The Worst Foods For Diabetics (Even Ones That Seem Healthy)

In 2015, over 9% of the population in the United States had diabetes, a condition that is on the rise. Diabetes is a long-term illness that affects how the body responds to insulin. Once someone has been diagnosed with diabetes, their eating habits change significantly.

Some foods that appear to be healthy may, in fact, be harmful. Many meals include hidden sugars, preservatives, and salt that are difficult to detect on the label. Continue reading to learn about the worst foods for diabetics.

1. Dried Fruit Is Not As Safe As Fresh Fruit

Certain fruits can be consumed by diabetics as part of a balanced diet, although they should avoid dried fruit since they are concentrated forms of the whole fruit. According to Rupali Datta, a nutritionist, “Everything goes up in these concentrated forms. The sugar level and glycemic index go up as well.”

People eat more when dried fruits are smaller than fresh ones because they appear to be less appealing. A cup of fresh grapes has 27 carbohydrates, but a cup of raisins contains 115 carbohydrates. Dried fruits are much more likely to cause blood sugar spikes in diabetics.

2. Replace White Bread With Wheat Bread

People with diabetes can eat bread, according to what some people think. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) encourages it—provided you eat only limited amounts of whole-grain bread. According to research in Diabetes Care, white bread raises the risk of diabetes due to its high glycemic index.

Whole-grain bread, according to Susan Weiner, RD, LDN, has more fiber and causes a better glycemic response than white bread. White bread lacks that fiber, causing it to spike blood sugar more frequently. You can get whole-grain versions of your favorite loaves, such as sourdough and rye.

3. How Diet Soda Is Just As Bad As Regular Soda

The majority of individuals are aware that soda is a no-no for diabetics. However, did you know that diet soda has health risks as well? According to the American Diabetes Association, diet beverages have a proven correlation to diabetes. People who consumed it on a daily basis had a 67 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood sugar levels, belly fat, and metabolic syndrome.

A recent study in Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology found that drinking diet soda increases a person’s risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. This damages blood vessel in the eyes, which can lead to blindness for diabetics. Diet sodas are not worth your time or money.

4. Keep an eye out for artificial sweeteners, since they’re not healthy.

Artificial sweeteners, on the other hand, are marketed as “diabetic-friendly,” but studies show that this is not the case. In 2018, researchers found that artificial sweeteners promote diabetes and obesity more than previously thought. They harm your blood glucose levels and blood vessels in a way that endangers your insulin function.

The good news is that some artificial sweeteners are safe for people with diabetes. Stevia and tagatose have not been linked to significant rises in blood glucose levels in research. If you want advice, see a physician or nutritionist about the healthiest artificial sweeteners.

5. Drop Low-Fat Milk; Go High-Fat

For decades, health experts have disputed the best form of milk. Although diabetes researchers once suggested a low-fat diet, this is no longer the case. Low-fat milk has less fat but more sugar than full-fat varieties. This can cause your blood sugar levels to rise, according to registered dietitian Nicole Anziani.

High-fat dairy products, in particular, may reduce the incidence of diabetes. Swedish researchers found that high-fat milk consumption was linked to a decreased risk of diabetes in 2014. They might also aid people with pre-diabetes. Other studies have labeled high-fat milk “neutral” in terms of diabetes risk, but low-fat kinds of milk are not as healthy.

6. The Downside Of Canned Fruits And Vegetables

Canned foods are a point of contention in diabetes regimens. On the one hand, studies in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine found that canned fruit and vegetables have equal nutritional value to fresh fruit and vegetables. Canned fruits, on the other hand, include more sugar and salt than canned veggies.

Canned fruit has additional sugars as preservatives, while canned vegetables have more salt. Cans also contain bisphenol A (BPA), which has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in 2015. You must consider whether the convenience of canned foods outweighs the potential health risks.

7. The Worst Meat For Diabetics: Processed Meats

Diabetics may eat meat, although they should avoid processed meats. Processed meats raise the risk of type 2 diabetes by 19%, according to Harvard researchers in 2010. People with diabetes are adversely affected by the high salt and chemical preservatives present in these products.

Fresh red meat in this study did not make diabetes worse; only processed beef did. According to Israeli research, processed meats increase insulin resistance and the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The number of meals you consume greatly influences these risks. If you serve little dishes, you may be fine.

8. Skip Lattes, Cappuccinos, And Other Coffee Drinks

Coffee drinking does not increase the risk of diabetes. Caffeine, on the other hand, can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate in diabetics. 250 mg of caffeine raises blood sugar by 8% in individuals with insulin sensitivity, according to a 2008 study. This is something you don’t want to happen if you have insulin sensitivity.

Coffee with milk, cream, and syrups is more harmful to diabetics, according to Diabetes UK. Even the tiniest quantities of these beverages have over ten teaspoons of sugar. Diabetics should drink black coffee and decaf whenever possible.

9. Some Cheeses Work, But Not High-Salt Cheeses

Cheese may assist a diabetic diet. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cheese can reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes. However, not all cheeses are made equal. Some have considerably more salt than others do. For example, mozzarella has four milligrams of salt per ounce, whereas feta has 316 milligrams per ounce.

There are many differences between cheeses, even if they are called “the same” thing. Parmesan and Monterey Jack have a high amount of protein, whereas Provolone has a higher calcium content than other cheeses. When feasible, seek low-sodium versions, and double-check the label.

10. You Shouldn’t Eat Most Fast Food Meals

Fast food does not benefit most diabetics, according to Sandra Arevalo, a representative for the American Association of Diabetes Educators. “Fast-food meals high in sodium, carbohydrates, and harmful saturated fat,” she says. More than 1,000 calories are included in many dinner entrees that include fries and a drink.

Fortunately, many fast-food restaurants now have salads and low-carb sandwiches on their menu. The American Diabetes Association has some suggestions for dining out. Get the smallest-sized lunch possible; replace pop with water; or share the side of fries with someone else.

11. Never Choose Fat-Free Salad Dressings

To be healthier, individuals with diabetes may use “light” or fat-free salad dressings. These dressings, on the other hand, work in the opposite way. Salads made with full-fat dairy products are high in beneficial lipids that aid nutrient absorption. Olive oil and vinegar, according to integrative medicine specialist Irina Todorov, help people with diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Salad dressings have been shown to increase glucose levels in small-scale studies. Salad dressing, according to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, improves blood sugar levels. You’ll lose out on those advantages if you buy low-fat salad dressing.

12. Not All Cereal Bars Are Healthy

However, some cereals bars are comparable to candy bars in terms of nutrition. Complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates are both included in cereal bars, according to Diabetes UK. Complex carbohydrates are those that have a high glycemic index, such as lactose, maltose, and many starches. These transform into sugar in your body. You don’t want a sugar-rich cereal bar to raise your blood sugar levels.

For diabetics, some of the most popular cereal bar brands—including Nature Valley, Cliff, and Quaker Oats—may be high in sugar and fat. Torey Armul, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommends nuts and fruit instead of a cereal bar.