Non-starchy veggies are vegetables with low carbohydrate content, like greens, tomatoes, and spinach. Potatoes, corn, and peas are examples of starchy vegetables and they have a higher carbohydrate content. All vegetables provide nutrients and fiber, but it is important to note that when adding a carb side to a meal such as rice or pasta (which are themselves high in carbs) you should include non-starchy veggies where you can for optimal meal balance.
A great example is a side of broccoli. Half of a cup contains only 27 calories. Studies have shown that broccoli can be beneficial to the health of people with diabetes, protecting cells from potential damage.
Did you know that protein can increase your metabolic rate, causing you to burn more calories? Carbs can do this as well, but not to the extent that protein does. This is because your body needs extra energy to digest the protein, and so uses extra calories!
Lean protein such as fish and chicken should be your first choice, saving red meats for special occasions, as they are higher in fats/cholesterol. Fish is a fabulous option with salmon, herring, and sardines coming in with a nice amount of omega 3, or healthy fats. And don’t forget about the humble egg, a very healthy protein option. Eggs also contain antioxidants and have been found to improve blood sugar levels in some studies in people with diabetes. Keep in mind that most of the health benefits of eggs are found in the yolk. Eggs are fine for most to enjoy in moderation, check with your own health care provider for what is right for you.
You can, of course, get protein from a plant-based diet. Sources of plant-based protein include chickpeas, tofu, lentils, tempeh, edamame, and peas – just to name a few. Lentils pack an impressive 18g of protein per cup and are very versatile to be used in soups or salads. Tempeh, a fermented soy product, is also a powerhouse protein source with 12g of protein per cup.
Nuts and seeds are a wonderful source of protein and work great for snacking, or as an addition to salads or cereal. Consider ¼ cup as a good portion for nuts, keeping in mind that walnuts and pecans are fairly low in carb value, coming in at 1.2 grams of carbs per ounce of pecans and 2 grams for walnuts. Cashews and pistachios are 7.7 grams, and 5 grams, respectively.
Flaxseeds are another great source of protein and healthy fats and can also be added to salads and cereal, as well as being a great flour substitute in bread. You need to eat them as ground seeds and can easily grind them yourself and store them in the refrigerator.
When shopping for bread, pasta, or rice, consider purchasing products that are whole grain. Whole grains add fiber, which helps slow the absorption of carbohydrates and keep blood sugars stable. Be aware of products labeled as multi-grain-which can be mostly made with refined grains/sugars. Look for 100 percent whole-grain on your product labels.
The articles provided on this website are for informational purposes only. In addition, it is written for a generic audience and not a specific case; therefore, this information should not be used for diagnostic or medical treatment. This site does not attempt to replace the patient-physician relationship and fully recommends the reader to seek out the best care from his/her physician and/or diabetes educator.