Superfoods for people with diabetes

By: Dr. Joey Shulman

© Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©


Superfoods for people with diabetes

By: Dr. Joey Shulman
Today, more than nine million Canadians live with diabetes or pre-diabetes. In fact, it is estimated that diabetes is a contributing factor in the deaths of approximately 41,500 Canadians each year.

When discussing diabetes, there are two categories to consider: type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes) and type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that stops the body from producing insulin. This disease process accounts for only 10 per cent of all diabetics.

About type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and occurs when a person's body either does not produce enough insulin or develops a resistance to insulin (that is, they no longer feel their insulin response).

In addition to having a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes, being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle are major contributors to developing the disease.

One of the key approaches to controlling and even helping to reverse type 2 diabetes disease involves selecting and eating the right foods. It is critical to choose carbohydrates that don't spike blood sugar, as well as lean proteins and essential fats that help to stabilize blood sugar and promote weight loss.

The following is a list of suggested superfoods that are healthy choices for people suffering from type 2 diabetes.

6 superfoods for people with diabetes

1. Almonds
Raw almonds offer the perfect mix of monounsaturated fats and magnesium, a mineral that has a role in carbohydrate metabolism. A deficiency of magnesium may worsen insulin sensitivity. Other sources of magnesium include Swiss chard, pumpkin seeds and spinach.

2. Avocados

In addition to being rich in vitamin E, avocados are also chock-full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Research has shown that diets filled with monounsaturated fats and low in starchy carbohydrates are associated with greater insulin sensitivity -- ideal for those who have type 2 diabetes.

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3. Beans
In addition to being loaded with vitamins and minerals -- including B vitamins, calcium and iron -- black beans, lima beans, chickpeas and lentils are rich in fibre and protein, and therefore do not fluctuate a person's blood sugar.

The soluble fibre found in beans also helps to reduce low-density lipoprotein ("bad cholesterol"), which can be a cardiac risk factor.

As an added benefit, beans are quite filling and can be helpful for weight loss and weight management. Toss beans into a salad or use them as a spread or in a soup. Beans are a wonderful superfood for the diabetic diet.

4. Cold-water fish
Cold-water fish, such as salmon, tuna and cod, are rich in lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Both protein and fat act as brakes that slow the entry of sugar into the bloodstream, which is an ideal scenario for type 2 diabetics.

Protein also triggers the secretion of a hormone called glucagon, which elicits fat loss. Cold-water fish have also been shown to be very beneficial for those who have arteriosclerosis (the hardening of the arteries) and heart disease.

5. Non-starchy vegetables
Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms, are nutrient-dense, calorie-light foods and are optimal for those who have type 2 diabetes. In addition to having very little effect on blood sugar, non-starchy vegetables are great "fill-me-up" foods that can be snuck onto the "free list" of foods that type 2 diabetics can enjoy as often as they like.

6. Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a wonderful source of both soluble and insoluble fibre, and is therefore categorized as a superfood for those who have type 2 diabetes. When selecting oatmeal, you should avoid the instant oatmeal that is found in individual packages. This type of oatmeal actually spikes blood sugar and contributes to weight gain. Instead, try slow-cooking oatmeal, such as Irish or steel-cut oats.

Dr. Joey Shulman is the founder of the highly successful Shulman Weight Loss Clinics. Her latest release, The Metabolism-Boosting Diet (HarperCollins, 2012), is in stores everywhere. For more information, visit

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Superfoods for people with diabetes