To prevent the long-term complications associated with chronically elevated blood sugar levels with diabetes, it is important to choose the foods that will help you keep your blood sugar levels within target. The American Diabetes Association recommends your blood sugar levels be between 70 and 130 mg/dL before eating, and these levels do not go beyond 180 mg/dL two hours after eating. Foods containing carbohydrates, such as grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, fruits and sugar, are responsible for raising your blood sugar levels after their consumption.
Cheese does not contain any carbohydrates, with the exception of cottage cheese and ricotta cheese, which contain small amounts, or about 3 to 4 g per 1/2 cup serving. Cheese is a good source of protein and calcium. Cheese makes a great snack that won't raise your blood sugar levels and is a good way to add extra protein to your breakfast.
Meat, Poultry and Fish
A healthy diabetes meal plan should include an adequate source of protein at each of your meals. Lean meat and poultry constitute good low-fat options, while fish, eaten two to three times a week, can provide you with the omega-3 fatty acids your body needs to stay healthy and to prevent cardiovascular diseases. These protein sources are free of carbohydrates if you avoid the ones that are breaded or served in a sweet sauce.
Olive oil is a good source of heart-friendly monounsaturated fats, which constitute the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil does not contain carbohydrates and will not directly influence your blood sugar levels. Use regular olive oil for cooking your vegetables and protein and select extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling over your salad.
Nuts and Nut Butter
Nuts contain small amounts of carbohydrates, most of them being fiber, and therefore have a modest effect over your blood sugar levels. Cashews are the starchiest of all nuts and are not the best options with about 9 g of carbohydrates per ounce. Stick to other nuts and limit your serving size to about 1 oz., or 1 to 2 tbsp. in the case of nut butter to avoid affecting your blood sugar levels. Avoid sugar-coated nuts and select natural unsweetened nut butter.
Nonstarchy vegetables contain small amounts of carbohydrates, but most of these carbohydrates are fiber, which explains why they have little impact over your diabetes control. A diet rich in nonstarchy vegetables can actually help you better manage your blood sugar levels. Include broccoli, leafy greens, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, turnips, cauliflower, bok choy, onions, mushrooms or asparagus at most of your meals to boost your fiber and antioxidant intake without compromising your blood sugars.
Flaxseeds are rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Adding 1 to 2 tbsp. of ground flaxseeds to your diet will not only not raise your blood sugar levels but can actually help blunt the blood sugar level's rise normally experienced after eating. The type of fiber in flaxseeds are mainly soluble and have the property of reducing your blood sugar levels as well as your blood cholesterol levels.