If you have diabetes and you're wondering what you can drink, you may have heard about string bean juice. While the American Diabetes Association (ADA) says that water is always the best drink for diabetes, vegetable juice from whole veggies can be a good diabetes diet smoothie too. A bean of truth:
There is no evidence that string bean juice has any special benefits for diabetes, but there's nothing wrong with getting more veggies, Joy Ashby Cornthwaite, RD, CDE, certified diabetic care and education specialist at UT Physicians, University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, says.
"Simply introducing any one vegetable, without attention to lifestyle behaviors as a whole, is unlikely to prove beneficial. So, if you like green beans, by all means, puree them into a juice in their entirety, then add your choice of other items, including healthy carbohydrate, protein and healthy fats," she says.
What Should You Drink?
The ADA says the best drink for diabetes is water, because hydration is important. Here are some other options:
- Sparkling water.
- Infused water, or water with a piece of fruit, vegetable or herb.
- Black and unsweetened coffee or tea.
The ADA says that other drinks like juices and milk are good in moderation.
What About Whole Vegetables?
"Vegetables as a food source and as a part of a healthful nutrition plan provide low-calorie, high-volume sources of a variety of essential vitamins and minerals to promote healthy body processes and reduce chronic disease risks," Ashby Cornthwaite says.
Whole vegetables have important minerals like potassium, vitamins A and C and folic acid. Folic acid contributes to healthy red blood cell production, while antioxidants in vitamins A and C keep eyes, skin, gums and other tissues healthy. Antioxidants also battle against infection and potentially damaging substances, Ashby Cornthwaite says.
One thing whole vegetables have that is lost in vegetable juice is fiber. "Dietary fibers are critical in maintaining blood pressure, protecting GI health, reducing cholesterol levels and protecting cardiovascular health," Ashby Cornthwaite says.
She also says that whole vegetables are an important source of hydration. "People living with diabetes have an increased risk of complications related to elevated blood glucose levels. Hydration is often a concern, due to the role of water in reducing blood glucose via urination," she says.
And String Beans?
Under dietary guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, green (string) beans are classified among a subgroup of veggies labeled "other vegetables." This category includes onion, iceberg lettuce, celery and cabbage.
String beans are not part of the "starchy vegetables" subgroup, which includes green peas, corn and white potato, per the dietary guidelines. Nor are string beans included in the "beans, peas, lentils" subgroup, USDA says, because they are harvested before reaching maturity and their nutrient content is not the same as dry beans and peas, like dry or canned beans and lentils.
According to the Defeat Diabetes Foundation, green beans are low on the 0-to-100 glycemic index scale, which rates carbohydrates by how much they spike blood your blood sugar. The Foundation says that green beans (aka string beans or snap beans), with an index of 32, are good for diabetes because they are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidant-rich phytonutrients that may have anticancer properties.
Juicing for Diabetes
Although whole vegetables are best, juicing vegetables is a healthy option. Ashby Cornthwaite offers these juicing tips for a vegetable smoothie:
- Start with a whole vegetable that you like.
- Make 75 percent of the smoothie from vegetables.
- Juice the whole vegetable, raw or cooked, leaving as much pulp as possible for fiber.
- Add unsweetened or lightly sweetened liquid, such as coconut water or almond milk.
- Add a whole food protein like Greek yogurt, high-protein milk or kefir. Other options are plant-based protein powders.
- Add whole fruit for sweetness, not volume — about 30-40 grams of carbs. Consider lower glycemic index fruits, like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or kiwi.
- Add healthy fats for texture and flavor, such as avocado, nuts or seeds.
- Add spices or extracts for flavor boost and personalization, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, almond, vanilla extract, vanilla seed or cocoa powder.
Read more: 10 Smoothies That Won't Spike Your Blood Sugar
- American Diabetes Association: “Best Beverages for People With Diabetes”
- Joy Ashby Cornthwaite, MS, RD, LD, CDE, certified diabetes educator, University of Texas Health Science Center, UT Physicians, Houston
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025"
- Defeat Diabetes Foundation: “Green Beans”
- USDA: "Why Are Green Peas and Green (String) Beans Not in the Beans and Peas Vegetable Subgroup?"