May 20, 2024

What makes a food “super”? When it comes to type 2 diabetes, it’s not just about foods that pack lots of nutrients. For a diabetes-friendly diet, you also need foods that will help keep your blood sugar (glucose) levels in check. There is no one single best food for type 2 diabetes. Instead, the best diet for type 2 diabetes is one that is based on whole foods and is rich in fiber, protein, and a moderate amount of healthy carbohydrates.

It’s true that people with type 2 diabetes need to watch their carb intake, but they don’t have to follow a fad low-carb diet. On the contrary, says Leah Kaufman, RD, CDCES, a dietitian nutritionist at NYU Langone Health in New York City, the best diet for people with type 2 diabetes is “a well-balanced diet that has a healthy amount of carbs, protein, healthy fats, and vegetables per meal.”

RELATED: 12 Popular Low-Carb Diets, and Their Pros and Cons

While changing your diet won’t cure diabetes, it can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes complications, such as heart disease, kidney disease, and neuropathy (nerve damage). Keeping your blood glucose in check is extremely important, and food can play a big role in that effort. In fact, the food you eat affects type 2 diabetes in several ways, including glucose regulation, heart health, weight maintenance, and mood.

How can you tell a good food from a bad one when it comes to managing diabetes? “Look for items that contain healthy fats and are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber,” says Sue McLaughlin, RD, CDCES, at Burgess Health Center in Onawa, Iowa. It’s also crucial to eat a wide variety of foods to make sure you’re getting a healthy mix of macronutrients, phytochemicals, and essential fatty acids.

RELATED: 10 Bad Habits to Kick When You Have Type 2 Diabetes

Researchers are also continuing to find evidence of links between diet and type 2 diabetes development. One study looked at the impact of nutrition in more than 64,000 women for 15 years. Researchers found that eating antioxidant-rich foods significantly lowered type 2 diabetes risk. Increasingly, such antioxidant-rich foods are being called superfoods.

“Superfoods is a term used to describe nutrient-packed foods that may have more health benefits than other foods,” says Kaufman, adding it’s not a medical term.

You’ll also find that, when it comes to diabetes, superfoods are all whole, unpackaged foods — meaning they aren’t processed with added sugars, fats, or preservatives.

Unsure where to start? Check out these 11 tips for adding more superfoods to your diabetes diet!

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