabetes Food Hub by selecting lower sodium options or looking for specific ingredients like fish and seafood.
If you found this article helpful in your diabetes journey, please consider supporting the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The ADA is the leading voluntary health organization fighting to bend the curve on the diabetes epidemic and help people living with diabetes thrive. With your financial support, we can advance our mission to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. Learn more about how you can support the ADA.