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Best Vegetables for Reversing Diabetes

August 19, 2013

Vegetables add bright colors, flavors and textures to your diet. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, water, dietary fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants and contribute to a healthy diet. Vegetables are generally low in calories and carbohydrates, making them an excellent option for diabetics.

Vegetables fall into two groups: starchy and non-starchy. Starchy vegetables (i.e. potatoes) are higher in carbohydrates and raise blood glucose levels more easily. Non-starchy vegetables (i.e. broccoli) are the best choice for a diabetic meal plan.

Dark Leafy Greens. Rich in calcium, vitamins A, B, C and K, magnesium, iron, protein, potassium and dietary fiber, dark leafy greens are perfect for a diabetic diet. Leafy greens include spinach, kale, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, arugula, mustard or collard greens, romaine lettuce and chard. Each of these vegetables contains approximately 5 g of carbohydrates per serving, with a serving equal to 1 cup raw or a ½ cup cooked vegetables. Eating a mixed green salad before or with your meal is a good way to incorporate leafy greens into your diabetic meal plan.

Allium. Although not brightly colored, members of the allium family are pungent and flavorful. Garlic, onion, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots are allium vegetables known for their antibacterial properties. Containing only 5 g of carbohydrates per serving, these vegetables reduce inflammation, boost immunity and fight off disease. Allium vegetables are best used to add flavor to other foods when cooking.

Bell Peppers. Bell peppers are available in a rainbow of colors, including yellow, red, orange, green and purple. Containing only 3 g of carbohydrates per ½ cup serving, peppers are sweet, juicy and bursting with flavor. Bell peppers are packed with vitamin A and C, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and dietary fiber. Add them to a stir fry, flavor your favorite food with them, grill for a colorful side dish or simply munch on crisp peppers for a low-carb snack.

Cruciferous Vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables contain sulfur compounds that make them pungent and bitter. Sulfur compounds confer potential carcinogen-fighting effects in the body. Cruciferous vegetables include red or green cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke and Brussels sprouts. Cruciferous vegetables provide 5 g of carbohydrates per serving and are rich sources of vitamin C and K, iron, potassium, folate, calcium, dietary fiber and phytochemicals. Eat them raw or lightly steamed

Carrots. Rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, vitamin A, B, C and K, magnesium, folate, and dietary fiber, carrots are bright in color and provide a sweet taste. Carrots are a good choice if you have diabetes as their carotenoid and vitamin A content helps protect your eyes from diabetic retinopathy or damage to the blood vessels in the eye from long-term diabetes. Carrots are a great low-carb, crunchy snack.

Tomato. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a potent antioxidant known to help fight disease. Tomatoes are also rich in potassium, phosphorus, calcium, vitamin A, C and K, folate and dietary fiber. A ½ cup serving of tomatoes is equivalent to 4 g of carbohydrates. Eat them raw, pureed, stewed, juiced or in a sauce; all tomato-based products are low in carbohydrates. When purchasing tomato-based products, be sure to choose “no sugar added” or “low sodium” varieties.

Squash. Squash contains vitamin A, B and C, iron, calcium, dietary fiber, potassium and magnesium. While some varieties of winter squash tend to be higher in carbohydrates, summer squash and zucchini contain just 5 g of carbohydrates per serving. Add color to your stir fry, steam or grill for a low-carb side dish.

Meal Preparation

The vegetables should be eaten fresh, lightly steamed, roasted or grilled.

Avoid canned vegetables because they contain large amounts of sodium. Opt for the frozen vegetables instead.

Avoid boiling the vegetables! Avoid cooking the vegetables with added butter, cheese or sauce. Pickles and sauerkraut are ok only if you do not have high blood pressure.

Usually non starchy vegetables contain about 5 grams of carbs in 0.5 cup cooked or 2 cups raw vegetables. Most of the vegetables in the list below are full of fiber so unless you eat more than 1 cup at a time you may not need to count the carbs at all.

The best vegetables for diabetes:

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Bean sprouts
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Greens (collard, kale, mustard and turnip)
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Water cress
  • Spinach
  • Turnip
  • Mushrooms
  • Celery
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Chilies

And all other green leafy vegetables that are not on the list. When consuming vegetables high in sugars like beets, carbs should be counted.

Vegetables to avoid or eat in small quantities:

  • Beets
  • Corn
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Tapioca
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