Adding These 9 Foods to Your Diet Slashes Diabetes Risk, Experts Say

The American Diabetes Association says to put more of these on your plate.

When it comes to fighting diabetes, a healthy diet is a crucial tool. Make the right choices, and you can bring your blood sugar levels under control—make the wrong ones, and you can send them soaring.  Luckily, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has shared a list of "superfoods" that are believed to bolster your health if you have type 2 diabetes or are at risk of developing it. "The list of foods below are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that are good for overall health and may also help prevent disease," the ADA writes. Read on to find out which nine foods are considered best for fighting diabetes, and what they each bring to the table.

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Beans are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium and potassium. They're also packed with protein and low in saturated fat, making them an excellent alternative to many types of meat and a healthy choice for those concerned about diabetes. Just make sure that if you buy your beans canned, they don't come with added sodium, the ADA warns.

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Dark Green Leafy Vegetables

Kale, Best Foods for Maximizing Your Energy Levels

Dark leafy greens are some of the very best foods for your health, nutrition experts say. Whether you go for kale, collard greens, spinach, or arugula, each packs a punch of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, E and K, iron, calcium, and potassium.

Citrus Fruits

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Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C, not to mention fiber, folate, and potassium. "Some studies have shown that vitamin C may help decrease levels of fasting blood sugar, triglyceride, cholesterol, and inflammation," reports Very Well Health, adding, "It may even improve insulin resistance." However, their experts add that "too much vitamin C, especially from supplements, may be harmful."


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Berries are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, potassium, and fiber, making them a healthy choice for dessert in lieu of more sugary snacks. A 2019 study published in the journal Food & Function found that "they can reduce risks of several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes."

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Farm worker showing a bunch of tomatoes

The American Diabetes Association recommends tomatoes as part of a diabetes-fighting diet because they're full of vitamin C, vitamin E, and potassium. They're known to have a low glycemic index (GI) score, meaning they release sugar into the bloodstream slowly, helping to avoid a blood sugar spike.

Fatty Fish

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Shutterstock/Maria Uspenskaya

The ADA also suggests eating fish that's rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, herring, or trout. In fact, if you already have diabetes, they advise having at least two servings per week of this nutrient-dense food. Not only will this help fight type 2 diabetes, it can also "reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation," the organization says.


Brunette model hand holding glass hermetic pot with mix of nuts.

When you feel full, it's easier to make healthier food choices instead of snacking on junk food. That's exactly why nuts are an important part of a diabetes-fighting diet. By having just one ounce of nuts, you should better be able to manage your hunger, allowing you to make healthier decisions about what else you put on your plate. Additionally, they're full of fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and magnesium.

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Whole grains

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Though in general it's best to avoid excessive carbohydrates if you have diabetes, eating whole grains is encouraged. According to the ADA, they are rich in vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, B vitamins, chromium, iron, fiber, and folate. The health organization suggests whole oats, quinoa, whole grain barley, and farro, in addition to choosing whole grain bread over other types.

Milk and Yogurt

A bowl of fresh yogurt on a table with a wooden spoon

When it comes to dairy, it's important to avoid saturated fat, added sugar, and carbohydrates. But if you focus on lower fat options and skip the sweetened varieties, yogurt and milk can help you maintain a healthy diet, the ADA says. "Vitamin D may also regulate glucose homeostasis by stimulating insulin release from pancreatic B-cells. Therefore, the correction of vitamin D deficiency may result in improved glucose control and has beneficial effects on complications of diabetes type 2," says a 2014 study on the subject.

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Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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