Leading health organizations like the American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimate that around 29.1 million Americans suffer from diabetes -- and that another 1.4 million are diagnosed each year. But whether you are newly diagnosed or have been living with diabetes for years, this condition can make you nervous each time you sit down to the table, since this disease is very influenced by your dietary choices.

The good news is, however, that as dieticians and other health professionals learn more about the diabetes process, they have also learned more about which foods are best suited to those who are trying to manage their condition and keep their overall blood sugars in a normal range. And while some people might find that counting carbohydrates or restricting calories to lose weight can help, this doesn't work for everyone. For some diabetics, simply understanding which individual foods are best for them is useful.

Below are foods recommended by leading sites like the ADA and WebMD to help diabetics keep their blood sugars in a normal range and prevent the unwanted complications this condition can cause when it is not controlled:

Whole Grains
The great news is that a diabetic diet does not need to be a grain-free diet - as long as you choose those grains wisely. What you should look for are products like whole wheat pasta and whole wheat bread and bread products as well as products made from brown rice, quinoa, millet and whole grain oats. The complex carbohydrates in these products break down slowly and prevent blood sugar spikes.

Non-Starchy Vegetables

Non-starchy vegetables should be the basis of the typical diabetic meal: they are low in carbohydrates but tend to be high in fiber as well as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Highly recommended for diabetics are veggies like leafy greens (kale, spinach, arugula or romaine lettuce), eggplant, tomatoes, peppers of any color and asparagus. About half of your plate when you sit down to a meal should be taken up with non-starchy veggies like these!

Low-fat Dairy

Because diabetics have a tendency towards heart disease, choosing dairy products that are low in saturated fat is very important. These low-fat dairy products will help prevent the high cholesterol levels that are a major risk factor for events like heart attacks. Best choices include low-fat versions of cheese, sour cream and cream cheese, milk that is 2% or lower, and low-fat Greek yogurt. These products will also help you ward off osteoporosis (a disease which leads to weakened bones and fractures) later on in life.

Lean Proteins

Protein is great for diabetics! It won't spike up your blood sugar, but it will help you to control your appetite, build up lean muscle mass and lose weight. However, as with dairy products, low-fat forms of protein are best. Choose beans (especially chickpeas and black beans which are low on the glycemic index), soy, nuts and seeds and eggs in moderation, as well as fish and poultry.


Many diabetics often get the impression that a truly diabetic-friendly diet needs to be fruit-free. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many leading health sites also recommend a variety of fruits that are low on the glycemic index. These fruits, while containing sugar, do not spike up blood sugar levels and also provide plenty of vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy plant-based chemicals. The best fruits in this category include apples, pears, oranges, strawberries, plums and peaches.

The takeaway here is that a diabetic diet can be full, rich and satisfying -- and can help you to control your blood sugars as well as enjoy healthy, delicious meals based on the foods mentioned above.

Author's Bio: 

Brian values the ability of people of all ages to learn from the power of stories. His mission is to write about health conditions, topics and life situations in an entertaining way in order to help children understand their own health conditions and daily circumstances.

Brian Wu got a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physiology and Neurobiology. Currently, he holds a PhD and is an MD candidate (KSOM, USC) in Integrated Biology and Disease.