List of Good & Bad Foods for a Diabetic

By Mario Calhoun
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For a diabetic, it's important to have a thorough understanding of which foods are healthy and which ones can cause your blood sugar level to rise and lead to other symptoms. Some of the "good" foods in your diabetic eating plan include non-starchy foods, fruits and specific lean meats. "Bad" foods include dairy, starchy foods, foods high in saturated fat and sugary snacks. Always speak with your dietitian about your eating regimen to find out what works best for your body.

Non-starchy Foods

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Non-starchy foods are high in vitamins and low in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates raise your blood glucose level, so consuming too many of them can cause health problems. Healthy, non-starchy vegetables include spinach, green beans, lettuce, carrots, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and cauliflower. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), you should have between three to five vegetable servings per day. Fruit is also beneficial as a source for vitamin C, and the ADA recommends at least two to four servings per day.


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Red meat is high in protein, but the amount of saturated fat makes it unhealthy for diabetics. As a replacement, use lean ground beef to reduce the amount of saturated fat intake. Chicken is high in protein, but you will need to remove the skin from the chicken to avoid the saturated fat. Fish is high in protein, with mackerel, anchovies and salmon as the best sources for the nutrient. The ADA recommends consuming only three to six ounces of meat daily.

Starchy Foods

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Starchy foods are high in carbohydrates and should be limited in your diet. Starchy foods include bread, pasta, rice, cereal, pretzels, popcorn, corn, potatoes, tortillas and green peas. Snack chips and beans are also considered starchy foods. Starchy foods can be divided into complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates break down faster do not fill you up as much. Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grain breads and break down at a slower rate. Because they take longer to completely break down, you feel full faster and won't need to eat as much as you would when eating simple carbohydrates. The ADA recommends limiting starches and grains to six to 11 small portions daily. One serving of bread is considered one slice of bread, 3/4 cup of cereal or 1/3 cup of pasta.


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Dairy foods are high in saturated fat, but you can still enjoy some products you would normally eat. For example, substitute whole milk with non-fat or reduced-fat milk. If you are lactose-intolerant, soy milk is an alternative that provides protein as well as vitamin E, without high amounts of saturated fat and without cholesterol. Low-fat and non-fat plain yogurt are also suitable replacements for regular yogurt. The ADA recommends two to three servings of dairy on a daily basis.