The best foods to add to a diabetic diet

Diabetic patients often crib that they cannot eat anything. Many new studies have found out foods that are healthy and apt for diabetic patients. These foods are easily available are tasty and help in controlling diabetes. Why not learn to eat healthy?

There are a lot of things that diabetic patients, in India, do wrong. Foremost among them are not going to a dietician for an individualistic diabetic diet plan and not seeing an endocrinologist. An endocrinologist and dietician can actually work together to formulate the right approach to control and overcome the symptoms of diabetes. The number of people I find, in online forums, asking for suggestions on what can be eaten by diabetic patients' amazes me.

Keeping the above in mind I have compiled a list of foods that are safe, healthy and help in controlling diabetes. The foods listed below have remarkable properties that can control diabetes and medical conditions linked to the disease. All foods on this list suit the Indian palette; they are easily available all through the year, at your local grocery store and to top it are affordable.

Bitter gourd (Karela)

Bitter gourd is one of my favourite vegetables. Most people hate this vegetable, but I love its bitter taste – for most, it is actually an acquired taste. According to Ayurveda bitter gourd is an elixir for people suffering from diabetes. Use the vegetable liberally, every day if possible, and watch your blood sugar levels drop. The vegetable helps in attaining encouraging sugar levels by quashing the longing for sweet taste.

Karela is nutrient rich with copious amounts of beta carotene and iron. It is a good source of calcium and potassium and contains Vitamins B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3 and Vitamin C. The vegetable also has the mineral phosphorous. Additionally, it is an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fibre.

Diabetic patients can include the vegetable in their diet in any form, but consuming juice extracted from the unripe vegetable works best. It helps in regulating insulin levels effectively. Researchers have identified several compounds in the vegetable that have blood sugar lowering abilities. The big plus is that it has fewer known side effects on the body, than insulin.

Cinnamon (Dalchini)

Cinnamon is a commonly used spice in Indian cuisine. The spice is obtained from the bark of a tree. Daily intake of a few grams of cinnamon powder can greatly reduce serum glucose levels in a diabetic patient. Moreover, regular ingestion of cinnamon powder also affects the LDL cholesterol levels in diabetic patients.

1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder can be taken after every meal to control diabetes. Patients of diabetes may also flavor their milk or tea with the spice. The powder can be sprinkled over breakfast cereals or chopped fruits.

Fenugreek (Methi)

Methi is quite a versatile product and it can be used in various forms to curb the effects of diabetes.

Methi seeds, known as 'methi dana', are mustard yellow seeds that can be mildly roasted, powdered and added to food. The seeds can also be used as a tempering and during the frying of masalas. Alternatively, 1 teaspoon of methi seeds can be soaked in a glass of water, overnight, and the water had the first thing in the morning. The soaked seeds can also be eaten, for better control over the disease. For variety the seeds can be sprouted in a damp muslin cloth, and used in a salad.

Fresh green methi leaves can also stabilize glucose levels. They can be cooked in a variety of ways – with baby potatoes, with corn kernels, with pulses, with saag (mixed greens), with soya granules, with chicken, fish or goat meat etcetera. Freshly chopped methi leaves can also be added to flour, while kneading the dough. Puree methi leaves and add to dough for flavourful methi pooris.

Dry methi leaves is called kasoori methi. This can be substituted for fresh methi when out of season.

Soya Beans

Soya beans in any form are known to lower sugar levels in the urine. Further, the presence of the compound lecithin in soya products prevents neurological complications in diabetics.

Soy products provide copious amounts of proteins, zinc and calcium. Soy can be had in different forms. The best way to eat it is as whole soya beans. The beans can be sprouted as well. In addition to this soya flour can be added to regular whole wheat flour in the ratio of 1:4. Soya milk and beverages, tofu, edamame (green soya beans), roasted soy nuts, soya granules and nuggets are all good for diabetic patients.

Basil (Tulsi)

Tulsi is well regarded in Indian culture. Its benefits are plenty and it is often referred to as a wonder herb. To control blood sugar levels patients of diabetes can chew 5-6 leaves of tulsi, along with 6 peppercorns (kali mirchi), the first thing in the morning. Regular use of these two ingredients can be very beneficial in controlling blood sugar.

Guava (Amrood)

Guava, the poor man's apple is an excellent product for controlling diabetes. The fruit is available in plenty and is quite cheap too. Guavas are naturally rich in Vitamin C and iron. They have exceptional anti-oxidant property and also aid in digestion.

An average sized fruit is packed with soluble and insoluble fibres that keep the blood stream clear of bad cholesterol. Guava can be had alone as a snack or added to a fruit salad. Guavas can also be made into a dish to be eaten with roti. Guava and methi cooked in achari masala make for a healthy, yet tasty dish.

You can make a chutney with guava that can be eaten with roti/chappati/paratha/poori or as a dip with whole wheat crackers. It is simple and can be made in a jiffy. Follow this recipe for a yummy tangy chutney. You'll need:
  • 1 -2 Ripe, chopped guavas
  • 4-5 Green chillies
  • A few sprigs green coriander
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp zeera powder
  • Juice of 1 lime/lemon or 1 tbsp mango powder

Put all the ingredients in a blender and make a chutney. Add a little water, if needed.
(Post a request for more recipes in the comments)


Oats can easily be termed a magical food. It is healthy; it is an excellent product for weight watchers, it keeps your arteries clean – and helps with your cholesterol woes and it keeps your insulin levels in check.

Oats are a rich source of soluble fibre, which helps control not just LDL, but also restrains diabetes. The fibre in oats controls the sugar metabolism in the body. The fibre also eases motions, keeping the bowels clear and easy.

Oats can be had in many ways. Porridge is of course the staple way that oats is consumed. However, you can use this one ingredient to make many dishes. It can be added to batter used for idli, dosa, uttapam or vada. It can be added to flour, while kneading dough. Oats can be turned into a filling upma.

Brown Rice

Rice eaters often get the raw end of the stick, since rice is restricted for diabetic patients. Rice eaters can switch to brown rice – it is after all a healthier option. It is a complete food, packed with the right nutrients. Since it is unpolished, it has the bran cover over it, making it rich in fibre.

The best way to have brown rice is to combine it with copious amounts of vegetables. This cuts down the carbohydrates in the rice and ups the nutrient quotient.

Add these foods to your diet if you are diabetic and bring down blood glucose levels down naturally. A healthy approach is the best way to control this life threatening, disease.

For recipes, please leave a message in the comment box.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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Author: surabhi29 Nov 2016 Member Level: Silver   Points : 0

This article on best foods to add to a diabetic will really help all diabetic patients.

Author: K Mohan06 Dec 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 3

Out of all the details given by the author in the article, I would like to say about the brown rice which is essential for any diabetic patient. Though the rice looks thin but it is very hard. Even you soak it overnight and cook the rice, it would consume more time. The best way is to add some normal rice and channa dal with it while soaking overnight and have a stir in the mixie to prepare a dosa paste which would be more tasty too. And after having two or three dosas, you feel like you are having a full stomach and the feeling of hunger wont be there at least for 6 to 8 hours. Once you taste it, then it will become a habit for you.

Author: Juana06 Dec 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 8

Yes, diabetics benefit from brown rice. In fact, diabetics benefit from good carbohydrates which are rich in fibre and brown rice falls in this carbohydrate category because it also has high fibre content.

I am sharing an easy to make pulao recipe, which is healthy and can be eaten by everyone but is especially beneficial for diabetic patients.

• Brown rice – 1 cup, washed and soaked in warm water, preferably for 4-5 hours
• Soya nuggets or granules – a large handful, soaked in water for 10-15 minutes
• Mixed vegetables – 2 cups of chopped veggies such as carrots, cauliflower, peas beans etcetera
• Onion – 1 medium, finely chopped
• Tomato – 1 large – finely chopped
• Ginger & garlic paste – 1 tsp each
• Oil – 1 tbsp
• Peppercorns – 10-12
• Cinnamon – 1” piece
• Cloves – 2-4
• Bay leaf – 1
• Garam masala – ½ tbsp.
• Salt
• Heat oil and add peppercorns, followed by onions, cloves, bay leaf and cinnamon. Fry the ingredients till onions turn brown
• Add ginger & garlic paste and continue frying, till the oil separates – stir continuously
• Add tomatoes and salt and cook until tomatoes turn mushy
• Squeeze the extra water from the soya granules/nuggets and add to the masala
• Next add the veggies to the masala and give a good stir for 3-4 minutes
• Pour 4 cups of water to the vegetable mix and bring to a boil
• To this add the rice
• Put the flame on simmer
• Partially cover the rice and cook for roughly 25 minutes or till the rice is done
• Keep the cooked rice covered for 5 minutes, before serving with a nice chutney jamun chutney

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