5 Surprising Foods that Help Fight Diabetes

Are you bored with sugar-free candy, low carbohydrate pasta, and endless chicken dinners? Having diabetes does not mean that your diet should be boring. In fact, it should be the opposite. Variety keeps your palate interested and ensures that you get a healthy balance of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants.

The following 5 foods may or may not be a regular part of your diet, but each has a positive effect on diabetes management and prevention. Experiment with some of the “try this” options below for an easy way to incorporate these foods into your meals.

Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a humble snack. They often sit on the shelf overlooked because of the hoards of positive press that almonds and walnuts get. Almonds and walnuts are very healthful nuts, but sunflower seeds are also full of important vitamins and minerals.

Some of the nutrients in sunflower seeds that make them unique are copper, vitamin E, selenium, magnesium, and zinc. The presence and combination of so many of these nutrients can be hard to come by in common foods.

Sunflower seeds have about 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein in an ounce of kernels. The best part is that sunflower seeds, while high in total fat (about 14 grams), contain mostly polyunsaturated fat, which researchers believe is the best type of fat to combat diabetes.

Try this: Swap out your peanuts for sunflower seeds. Or hunt down a jar of sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter for an easy way to get your fix.

Salmon boasts numerous health benefits. It’s a great source of protein that is low in saturated fat and has important omega-3 fatty acid for excellent heart health. The combination of omega-3 and polyunsaturated fats in salmon keeps blood pressure down and protects the heart from disease.  Research also shows that omega-3 fatty acid helps increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin in women.1

Salmon is so versatile and easy to prepare; it makes a great weeknight dinner. You can even buy salmon already cooked in some supermarkets for a quick dinner.

Try this: Season a filet of salmon with garlic powder, freshly ground pepper, and a pinch of salt and put it under the broiler for about 10 minutes until it browns up nicely. Alternatively, open a can of wild salmon to use instead of tuna in sandwiches or salads.

Vinegar has all sorts of hidden health benefits. Research has shown that vinegar has an antiglycemic effect on individuals with diabetes.2 Translation: after eating a high carbohydrate meal, vinegar helps to reduce blood glucose concentration, keeping blood sugar from spiking.  Not only that, but regular intake of vinegar can decrease the risk of heart disease, which is associated with diabetes.

Try this: Instead of a creamy salad dressing, try drizzling balsamic vinegar and olive oil onto your salad. Or add some balsamic vinegar to your chicken marinade for a tangy kick.

Black Beans
Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart.... they’re also a perfect food for diabetics.

Beans are a wholesome source of complex carbohydrates and fiber. When you count carbohydrates, every gram matters. Black beans have nearly 8 grams of fiber per half cup. That means that you can subtract the fiber from the carbohydrates and get about 13 grams of carbohydrates for a 1/2-cup serving.

Fiber in black beans also slows down the absorption of glucose into the blood, which keeps blood sugar levels stable. The combination of fiber, protein, and carbohydrates in beans keeps you full, regular, and energized.

Try this: Open a can of black beans, rinse, drain, and add to salad, soup, or salsa.

Oatmeal is Mother Nature’s perfect gift. It is loaded with soluble fiber, which turns into a gel in the body and sucks out bad cholesterol. Any kind of oat product—oatmeal, oat bran, oat flakes—will have a similar effect to reduce cholesterol and guard against heart disease. This gel, called beta-glucan, helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and combat diabetes.

Try this: add 1/3-cup dry oatmeal to about 3/4-cup plain, low fat yogurt. Mix in a bowl and let sit in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, toss in some fresh blueberries and enjoy an effortless bowl of homemade muesli.