According to Diabetes UK, someone is diagnosed with diabetes every two minutes. Managing your diabetes well is how you avoid developing serious complications as a result of the condition, and for those with type 2 diabetes, diet is hugely important. So, what are the best vegetables to keep your blood sugar under control?
If you have type 2 diabetes, or you need to keep a close eye on your blood sugar, then eating a healthier diet including more vegetables is a great start.
However, did you know that some vegetables can actually cause blood sugar spikes?
Diabetics should pay attention to a vegetable’s GI ranking.
The GI is short for Glycaemic Index, which is a system of rating foods based on their carbohydrate content.
Potatoes for instance are a starchy vegetable with a high GI and a high carbohydrate content.
Carbohydrates are the food group that diabetics really need to keep an eye on, because it has the most significant effect on blood sugar levels.
This is because they are broken down quickly into glucose and absorbed into your bloodstream, which can cause blood sugar to become dangerously high for diabetics if they eat too many carbohydrates at once.
GI is really useful for diabetics because it shows how quickly that food will affect your blood sugar.
The GI rates foods from zero to 100 and with pure glucose, which has a GI of 100, usually as the reference.
Foods with a high GI are quickly broken down into sugar – glucose – and can cause your blood sugar to spike.
These foods include sugary drinks, white bread and potatoes, which have a GI of some 78.
Low GI foods are broken down and absorbed more slowly, meaning they can keep your blood sugar levels steadier.
Low GI foods include some fruit and vegetables, pulses and wholegrains.
So, what vegetables can keep your blood sugar under control?
1 – Broccoli
In the top spot is this leafy green vegetable. Broccoli has a GI of just 10.
It’s also pretty high in fibre, as well as packed full of vitamins A, C and K.
2 – Tomatoes
Scoring just 15 on the GI for 140 grams of tomatoes, make tomatoes a tasty addition to salads and meals wherever you can.
3 – Frozen peas
This inexpensive and easy-to-cook staple ranks at just 39 on the GI.
You’ll also be topping up your potassium, iron and fibre intake.
4 – Carrots
Carrots have a very low GI of 14 when raw, but that can increase to 41 if they’ve been boiled.
Although carrots taste sweet, they are low in starch which gives them a low GI.
5 – Sweet potato
So regular potatoes are out, but sweet potatoes, with their lower GI are a great alternative.
Just make sure you keep your portion of sweet potato in moderation. When boiled for 30 minutes, they have a GI of 46.
There are plenty more foods out there with a low GI, and with many other health benefits too.
We’ve listed ten more of the best here, but you can check the GI of a food using an online GI calculator.
6 – Artichoke
7 – Asparagus
8 – Cauliflower
9 – Green beans
10 – Lettuce
11 – Eggplant
12 – Peppers
13 – Mange tout
14 – Spinach
15 – Celery
Don’t forget: GI isn’t all there is to it, although it can be helpful for those who have to watch their blood sugar levels.
Diabetes UK says: “Eating to manage your diabetes isn’t just about GI ratings.
“Think of the bigger picture and choose foods high in fibre and wholegrains, as well as low in saturated fat, salt and sugar, as part of a long-term healthy diet.”
Anyone with questions or concerns about diabetes, blood sugar and diet should speak to a medical professional.