When you’re trying to manage diabetes and keep diabetes symptoms under control, one of the most effective steps you can take is following a diabetes diet. Chances are, your healthcare team has already mentioned certain foods you should include in this diet. These recommendations might consist of fruits, vegetables, and certain types of meat.
But have you ever wondered why these food categories could help you fight diabetes? The answer is simple: foods in these groups tend to be “nutrient-dense.” If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of nutrient density, read on for our guide – and a list of nutrient-dense superfoods that can turbocharge your diabetes diet.
What is Nutrient Density?
People can’t eat an infinite amount of food on a given day. That may seem like a fairly obvious statement, but it means that you and everyone else need to make choices about what you eat to get the nutrients you need. Even if two different food items have similar amounts of calories, they could have radically different effects on your overall health. This is the case because they have differing amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
The concept of nutrient density refers to a food item’s nutritional content compared to its calorie count. Highly nutrient-dense foods are packed with vitamins and minerals while containing relatively few calories. On the flip side, foods with low nutrient density have lots of calories but limited nutrients. They also tend to be high in saturated fats and sugars.
Some foods with low nutrient density (more commonly known as “junk foods”) include candy, white bread, chips, ice cream, and soda. Excessive amounts of these foods can wreak havoc on anyone’s diet. Still, it’s imperative to avoid them if you have diabetes since they could make your diabetes symptoms worse. The good news is that many foods with higher nutrient density levels can help you keep your diabetes diagnosis under control.
Try These Nutrient-Dense Foods
Are you looking for nutrient-dense foods to add to your diabetes diet? Your healthcare team can help, but it may be a good idea to consider these amazing superfoods:
Beans and Peas
Beans are delicious, affordable, and packed with nutrients. Focus on eating these types of beans to manage your blood sugar while getting lots of fiber, protein, iron, zinc, and folate:
- Kidney beans
- Pinto beans
- Garbanzo beans
- Lima beans
- Black beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Split peas
Many items in the produce section are great for your health, but few fruits can match blueberries in terms of nutritional value. Though vegetables can have higher levels of vitamins and minerals, these berries make up for this with the antioxidants they contain. Some of these antioxidants can cross the blood-brain barrier, allowing them to protect your brain – studies show that blueberries may boost memory in older people. Furthermore, in another study blueberries appeared to lower obese individual’s with metabolic syndrome their LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. These berries could play a role in fighting cancer, too.
Living with diabetes doesn’t have to mean giving up dessert – especially when you treat your sweet tooth to dark chocolate! When it has a high cocoa percentage and you eat it in moderation, dark chocolate can be much more nutritious than you might think. Studies have shown that dark chocolate is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods! As a result, dark chocolate has health benefits similar to those associated with blueberry consumption. Furthermore, research suggests that eating this chocolate at least five times a week could lower your heart disease risk by 57 percent.
Garlic can do much more than add flavor to your meals. When you add garlic to your diet, you’ll benefit from its high amounts of calcium, manganese, selenium, copper, potassium, and vitamins C, B1, and B6. Meanwhile, it contains sulfur compounds like allicin, which could lower your blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. As if that’s not enough, studies show that garlic has various cancer fighting properties too.
Leafy greens, in general, are great for diabetes management, but nothing beats kale. This veggie is chock-full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and beneficial bioactive compounds. Kale is high in vitamin C, A and vitamin K1. It also contains large amounts of vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese and copper. Kale may be even healthier than spinach because of its lower amount of oxalates. These are substances that can bind to certain minerals in your intestines and prevent them from being absorbed by your body.
You may have heard that fish are a good source of protein for people with diabetes. But that doesn’t mean that all fish are equally nutritious – and salmon is one of the best options out there. This type of fish is exceptionally high in omega-3 fatty acids, and eating it can reduce your risk of certain serious diseases. Along with essential fatty acids and protein, eating salmon will give you many B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and selenium. It is recommended to eat fatty, omega 3 rich fish at least once or twice a week for good health.
Sardines are another type of fish that’s packed with heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also a uniquely nutrient-rich option since they’re customarily eaten whole – including their organs. Because of this, sardines offer small amounts of almost every nutrient you could need. (But be sure to exercise caution when purchasing sardines – canned sardines can be high in sodium. Instead, try to find water-packed sardines with packaging that uses the term “low sodium.”)
Support Your Nutrient-Dense Diet With Diabetes Supplies
Once you’ve built a diabetes diet that focuses on nutrient-dense foods like these, you’ll need to watch your blood sugar levels to make sure it’s working as intended. That means having reliable access to glucose meters, continuous glucose monitors, and diabetes testing supplies. If you need a trustworthy supplier of these items and many others, choose ADS to get the job done!