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Healthy Carbohydrates You Can Include In your Diabetic Diet
Diabetes is a serious metabolic disorder which has been increasing at a rapid rate globally. According to the World Health Organisation, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the year 2016, about 1.6 million deaths were directly due to diabetes (1).
What Is the Glycaemic Index?
The Glycaemic Index (GI) is a numerical scale used to indicate how fast and how high a particular food can raise our blood glucose (blood sugar) level. A food with a low GI will typically prompt a moderate rise in blood glucose, while a food with a high GI may cause our blood glucose level to increase above the optimal level (2, 3).
Glycaemic index is a measure of a food’s ability to raise the level of blood glucose.
Glycaemic load is glycaemic index adjusted for a standard serving size.
Foods containing carbohydrate which can be added to a diabetic diet
Foods with lower glycaemic responses are more desirable for people who are actively managing their blood glucose levels. That is people with prediabetes and diabetes. The lower glycaemic response could mean less medication necessary to keep blood glucose levels in check.
Using whole wheat flour and brown rice instead of refined flour and white rice would be beneficial for diabetic people. Because of the fiber content, the blood glucose levels rise slowly and a diabetic person can manage the glucose levels in the blood.
In the case of carbohydrates from refined foods the blood glucose levels rise rapidly and the diabetic person will find it difficult to manage the glucose levels.
Incorporation of legumes such as beans, chickpeas and lentils as part of a low glycaemic index diet showed improvement in the case of both glycaemic control and also decreased the calculated coronary heart disease risk score in type 2 diabetic people (4).
Whole legumes are rich sources of dietary fiber. It makes legumes healthy food to be included in a diabetic diet.
Oatmeal intake has a beneficial effect on glucose control and lipid profile of diabetic patients. Since diabetic people are at a higher risk of heart problems and abnormal lipid profile is a risk factor, oatmeal is a food which is recommended for diabetic people.
Diabetic people are urged to increase intake to 14 grams fiber per 1,000 kcals daily or about 25 grams per day for adult women and 38 grams per day for adult men. Oats contain a good amount of fiber which includes soluble fibre, the mixed linkage β-glucan.
Oatmeal is recommended as a breakfast food for diabetics but they should choose oats which cook for a longer time and should not add sugar or fruits to the oatmeal.
Most vegetables are suitable for diabetic people. Though they have starch they have plenty of fiber. And the fiber prevents blood glucose from increasing quickly. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes should be restricted. Even carrots and peas should be consumed in moderate amounts.
Include vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, okra and gourds which are non-starchy vegetables.
Vegetables except for the starchy ones can be included in a diabetic diet because of their high fiber content.
The fiber content of fruits is also high but some of the fruits are rich in sugars. But a diabetic person can have fruits such as apple, berries like blueberries, guava, pears and oranges.
Pick fruits which are not too sweet or ripe because the sweet ones will have high sugar content. The less sweet the better for a diabetic person.
Make sure you add foods that are low in carbohydrate and in case they contain carbohydrate the food should have a low glycaemic index.
- World Health Organisation (2019). Diabetes
- Wildman, R. (2009) The Nutritionist-Food, Nutrition and Optimal Health. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. Second Edition. New York and London.
- Truswell, A. S. (2003) ABC of Nutrition. BMJ Publishing Group, BMA House Tavistock Square. Fourth Edition. London WC1H 9JR
- Jenkins, D.J. A., Kendall, C.W. C., Augustin, L. S. A., Mitchell, S., Sahye-Pudaruth, S., Mejia, S. B., Chiavaroli, L., Mirrahimi, A., Ireland, Ch., Bashyam, B., Vidgen, E., de Souza, R. J., Sievenpiper, J. L., Coveney, J., Leiter, L. A. and Josse, R. G. (2012) Effect of Legumes as Part of a Low Glycemic Index Diet on Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Arch Intern Med. 172(21).