All kinds of articles pop up about “superfoods.” It can be hard to understand what a superfood can do for you. “The term “superfood” has become so widespread that it has an entry in the Merriam_Webster dictionary: ‘A food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health.’”1
Type 2 diabetes superfoods
When you have diabetes, choosing foods that boast the term superfood can be very beneficial. Let’s check out a few of them!
Legumes, also known as beans and peanuts, are great superfoods for everyone. “...they’re rich in key nutrients like iron, potassium, zinc and folate. And an abundance of fiber- both the heart-heatlthy soluble type and the digestion-friendly insoluble type- make legumes especially filling, with long-lasting satiety that can help with weight management. Research shows that when people with diabetes eat legumes regularly, they tend to have better blood sugar control and lower rates of heart disease.”1 So how can you incorporate more legumes into your diet? Here are a few examples:
- Peanut butter on celery sticks
- Black bean burgers
- Chickpea and vegetable stir fry
- Green beans as a side to a chicken dinner
- Edamame for a snack
- Chili made with kidney beans and ground beef or turkey
Although antioxidants aren’t a type of cuisine, they are found in many different foods and their benefits are astronomical. Antioxidants help to prepare our immune cells when illness hits, as well as repairing them after. You can see why loading up on them is a great idea for anyone! Plants are extremely rich in antioxidants and a good rule of thumb is choosing bright-colored foods to obtain the most antioxidants. There are a few caveats such as cauliflower and shallots so don’t discount a food based on its color. Instead, try to include all of the colors when choosing fruits and vegetables. Here are a few ways to incorporate more antioxidants into your daily meals:
- Change your morning caffeinated beverage to green tea
- Add berries to your oatmeal for breakfast, or salad for lunch
- Make it a point to have a dark, leafy green salad with dinner each night
- Swap your afternoon snack for a few handfuls of raw vegetables such as carrots, celery, yellow peppers, or tomatoes
Complex carbohydrate choices
When you have diabetes, choosing what, when and how many carbohydrates to eat can be difficult. Choosing whole grains, as well as whole starchy vegetables, are the best options not only for your health but also for satisfying your hunger. Your goal should be to consume 25 to 38 grams of total fiber each day. Sources of whole grains are bread with “whole grains” listed as the first ingredient, as well as quinoa, farro and brown rice. Instead of white pasta, try a whole wheat-based one, or even one made from vegetables or chickpeas. Opt for baked potato or baked sweet potato over potato chips or French fries. Here are a few examples to incorporate complex carbohydrates into your daily meals:
- Peanut butter on a whole-grain English muffin for breakfast
- Add quinoa or barley to homemade vegetable soup for lunch
- Try stuffing a baked sweet potato half with lean ground turkey, broccoli, and cheese
If you have specific questions about your diet, be sure to reach out to your physician or diabetes care team.
What are your go-to snacks when managing type 2 diabetes?