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21 Best Vegetables You Must Include In Your Diabetes Diet

| Reviewed By Karthika Thirugnanam

Diabetes, a common and a chronic condition, affects more than one-third of the world's population. It is known to affect the day-to-day lifestyle of a person. While medication can help with the management of diabetes, strict dietary management also plays an important role in improving quality of life.

However, it is very difficult to design a diet chart for diabetes patients, especially what vegetables are safe in diabetes.

This is because starchy vegetables like potato can spike blood sugar levels. Therefore, diabetics must mindful while consuming these vegetables. On the other hands, patients with diabetes can safely consume high-fibre and non-starchy vegetables that have a low glycemic-index. Here are some examples of such vegetables.

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1. Broccoli

Broccoli is best suited for diabetics because of its high fibre and low-calorie content. It is rich in vitamins A and C. Broccoli also contains a sulphur-rich compound called sulforaphane which may help regulate the body's blood sugar levels. [1]

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2. Ladyfinger

Ladyfinger, also known as okra works well in reducing blood sugar levels. The gooey liquid that comes out when you cut okra helps regulate the glucose levels in the body. Soak sliced okra in a glass of water and drink it early in the morning to manage diabetes. [2]

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3. Carrots

Carrots contain an antioxidant called beta-carotene that helps reduce insulin levels in the body. It also contains Vitamin A which boosts the functioning of the immune system.

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4. Beans

Beans are another healthy option that a diabetic can include in their diet. They are rich sources of iron, calcium, potassium, vitamin A, folate and magnesium. Beans also contain fibre and protein besides having lower GI levels. Lower glycemic index foods are natural combatants against diabetes. [3]

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5. Cabbage

Cabbage is the best way to add vitamins A and K to the diabetic diet. It is also a rich source of manganese, fibre and vitamin B6. Cabbage helps lower blood sugar levels in the body and ensures the proper functioning of the pancreas. Pancreas release the vital enzyme called insulin which controls blood sugar levels in the body. [4]

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6. Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a low-carbohydrate veggie. It provides a daily intake of vitamin C. The good amount of iron, calcium and fibre may effectively help reduce the blood sugar levels.

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7. Cucumber

Cucumber is a low-carb choice for people with diabetes. It helps you keep a check on the rise of blood sugar levels. Cucumber is a good source of vitamin K along with potassium and vitamin C. [5]

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8. Tomato

Tomato is another superfood for diabetes. It is packed with vitamin C and is a good source for vitamin A, potassium and fibre. A diabetic must include tomatoes in their daily diabetic diet.

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9. Beetroot

Beetroot is rich in potassium and vitamin C. It can prove to be a great vegetable for diabetics as it can help keep up the energy levels and reduce diabetes-related fatigue.
Beetroots have the ability to regulate blood sugar levels as well as blood pressure levels in the body. One glass of beetroot juice can lower systolic blood pressure by almost 5 points. [6]

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10. Bitter Gourd

Bitter gourd, also known as karela contains Polypeptide-p that helps lower glucose levels naturally. Juice made from bitter gourd makes for an excellent beverage for diabetics. [7]

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11. Sweet Potato

Sweet potato contains anthocyanins that have the ability to control blood sugar levels in the blood. It is also rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that make them wonderful foods for diabetics.

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12. Spinach

This leafy green is also an excellent option for diabetics, as it is rich in magnesium, folate and potassium that can help control diabetes. This green veggie is known to impressively reduce the risk of diabetes. People who eat spinach daily are at 20 per cent reduced risk of diabetes. [8]

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13. Kale

Kale is rich in iron, potassium and essential vitamins B6 and K. They are low in calories and high in antioxidants. Kale, like other leafy greens, makes for a brilliant food that may help fight diabetes.

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14. Brinjal

Brinjal, or eggplant, is a low-carbohydrate and low-calorie vegetable for diabetics. It can inhibit the rise in blood sugar levels by regulating insulin production. Brinjal is also non-starchy and good for diabetics. [9]

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15. Bottle Gourd

Drinking bottle gourd juice in the morning can help manage diabetes much better than taking insulin supplements. Bottle gourd is rich in fibre and water content and causes the lowering of glucose levels in the body.

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16. Onion

Onion is good for both diabetics or pre-diabetics. It helps balance insulin levels in the body to keep the blood sugar levels under control. Onions are known to reduce fasting blood sugar levels in very less time. [10]

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17. Asparagus

Asparagus is a brilliant food that boosts pancreatic and kidney function. It is known to boost insulin levels in the body, thereby controlling the level of glucose in the blood.

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18. Garlic

Garlic is one of the healthiest foods to prevent diabetes. This is because of garlic's admirable nutrient composition which helps to regulate blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and blood sugar. It is a must-have food for diabetics. [11]

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19. Fenugreek Leaves

The leaves of the fenugreek plant are very useful in controlling diabetes. They are mildly bitter in taste but help lower glucose level in the blood. Fenugreek leaves are also high in fibre.

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20. Pumpkin

There's a controversy regarding the safety consumption of pumpkin in diabetes. Pumpkin does have a very high glycemic index, but it has a low glycemic load. Therefore, the consumption of a small portion of pumpkin can help control glucose levels.

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21. Artichokes

Artichokes are tuber plants that may help reduce blood sugar levels within 30 minutes of its consumption. The primary nutrient in artichokes is the fibre which is good in managing diabetes. [12]

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Common FAQs

1. What vegetables should diabetics avoid?

Diabetics should avoid high-carbohydrates, high-calories and starchy vegetables. This includes potato, corn and peas.

2. Can a diabetic eat vegetables?

Vegetables are must-have in a diabetic diet. They are an excellent source of micronutrients and antioxidants that may help prevent diabetes or manage its symptoms.

3. Which Indian vegetables are good for diabetes?

Indian vegetables such as ladyfinger, cabbage, broccoli, bottle gourd (louki), bitter gourd (karela), tomato and beans are considered best Indian vegetables for diabetes.

Karthika ThirugnanamClinical Nutritionist and Dietitian
MS, RDN (USA)
Karthika Thirugnanam