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Coleslaw for Diabetics

author image Kathryn Gilhuly
Kathryn Gilhuly is a wellness coach based in San Diego. She helps doctors, nurses and other professionals implement lifestyle changes that focus on a healthy diet and exercise. Gilhuly holds a Master of Science in health, nutrition and exercise from North Dakota State University.
Coleslaw for Diabetics
A bowl of coleslaw on a table with a fork and napkin. Photo Credit: OlgaLepeshkina/iStock/Getty Images

A diabetes diet is designed to help improve your diabetes health by helping to reduce blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as help you maintain a healthy weight. Some types of coleslaw, otherwise known as a cabbage salad, can fit comfortably within a nutritious diabetes diet.

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Nonstarchy Vegetables

In its purest form, coleslaw is comprised of only shredded cabbage, a nonstarchy vegetable. According to the American Diabetes Association, nonstarchy vegetables should make up 1/2 of all of your lunch and dinner meals. A serving of nonstarchy vegetables is 1 cup raw, or 1/2 cup cooked. Eat at least 3 to 5 servings of nonstarchy vegetables every day.


Nonstarchy vegetables are healthy choices on a diabetes diet because they contain very few calories and carbohydrates. They score low on the glycemic index. This means that eating nonstarchy vegetables will probably not cause your blood glucose levels to rise significantly. A 1 cup serving of raw, shredded cabbage contains just 16 calories and In 1/2 cup of raw, shredded cabbage there is only 8 calories and 3.76 g of carbohydrate. Furthermore, raw, shredded cabbage contains 0 g of saturated fat and 0 mg of cholesterol.


Like most salads, coleslaw is generally prepared with dressing, additional vegetables and spices. To keep your coleslaw diabetes- friendly, choose vinegar-based dressings over high-fat creamy dressings and use a variety of non-starchy vegetables. Try preparing an Asian coleslaw with cabbage, carrots, green onions, snow peas, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, fresh lime juice, rice wine vinegar, and fresh ground black pepper. Or make a spicy walnut coleslaw with cabbage, carrots, red onion, Granny Smith apple slices, raw unsweetened and unsalted walnuts, Dijon mustard, spicy paprika, fresh lemon juice and fresh ground black pepper.


Many prepackaged, store-bought coleslaws, or coleslaws you may order in a restaurant are prepared in a creamy mayonnaise-based dressing. These varieties of coleslaw tend to be high in calories and saturated fat, which is why they aren't the best choices for diabetics. For example, 1 oz. of regular mayonnaise salad dressing contains nearly 115 calories calories, 1.25 g of saturated fat, 7.6 mg of cholesterol, and 9,8 g of total fat.

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