5 Foods that Fight Diabetes

various beans on wooden surface
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When it comes to preventing diabetes, a balanced diet and daily dose of exercise are still important, but what you eat may be the key. Studies have found munching on nutrient-dense whole foods, rather than highly processed stuff loaded with sugar, salt and fat, helps smooth out blood sugar highs and lows. While no food is a magic bullet, these five are powerful weapons for fighting diabetes.


Sow your oats with this whole-grain cereal. The beta-glucan found in oats doubles down your health benefits. For starters, eating oatmeal helps lower bad LDL cholesterol, which reduces heart disease risk. Plus, it slows the absorption of glucose from food into the bloodstream, keeping blood sugar levels under control. Ultimately, this helps curb your appetite and may help you shed excess pounds. Make sure you eat unsweetened oatmeal; for a flavor boost, sprinkle on some cinnamon and nuts.


The benefits of eating beans (pinto, black, white, kidney, pinto, navy and garbanzo) are magical. Beans are virtually fat free, slowly digested and provide a winning combination of high-quality carbs, lean protein and soluble fiber, all of which helps prevent spikes in blood sugar and keeps hunger in check. Always rinse canned beans under running water to reduce sodium. Then toss them into a salad, soup, stew or chili.


There's nothing fishy about eating salmon. It’s a great source of protein, which doesn't cause a spike in blood sugar as much as carbohydrates. And, salmon is high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent heart attacks and stroke. Stay away from breaded or deep-fried salmon or you negate the health benefits.


These nuts provide a low-carb mix of protein, heart-healthy fats, fiber and magnesium. Some studies have found that magnesium, which plays a role in carbohydrate metabolism, may be instrumental in reducing diabetes risk by as much as 33 percent. Other magnesium-rich foods include pumpkin seeds, spinach and Swiss chard.


This up and coming whole-grain carb is loaded with cholesterol lowering beta-glucan, fiber and magnesium. Barley also happens to be the richest grain source of chromium, a nutrient that aids in controlling blood glucose. Look for pearled barley, it's the most common type, and use it in any recipe that calls for rice.

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Jodie Shield
Jodie Shield, MEd, RDN, LDN, is a Chicago-based consultant and university educator. Visit her website, Healthy Eating For Families, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.