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List of Foods Good for Pre-Diabetics

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
List of Foods Good for Pre-Diabetics
Whole grain bread with jam. Photo Credit: joannatkaczuk/iStock/Getty Images

Pre-diabetes is a condition marked by blood sugars that are higher than normal but not too high to be diagnosed with diabetes. Most people with pre-diabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders. If you have pre-diabetes, the best way to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes is to lose 5 to 7 percent of your current body weight by following a healthy diet. A healthy diet consists of a variety of foods from each of the food groups.

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Grains and Starches

Grains and starches make up an important part of your diet for pre-diabetes. The amount you need depends on your age, sex and activity level but varies from about 6 to 8-oz. a day for most adults over the age of 19. For health and weight management, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends you make at least half of your grain and starch choices whole-grain. A whole-grain food has more fiber than a refined grain food. Fiber in food takes longer to digest helping you to feel satiated longer. Good grain and starch choices for pre-diabetics include whole wheat bread, whole-grain cereal, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, whole-grain crackers, pretzels, oatmeal, quinoa and popcorn.


Fruits provide vitamin A, vitamin C, folate and potassium. For pre-diabetes try to eat 1-1/2 to 2 cups of fruit a day. To help with weight control, eating the whole fruit is a healthier choice than drinking the juice because of its fiber content. Good fruit choices for pre-diabetes includes apples, oranges, bananas, pears, peaches, plums, grapes, cherries, melons, berries, dried fruit, unsweetened canned fruit and juice without added sugar.


Vegetables make a good choice for pre-diabetes weight loss because they are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends 2 to 3 cups of vegetables a day. In addition to helping you lose weight, high intakes of vegetables will help prevent heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, according to the USDA. Good food choices include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, green beans, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, peppers, zucchini, kale, tomatoes and asparagus.

Meat and Beans

Meat can be a source of calories and fat in the diet. To limit your calorie intake for pre-diabetes weight loss, choose more lean cuts of meat such as poultry without the skin, fish, shellfish, ham, pork loin, beef tenderloin and lean ground meat. Eating more meat alternatives, such as beans, can also help you reduce your calorie and fat intake. In addition to being a good source of protein, beans also contain high amounts of fiber and folate. Most adults need 5 to 6 1/2 oz. of meat and beans a day.


Milk can also be a source of fat and calories, so choose low-fat and nonfat milk and dairy foods for calorie-control. Most Americans do not get enough calcium in their diets and the USDA recommends three servings or cups of milk a day. A serving is equal to 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1-1/2 oz. of natural cheese or 2 oz. of processed cheese. Good milk choices for pre-diabetes includes skim milk, 1 percent fat milk, nonfat or low-fat yogurt and nonfat or low-fat cheese.


Oils are a concentrated source of calories and intake needs to be limited, especially when trying to lose weight. Most adults need 5 to 7 tsp. of oil, according to the USDA. Oils are low in saturated fat and make healthier choices than fats, like butter. Good oil choices for pre-diabetics include olive oil, vegetable oil, safflower oil and canola oil. Nuts, seeds and avocados are naturally high in healthy oils and also make good choices in small quantities for pre-diabetics.

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