Nutrition for Diabetes
Eating for Health
Healthy eating can lower your A1c level by 1.0% to 2.0%.
Eating the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat can help you manage your blood sugar and lower your A1c. Your A1c reveals your blood sugar level over the past 3 months and reflects your diabetes control. Healthy eating can lower your A1c level by 1.0% to 2.0%.
Find out more about carbohydrates, protein or fat »
You can also manage your blood sugar with mindful and intuitive eating. Mindful and intuitive eating allows you to notice how your body feels and responds when you eat certain foods.
Taking time to notice how your body feels can help you decide what is right and wrong for your body.
Find out more about mindful and intuitive eating »
What are Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat?
Nourish Your Body
You need carbohydrates, protein, and fat to help your body function:
- Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of fuel or energy.
- Protein helps to build tissue and repair your body after damage or stress.
- Fats known as unsaturated fat can lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol.
All food is made up of carbohydrates, protein, or fat, or a mix of these nutrients.
You need each of these nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) to help your body function. Eat a range of foods with these nutrients to have a healthy diet.
Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of fuel or energy — they act like the gasoline in a car. Carbohydrates turn into glucose (or sugar) in your body. Your working muscles and brain need this glucose to work well. You cannot live without them.
Since carbohydrates turn into glucose (or sugar) in your body, they will raise your blood sugar level. You need to eat the right amount of carbohydrates to be healthy and still manage your blood sugar.
What foods have carbohydrates?
Most foods contain carbohydrates. The foods that have higher amounts of carbohydrates are:
- Grain products
- Dairy (such as milk and yogurt)
- Fruit (dried and fresh)
- Legumes (such as dried beans, lentils, and chickpeas)
- Sweets and sweetened beverages
- Starchy vegetables (such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn)
What foods have protein?
Protein helps to build tissue and repair your body after damage or stress. Protein does not raise blood sugar.
The foods that have higher amounts of protein include:
- animal meat (beef, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, goat) and fish
- legumes (such as dried beans, lentils, and chickpeas)
- soy (such as tofu, tempeh, and edamame)
- eggs and egg whites
- nuts and seeds
- dairy products (such as cheese, kefir, milk, and yogurt)
What foods have fat?
Fats do not raise blood sugar and are needed for good health. There are two main types of fats: unsaturated and saturated.
Fats that come from plants and fish are known as unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fat can lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol. Too much LDL (bad) cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in your blood vessels.
Find out more about cholesterol and how it affects your health »
Some examples of foods that contain unsaturated fats include:
- vegetable oils (all types such as olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil)
- nuts and seeds (all types)
- non-hydrogenated margarines
- fish, especially fatty fish (such as trout, sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon, and tuna)
Fats found mostly in animals are known as saturated fat. Saturated fat may increase your LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Some examples of foods that contain saturated fats include:
- bacon and turkey bacon
- skin on poultry
- cream (such as table, half and half, and whipping cream)
- palm oil, palm kernel oil, cocoa butter, and coconut oil