Diabetes Prevention

15 Healthy (And Delicious!) Foods to Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes for Your Clients

Realizing DPP
October 12, 2022

There are so many factors to consider when working to prevent Type 2 diabetes. However, for people with prediabetes, diet is among the most important factors when it comes to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. 

As a Realizing DPP lifestyle coach, you already know how important diet is, but believe it or not, you can show your participants that choosing a healthy diet doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. In fact, there are so many delicious foods that your participants can incorporate into their diets that not only work toward Type 2 diabetes prevention but that are downright delicious as well! In addition to these perks, eating these healthy foods will also help your participants keep their weight off. 

We know not every person with diabetes or prediabetes carries extra weight, but whether or not they need to lose weight does not cancel out the many benefits of maintaining a healthy diet. When there’s such a simple (and tasty) solution to helping prevent Type 2 diabetes, why wait? In this article, we go over 15 of the healthiest and most mouth-watering foods for your participants to eat to lower blood sugar and prevent Type 2 diabetes.

Best Foods for Diabetes Prevention

Unfortunately, there’s no magical cure for diabetes, but that doesn’t mean your participants can’t reduce their risk of developing the disease. As we know, much of an individual’s risk factor lies in genetics, but healthy lifestyle habits such as a healthy diet and regular exercise can work wonders for at-risk individuals. 

Thankfully, the foods we’ve put on this list not only reduce risk but they taste wonderful and are easy to incorporate into your participants’ daily diets. Additionally, many of these foods double as blood sugar-lowering tools as well as diabetes prevention.

1. Nuts

Consistently elevated blood sugar is one of the diabetes risk factors, and the more refined carbohydrates you consume, the more unstable your blood sugar gets. Encourage your participants to snack on protein and fat-rich foods such as almonds to stave off carbohydrate cravings and keep them satisfied until supper. In addition, nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fats, which have been associated with a reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

2. Oatmeal

With four grams of fiber in a one-cup serving of oats, consuming a bowl for breakfast will keep you full for an extended period of time and may even prevent you from nibbling before lunch. A recent study indicated that those who ingested more than 26 grams of fiber per day reduced their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 18 percent compared to those who consumed the least amount of fiber (less than 19 grams daily). Fiber also helps maintain constant blood sugar levels, which may reduce the chances of developing diabetes.

3. The Power of Vegetables

Although all veggies should be included in your participants’ diets, green and non-starchy vegetables are especially important for preventing diabetes. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts supply the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly (and also deliver fiber). 

In addition to their fiber content, cruciferous vegetables include sulforaphane, an anti-inflammatory chemical that may protect against diabetes-related blood vessel damage and aid in blood sugar regulation. In addition, spinach is an excellent source of magnesium, which assists the body in using insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.

Broccoli sprouts are rich in glucosinolates such as glucoraphanin, which have been demonstrated to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels in individuals with Type 2 diabetes when taken as a powder or extract. Additionally, cruciferous vegetable consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Remember that the best strategy to increase the availability of sulforaphane is to consume raw or gently steamed broccoli and broccoli sprouts or to add active sources of myrosinase, such as mustard seed powder, to cooked broccoli.

4. Fruits 

In addition to offering an abundance of vitamins and minerals, daily consumption of fruit reduces the risk of acquiring Type 2 diabetes. Since a high-fiber diet has been shown to minimize the incidence of diabetes, your participants should prioritize high-fiber fruits like apples (with the skin!), berries, and citrus fruits. 

Numerous studies have established a correlation between berry consumption and improved blood sugar regulation. Berries are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them an ideal option for individuals with blood sugar control concerns. In fact, adults with prediabetes who consumed 2 cups (250 grams) of red raspberries with a high-carbohydrate dinner had considerably lower levels of post-meal insulin and blood sugar than the control group. 

In addition to raspberries, research suggests that strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries may be beneficial for blood sugar management by raising insulin sensitivity and enhancing glucose elimination from circulation.

5. Lentils and Beans

Beans and lentils are loaded with minerals such as magnesium, fiber, and protein that can assist in lowering blood sugar levels. They are especially rich in soluble fiber and resistant starch, which prolong digestion and may enhance blood sugar response following meals.

In research involving 12 women, the addition of black beans to a rice meal significantly decreased post-meal blood sugar levels in comparison to eating rice alone. Numerous other studies have demonstrated that consuming beans and lentils can not only improve blood sugar regulation but may also help prevent the development of diabetes.

6. Chickpeas

Legumes, such as chickpeas, are extremely adaptable and excellent for lowering the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Not only are they chock-full of fiber, which will help regulate your blood sugar, but they're also loaded with protein, which will keep you full and prevent you from snacking, which is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes.

7. Avocados

Avocados are not only creamy and delicious, but they may also be beneficial for blood sugar balance. They are rich in healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and it has been proven that including them in meals reduces blood sugar levels. Avocados may help reduce blood sugar levels and guard against the development of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of diseases that increases the risk of chronic disease, including high blood pressure and high blood sugar.

8. Eggs

Eggs provide a concentrated source of protein, good fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them an extraordinarily nutritious food. Several studies have also connected egg eating to improved blood sugar management. In a study of 42 persons who were overweight or obese, had prediabetes, or had Type 2 diabetes, consuming one big egg per day was associated with a substantial 4.4% reduction in fasting blood sugar as well as improvements in insulin sensitivity.

9. Yogurt

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that yogurt's health benefits, particularly its ability to prevent diabetes, are generally supported by scientific data. Yogurt is rich in calcium and high-quality protein, and while it does include sugar, the sugar in plain yogurt is entirely natural. Active culture yogurt also contains probiotics, which promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

If your participants have been avoiding dairy products due to lactose intolerance, they may be shocked to learn that some lactose-intolerant individuals may tolerate a small amount of yogurt. Suggest Greek yogurt first, as it has less lactose. Choose plain yogurt over flavored yogurt to avoid added sugars and artificial sweeteners, and opt for fat-free yogurt to reduce calories.

10. Kimchi and Saurkraut

Consuming fermented foods, such as kimchi and sauerkraut, has been linked to increased blood sugar and insulin sensitivity. These foods are loaded with health-promoting elements such as probiotics, minerals, and antioxidants.

In a study of 21 adults with prediabetes, consuming fermented kimchi for eight weeks increased glucose tolerance in 33% of participants, but only 9.5% of patients who ate fresh kimchi showed improved glucose tolerance.

11. Chia Seeds

Consuming chia seeds may aid with blood sugar regulation. In studies, consumption of chia seeds has been associated with reductions in blood sugar levels and improvements in insulin sensitivity. The results of 17 animal studies published in 2020 concluded that chia seeds may enhance insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control as well as minimize illness risk, including diabetes risk.

12. Okra

Okra is a fruit that is typically consumed as a vegetable. It contains polysaccharides and flavonoid antioxidants that reduce blood sugar levels. Due to their significant blood-sugar-lowering qualities, okra seeds have long been utilized in Turkey as a natural treatment for diabetes.

The primary polysaccharide in okra, rhamnogalacturonan, has been found as a potent anti-diabetic agent. In addition, okra includes the flavonoids isoquercitrin and quercetin 3-O-gentiobioside, which assist in lowering blood sugar by blocking specific enzymes.

13. Flax Seeds

Flaxseeds are well-known for their health advantages, including high fiber and healthy fat content.

Specifically, flaxseeds may assist in lowering blood sugar levels. In an eight-week research study including 57 individuals with Type 2 diabetes, those who ingested 7 ounces (200 grams) of 2.5% fat yogurt containing 1 ounce (30 grams) of flax seeds per day had significantly lower HbA1c levels than those who consumed plain yogurt.

14. Pumpkin

Brightly colored and rich in fiber and antioxidants, pumpkin is an excellent food for regulating blood sugar. In fact, pumpkin is a traditional cure for diabetes in many countries, including Mexico and Iran. Polysaccharides, which have been examined for their blood-sugar-regulating ability, are abundant in pumpkin. In both human and animal research, pumpkin extracts and powders have been proven to drastically reduce blood sugar levels.

15. Water

Don’t roll your eyes! We know that water is not technically a food, but it is a nutrient — and a vital one at that. Importantly, researchers have discovered an abundance of evidence associating it with a reduced risk of diabetes.

Water is naturally energizing, and because it contains no calories, drinking it instead of caloric beverages such as juice may aid with weight control. Since sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda, sports drinks, and sweetened coffee drinks, are independently associated with higher diabetes risk, your participants may reap double the benefits if they select water over these alternatives.

 What About Meat?

That’s all delicious and enticing, but what about the meat-lovers out there? There’s good news and bad news. New research reveals a probable link between cooking meat at high temperatures and Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers from the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health discovered that frequently preparing beef and chicken with high-heat cooking methods (such as broiling, barbecuing/grilling, and roasting) increased the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Based on data from three large cohorts followed for 12 to 16 years, including more than 289,000 men and women from the Nurses' Health Studies and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, researchers discovered that those who consumed the most meats and chicken cooked at high temperatures were 1.5 times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who consumed the least.

In addition, regular users of high-temperature cooking methods had an increased risk of weight gain and obesity, which may have contributed to the development of diabetes. Notably, this study indicated that cooking methods may contribute to diabetes risk in addition to meat consumption.

Further, this research advises that when cooking meats, poultry, or fish, it may be preferable to avoid high-temperature cooking methods such as grilling or barbecuing and instead opt for moderate-temperature cooking methods such as stir-frying, sautéing, boiling, or steaming.

Staying on the Bright Side of Diabetes Prevention

Let’s not hide the obvious — eating delicious food is one of the best parts of life. We all love a tasty treat now and again, and it's important that your participants gain enrichment in their lives even when fighting for diabetes prevention. Don’t let your participants get down about their dietary restrictions. Instead, show them how delicious foods that are proven to reduce blood sugar levels, keep weight off, and prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes can be! As a Realizing DPP lifestyle coach, you hold the power to improve your participants' lives! 

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