Vegetables for a diabetic diet – do you absolutely need them? Yes. “Eat your vegetables,” mom always advised. As usual, mom was right. They are a must in any nutritious diet. They’re low in calories – a perk for those watching the scale. And, like their good buddy, fruits, vegetables are chockfull of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other wonderful nutrients the body needs and loves. What are the best vegetables for a diabetic diet?
For instance, dark, leafy vegetables (romaine lettuce, spinach, chard, collard greens or kale) contain iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients (pronounced “fight-o-nutrients”), which are compounds found in fruits and vegetables that work with vitamins, minerals and fiber to promote good health. Phytonutrients like beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin also help protect our cells from damage.
Many studies have shown that the vitamins in vegetables help fight chronic diseases, a great advantage for diabetics who are prone to such conditions as heart disease and stroke.
People with diabetes should opt for the non-starchy variety of vegetables, which are low in carbohydrates and high in fiber. And be careful not to pump up the fat and calorie quotient with added butter, seasonings and cheesy sauces, as tempting as it may be.
Eat a minimum of three servings of vegetables a day. A serving is 1 cup of raw or a ½ cup of cooked vegetables. For optimum health benefits, pick from a colorful array of veggies, too.
Choose fresh, frozen and canned vegetables without added sodium, fat or sugar. Here are a few suggestions:
- Dark vegetables
- Bok choy
- Mustard greens
- Orange vegetables
- Winter squash
- Orange peppers