Diabetes Food: 7 Super Foods to Eat for Diabetics & Prediabetics

diabetes diet prediabetes food

What is the best prediabetes and diabetes diet?

What to eat has always been challenging as we are living in a plethora of food abundance, making food choices each day. These foods below are recommended and advised to consume to prevent/control prediabetes/diabetes.

Whole grains for diabetes diet

1. Whole Grain

The first component of prediabetes and diabetes diet is whole grain. Whole grains consumption is known to reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular mortality. A study has shown that 1 serving per day (28 g) of whole grains reduces risk of cardiovascular disease by 14% and cancer mortality by 3%. [2]


  • Beta-glucan, a soluble fiber found in oats and barley, is proven to have antidiabetic and cholesterol lowering effects. The stickiness of oats and barley is from the soluble fiber creates viscosity, which slows down the absorption and diffusion of glucose, reducing postprandial hyperglycemia and insulin secretion.

Brown Rice

  • Brown rice includes the outermost layer of the rice kernal which helps keep the nutritional values including dietary fiber, essential fatty acids, and various vitamins and trace elements. According to a recent study, not only brown rice consumption group maintain lower blood sugar, but it also helps to stay fuller longer than white rice consumption group. [1]


  • Quinoa, a small, nutrient-packed ancient grain, are widely available and can be easily found. It is known to be a complete protein, with all nine essential amino acids. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of quinoa has been proven to lower the oxidative stress that could lead to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Lean Meats for diabetes diet

2. Lean Meats

The second important food for diabetes diet is lean meat. Studies have shown that unprocessed, lean part of meat (<4 servings per week) is not harmful to diabetes or cardiovascular disease risk. [3]

Examples of lean meats include:

  • chicken or turkey (white meat, dark meat, without skin)
  • fresh cod and tuna fish
  • beef trimmed in fat (e.g. round, sirloin, flank, tenderloin, roast)
  • pork loin
  • tenderloin
  • boiled ham
  • lamb roast/chop
  • salmon

Lean meat is a great source of

  • Iron – carries oxygen from lungs to all parts of the body, also stores oxygen in muscle tissues.
  • Zinc – major player for immune system and wound healing, building proteins.
  • B vitamins – vitamin B12 can be naturally found in animal protein, helps  forming red blood cells, DNA, along with brain and nerve development.

The Mediterranean diet

3. Healthy Fats

The third component of a diabetes diet is healthy fats.

  • The Mediterranean diet, which is rich in monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat, including olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish is proven to improve glycemic control, insulin resistance along with reducing cardiovascular vascular risks.
  • Currently, consuming nuts regularly (daily or at least 3 times per week) of a handful of raw, unsalted nuts (about 30g, 3 tablespoons, 160kcal) is recommended.


Photo of Tofu on White Ceramic Plate Near Soybeans

4. Legumes, plant-based protein

Plant-based protein such as lentils, beans, peas, tofu, and tempeh, are associated with lowerering the risk of developing diabetes.

  • A serving of legumes is ½ cup, a handful. They are rich in protein and fiber and several micronutrients. They also contain natural enzyme inhibitors that helps slow down the carbohydrates and lipids in the small intestines, contributing them to be slowly digested and absorbed, and cause slower and smaller rise in blood sugar levels.

Studies have found that

  1. protein may be responsible for blood glucose regulations
  2. chickpeas, hummus, chickpea flour reduces blood glucose response
  3. when pulses is added on pasta, it significantly lowers glucose level compared to regular pasta without the pulses. [4]

Close-Up Shot of Fresh Vegetables and Fruits on a Wooden Table

5. Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are great source of flavonoids, antioxidants compounds (vitamin C, E, carotenoids), potassium, and folate, as well as full of dietary fiber that helps to delay the absorption of carbohydrates and secrete insulin adequately and promote to keep fullness longer. 

According to 2016 Meta-analysis study, 1) Increased consumption of fruit, especially berries (strawberries, blueberries)  2) Increased consumption of green leafy vegetables, yellow vegetables, or cruciferous vegetables, could reduce diabetes risks. [5]

  • Green leafy vegetables: spinach, collard greens, romaine, mustard greens, lettuce, kale etc.
  • Yellow vegetables: carrots, yellow peppers, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, winter squash, golden beets
  • Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, brussel sprouts, cabbage

Red Strawberry and Raspberry on White Ceramic Bowl

6. Yogurt

Yogurt is made by adding the “good” bacteria to milk and then kept at a specific temperature. During fermentation, the “good” bacteria thicken the milk and give the tangy taste.

It is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and high-quality proteins, supports the immune system, and benefits digestion and bowel movement.

Probiotic bacteria components and some fatty acids components may have been a contributing factors for preventing diabetes risk by reducing insulin resistance risk. [6]

Flat Lay Photography of Two Cups of Coffee

7. Coffee and tea

The last component of diabetes diets is coffee and tea. Coffee consumption or tea (black, green tea), without sugar or cream/milk, inversely associated with diabetes risk.

Caffeine, phenolics (e.g. chlorogenic acid [CGA]), lignans, trigonelline, N-methylpyridinium, minerals and vitamins, proteins, and lipids in coffee have found to play important role in insulin regulation. [7]

Phytochemicals such as catechins, gallic acid, caffeic acid, kaempferol, myricetin, and quercetin in green tea have been shown to aid weight loss, reduce blood glucose level in prediabetes and diabetes patients. [8]

In summary, consuming whole grain, lean meats, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, yogurt, and coffee and tea (without sugar or milk/cream) have been demonstrated to have a preventive effect on preventing diabetes risk. Finding, choosing, and preparing these foods based on your time and availability, can be challenging.

Personalized and individualized diabetes diets, based on your goals and comfort level, are the best way to reduce your blood glucose level.

If you want to know more about personalized prediabetes & diabetes diet, your personalized dietitians at DoctorHere are here for you.

Related Articles

  1. 5 Essential Tips On How To Reverse Prediabetes. https://www.doctorhere.com/how-to-reverse-prediabetes/
  2. 8 Reasons Why Your Blood Sugar Rises or Falls. https://www.doctorhere.com/blood-sugar-rise-and-falls/
  3. How Do Doctors Check for Type 2 Diabetes. https://www.doctorhere.com/type-2-diabetes-diagnosis/
Show References


[1] Sun, Q., Spiegelman, D., van Dam, R. M., Holmes, M. D., Malik, V. S., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2010). White rice, brown rice, and risk of type 2 diabetes in US men and women. Archives of internal medicine, 170(11), 961-969.

[2] Wu, H., Flint, A. J., Qi, Q., Van Dam, R. M., Sampson, L. A., Rimm, E. B., … & Sun, Q. (2015). Association between dietary whole grain intake and risk of mortality: two large prospective studies in US men and women. JAMA internal medicine, 175(3), 373-384.

[3] Renata Micha, R. D., Wallace, S. K., & Mozaffarian, D. (2010). Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Circulation, 121(21), 2271-2283.

[4] Ramdath, D., Renwick, S., & Duncan, A. M. (2016). The role of pulses in the dietary management of diabetes. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 40(4), 355-363.

[5] Wang, P. Y., Fang, J. C., Gao, Z. H., Zhang, C., & Xie, S. Y. (2016). Higher intake of fruits, vegetables or their fiber reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes: A meta‐analysis. Journal of diabetes investigation, 7(1), 56-69.

[6] Salas-Salvadó, J., Guasch-Ferre, M., Díaz-López, A., & Babio, N. (2017). Yogurt and diabetes: overview of recent observational studies. The Journal of Nutrition, 147(7), 1452S-1461S.

[7] Carlström, M., & Larsson, S. C. (2018). Coffee consumption and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Nutrition reviews, 76(6), 395-417.

[8] Basu, A., Du, M., Sanchez, K., Leyva, M. J., Betts, N. M., Blevins, S., … & Lyons, T. J. (2011). Green tea minimally affects biomarkers of inflammation in obese subjects with metabolic syndrome. Nutrition, 27(2), 206-213.

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