If you have diabetes, your body does not metabolize carbohydrates properly, and you have high blood sugar. A healthy diet is an important part of managing your blood sugar levels and preventing diabetes complications. In moderation, cheese can be a regular part of a sensible diet for individuals with this health condition.
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Cheese and Carbohydrates
Following a healthy diet for individuals with diabetes includes consuming controlled amounts of carbohydrates throughout the day. You might have 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates at your meals, and 15 grams of carbohydrates at snacks. An ounce of mozzarella or cheddar each provides less than 1 gram of carbohydrates. For lunch, you could have a whole-grain wrap with cheese and a large apple. As a snack, you could have blue cheese with walnuts and a small piece of fruit.
Diabetes, Cheese and Weight
Obesity is a major risk factor for type-2 diabetes. If you have type-2 diabetes and are obese, losing weight can help. Cheese is a high-calorie food, so limit your portion sizes. An ounce of cheddar cheese contains 113 calories. Reduce your calorie consumption by selecting reduced-fat or fat-free cheese instead. An ounce of nonfat cheddar cheese contains 44 calories. To promote weight loss, eat your cheese with low-calorie foods. Have low-fat string cheese and grapes for a snack, or melt shredded nonfat cheddar cheese onto steamed broccoli for a side dish.
Cheese and Sodium
One main concern with cheese is its high sodium content. An ounce of cheddar cheese has 174 milligrams of sodium. Individuals with diabetes are already at risk for heart disease and kidney disease, and a high-sodium diet further increases the risk. Those with diabetes should have no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. An ounce of low-sodium cheddar cheese has only 6 milligrams of sodium. To further reduce your risk of heart disease, choose cheese that is lower in both sodium and fat to reduce your consumption of cholesterol-raising saturated fat.
Cheese and other dairy products provide calcium, which is an essential nutrient for building strong bones. Eating dairy products may also help you manage diabetes. According to an article published in the journal “Nutricion Hospitaliaria,” consuming at least three servings of dairy products per day may help improve insulin sensitivity, which improves blood sugar control. Eat cheese to increase your dairy consumption. Melt low-fat shredded cheddar cheese into an omelet for breakfast, make a Greek salad with feta cheese for lunch or have a low-fat cheese stick for a snack.
- American Diabetes Association: Carbohydrate Counting
- National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: Diabetes Overview
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database
- Endocrine Practice: Official Journal of the American College of Endocrinology and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists: Efficacy of High-Fiber Diets in the Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- Nutricion Hospitaliaria: Dairy Products Consumption Versus Type 2 Diabetes Prevention and Treatment; a Review of Recent Findings from Human Studies