April 10


The Best and Worst Foods for Type 2 Diabetes

By Gabriela

April 10, 2018

no instant articles

Choosing the right foods can keep our blood sugar stable. That’s why those with type 2 diabetes should pay more attention to what they eat as certain foods can lower their blood sugar, while others can make them increase up to a dangerous level.

They don’t have to give up on all the foods and drinks they enjoy. The key is to maintain a balance and eat a variety of healthy fats, carbs, and proteins.

In other words, to make the right combination of foods that will avoid dangerous blood sugar swings and various diabetes complications. Here are the best and worst foods for those with type 2 diabetes.

What Should They Eat?

They should eat a variety of healthy sources of carbs, fats, and proteins. However, they should make sure they monitor portions of high-carb foods as this nutrient has the biggest impact on blood glucose levels.

So, carbs should not consist of more than 45% of their total calories. Also, they should consume proteins and fats in moderation to keep weight and calories in a healthy range.

The Best and Worst Foods for Type 2 Diabetes by Food Group

Here’s a useful tip to have in mind while picking the best foods: Non-starchy veggies should make half of one’s plate, and the rest should be healthy foods like seeds and nuts, whole grains, low-fat or non-fat dairy, lean protein, and small portions of healthy fats and fresh fruits.

One should limit their processed carbs and sugar intake, such as candy, soda, potato chips, corn chips, and other packaged and processed snacks.

Good Protein-Rich Foods

Consume lean proteins with low saturated fat content to get enough fiber, keep you full for longer, support weight loss, and reduce insulin resistance.

Good examples of protein-rich foods include:

  • Canned tuna in water
  • Sockeye salmon and other fatty fish
  • Tofu
  • Skinless chicken and turkey
  • Beans and legumes
  • Raw, unsalted nuts in moderation (such as walnuts and almonds)
  • Eggs
  • Plain, non-fat Greek yogurt

Worst protein sources are the following:

  • Sausages and pepperoni
  • Deli meats such as salami, bologna, turkey, roast beef, and ham
  • Beef jerky
  • Hot dogs
  • Flavored or sweetened nuts
  • Bacon
  • Sweetened protein smoothies or shakes
  • Deep-fried fish and tofu
  • Regular cheeses
  • Beans prepared with lard

Good Grains

Those with diabetes shouldn’t avoid all carbs. On the contrary, they should consume whole grains rich in vitamins and fiber.

Some of the best options include:

  • Brown or wild rice
  • Quinoa
  • Whole-grain cereal, bread, pasta (such as whole-wheat bread, steel-cut oats)

Note – counting carbs and controlling the portion size is recommended.

Examples of worst options for grains include:

  • Pastries
  • White bread
  • White rice/pasta
  • Sugary breakfast cereals

Good Dairy Sources

Those with type 2 diabetes can eat dairy in moderation, but only if it’s a good pick. Just take the fat content into account, especially for overweight or obese. Choose fat-free dairy whenever possible.

Good options for dairy include:

  • Plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
  • Skim milk
  • Non-fat, unsweetened kefir
  • Low-fat cheese (moderate amounts)
  • Low-sodium, non-fat cottage cheese

Bad options for dairy:

  • Reduced-fat or full-fat cottage cheese
  • Reduced-fat or full-fat milk, especially flavored milk like chocolate milk
  • Full-fat cheese/yogurt/sweetened kefir

Good and Bad Vegetables

Vegetables are rich in fiber and essential nutrients, but the best option for type 2 diabetes management are the non-starchy ones. They are low in carbs which will keep their blood sugar in check.

Best options for non-starchy vegetables include:

  • Cucumbers
  • Greens like Swiss chard, kale, and spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Jicama
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Onions
  • Peppers

They can also eat certain starchy vegetables but only in moderation. Also, they shouldn’t forget to count them toward their total carbohydrate total. Here are some of them:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • White potatoes
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Yams
  • Beets

Worst vegetables are:

  • Pickles and sauerkraut if you need to limit sodium (for those with high blood pressure)
  • Canned veggies with high sodium content
  • vegetables cooked with lots of added sauce, cheese, or butter

Good and Bad Fruits

If we choose our fruits wisely and eat it in moderation, they can be great for a type 2 diabetes diet. In fact, we can eat it instead of cakes, pastries, cookies, and other unhealthy processed sweets.

However, we shouldn’t forget to count the carb intake when consuming fruits.

Good fruits include:

  • Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and other berries
  • Peaches (including the skin)
  • Cherries
  • Apples (including the skin)
  • Pears (including the skin)
  • Apricots (including the skin)
  • Kiwi
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Melon
  • Grapes

Bad options include:

  • Packaged fruit juices
  • Dried fruit
  • Canned fruit in syrup
  • Fresh juices (which are part of popular cleansing diets)

Good and Bad Fat Sources

Fats are not necessarily bad for our health and blood sugar levels. In fact, the right kind can help us avoid unhealthy cravings, burn excess pounds, and attain better blood sugar control.

Healthy fats are monounsaturated fats, like those in almonds, avocados, and pecans, as well as polyunsaturated fats in sunflower oil and walnuts.

On the other hand, bad fats are trans fats and saturated fats found in packaged snacks. So, here are the best and worst options.

Healthy fat sources include:

  • Pecans, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and other nuts
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Nut butter
  • Chia seed, flaxseed, and other seeds
  • Edamame
  • Tuna, salmon, and similar fish
  • Tofu
  • Plant-based oils like olive oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, and soybean oil

Unhealthy fats include:

  • Pork, lamb, veal, and beef
  • Fast food
  • Palm oil
  • Packaged snacks such as corn chips, crackers, and potato chips
  • Processed sweets such as muffins, cookies, cakes, and doughnuts


Here are the best and worst choices for drinks when it comes to blood sugar control.

Good options:

  • Water
  • Tea without added sugar
  • Black coffee

Bad options include:

  • Sweetened tea
  • Sodas
  • Energy drinks
  • Flavored coffees and cream
  • Regular beer, dessert wines, fruit mixed drinks
  • Coffee with cream and sugar


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}