Diabetes Care: The Best High-Fiber Foods For People With Diabetes
Finding healthy snacks isn’t always easy, and it can be even more difficult if you have diabetes. This is primarily due to people with diabetes wanting to choose nutritious snacks that won’t cause their blood sugar levels to drop or rise too much.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 1 in 10 people have diabetes while 1 in 3 have prediabetes, a condition that indicates the possibility of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
So, when looking for snacks, nutritionists say that people with diabetes should look for foods with
- High-fiber foods help to control blood sugar.
Protein: Snacks with protein help to reduce spikes in blood sugar after eating.
Unsaturated fats: These are considered healthy fats because they improve blood cholesterol levels, among other things.
Phytonutrients: These are natural compounds found in fruit, vegetables, whole grain products, and legumes that function as antioxidants, which helps to prevent inflammation and boost immune health.
The good news is that many foods, including the following nine snacks, are rich in fiber and healthy nutrients that people with diabetes can enjoy and health and wellness professionals recommend:
1. Chia Pudding
Fiber-rich chia seeds are great as a snack all by themselves because they promote heart health, intestinal health, and help reduce cholesterol levels. If you want a bonus from chia seeds, then try chia pudding. “If you’re looking for a high-fiber snack that will keep you satisfied for hours and help lower your blood sugar, then adding chia pudding to your snack rotation is a must,” Dani Lebovitz, a certified diabetes care and education specialist told EatingWell. According to Leibovitz, author of Where Does Broccoli Come From? A Book of Vegetables, the soluble fiber in chia seeds slows digestion, prevents blood sugar from spiking, and may improve insulin resistance.
You can shake up your morning breakfast routine with EatingWell’s tasty chia pudding recipe that includes chocolate and raspberries.
2. Roasted Beans
Chickpeas, soybeans, and fava beans are good sources of protein and versatile enough to become a crunchy, sweet or salty snack when roasted. According to Steph Magill, a registered dietitian nutritionist, these beans are high in soluble fiber: 6 grams of fiber and 3 grams of soluble fiber in a half-cup. What’s more, you can season beans any way you want. For a boost of flavor, Lisa Andrews, a registered and licensed dietitian, suggests seasoning chickpeas with a dusting of cinnamon and turmeric. “Both have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may help with complications of diabetes,” Andrews told EatingWell.
Popcorn gets a thumbs up from the American Diabetes Association because it’s a whole-grain food and rich in fiber. One-quarter cup of popcorn kernels has around 7 grams of fiber, which count toward meeting the daily fiber recommendation of 25 to 30 grams, according to Mackenzie Burgess, a registered dietitian nutritionist and recipe developer at “Cheerful Choices”. It turn out that you don’t have to eat unseasoned popcorn. Burgess told EatingWell that she enjoys making four-ingredient chocolate popcorn by shaking freshly popped kernels with chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and a touch of salt.
4. Popped Sorghum
Sorghum is a whole grain that has a number of nutrients, including fiber and antioxidants, both of which can help in regulating blood sugar levels.
People may not realize that sorghum can work as an alternative to popcorn. “Instead of snacking on popcorn, popping grains of sorghum results in a satisfying snack that doesn’t get stuck in your teeth like the OG movie-time snack can do,” Lauren Manaker, a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Now, LLC. told EatingWell.
If you make a list of healthy but underrated foods, chances are prunes would be on the list. Prunes, however, have many good qualities. One serving of prunes contains three grams of natural fiber to help support steady blood sugar levels and digestive health, according to Erin Palinski-Wade, a registered dietician and author of 2-Day Diabetes Diet. If you don’t want to eat prunes whole, Palinski-Wade recommends pureeing prunes and using them as a sugar substitute in baked goods.
Packed with vitamins, rich in fiber, and a good source of carbs and protein, oats are among the most healthiest foods for people with—or without—diabetes. Oats, which are known to lower cholesterol and blood sugar, are also versatile. Besides the traditional cooked oatmeal breakfast, you can combine oats with bananas and make muffins or mix oats with peanut butter to make energy bars. “They make a great anytime snack, and packets of instant oats can be taken anywhere,” Magill told EatingWell. “Choose varieties that do not have added sugar.”
People with diabetes have low antioxidant levels, according to a 2019 study in Advances in Food and Nutrition Research. And, eating strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries will help boost those levels.
“Out of all the different kinds of fruit, berries are one of the most blood-sugar-friendly due to their high fiber content and low glycemic effect. One cup of berries, for example, will pack 5 grams of fiber for just 15 grams of total carbs!” Caroline Thomason, a registered dietician, told EatingWell. More specifically, raspberries have the highest amount of fiber; one cup can provide 9 grams of fiber.
Study after study confirms the superpower of nuts: They are low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, packed with protein, and a good source of healthy unsaturated fats. It doesn’t matter if they’re almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios or pecans, nuts stave off hunger between meals while supplying iron, vitamin E, zinc, and magnesium. You can also season nuts (but not with sugar) to boost their flavor. For instance, Molly Snyder, a registered dietician nutritionist, told EatingWell, “To spice up or change the flavor of your almonds, add cinnamon and sugar, cocoa powder, ranch powder, salt and vinegar or Parmesan cheese,” If you don’t want to eat nuts in their raw form, try nut butter, which you can use as a dip for sliced apples, strawberries or unsweetened banana chips.
It goes without saying that apples have all the good stuff that can benefit people with—and without—diabetes. For example, apples have fiber as well as prebiotic fiber which may boost gut health. While apples come in many varieties, Manaker recommends Envy apples. “Envy apples provide 3 grams of fiber per serving along with antioxidants and a satisfying crunch and flavor,” Manaker told EatingWell. What makes Envy apples so appealing is that their flesh stays whiter for longer, making them a great snack option for people who don’t love eating sliced apples that are slightly browned.”
If you have diabetes, the type of snacks to eat will depend on a number of factors, including your health history, insulin use, and eating habits. The website, EatingWell.com, has a variety of recipes for making healthy snacks. However, to determine the best snacks for you, talk with your primary care provider, registered dietitian or a certified diabetes educator to develop a customized meal plan that meets your needs.