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Diabetics Can Swap These Foods and Drinks to Lower Blood Sugar

Margaret Minnicks is a health-conscious person who researches the health benefits of foods and drinks.


Even though diabetics should be careful with the foods they eat, they do not have to deny themselves of all good foods to maintain a safe blood sugar level. They can swap out certain foods and replace them with more diabetic-friendly ones. The substituted food is often tastier and healthier than the forbidden one.

Look through the following suggestions below and discover that you can eat what you like without getting spikes in your blood sugar level. Get into the habit of swapping out certain foods for healthier choices to lower blood sugar. Surely, you will discover there are plenty of options.


Avoid Red Meat
It is better to avoid red meat. However, you can swap red meat for fish, chicken, and other protein. Occasionally, if you want to have red meat, choose lean cuts and limit your portions.

Fish provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid eating white fish like cod and tilapia. Instead, eat salmon, trout, haddock, and pollock. . Try to eat two servings of the recommended amount of fish every week.

Chicken provides 38g of protein per serving. Choose skinless, white meat cuts because they have the fewest calories and fat per serving. Fried chicken is not a healthy option at all. Feel free to bake, broil, or roast chicken.

Avoid Processed Lunch Meats
Remove processed lunch meats like ham, salami, and bologna from your meal plans. They do not have much sugar, but they are loaded with sodium, fat, and calories. Instead of processed cold cuts, choose slices of chicken and turkey. They have less sugar, sodium, and calories.



Chicken, Turkey, and Fish

Processed Lunch Meat

Chicken, Turkey, and Fish

Fried Meats

Baked Chicken, Turkey, and Fatty Fish like Salmon

Chargrilled Meats

Baked or Broiled

Chicken Fried Steaks with Gravy

Baked or Broiled Chicken with Natural Juices

Avoid Fried Foods

Diabetics should not eat any fried food. They are high in trans-fats that can cause heart disease in no time. They are also high in calories. If you have a taste for something fried, use your air fryer. Do not coat meats with bread crumbs or oils.

Any food that can be fried can be cooked in healthier ways. So, cook chicken, fish, and other meats in the oven or air fryer instead of in hot grease on the stove. Baked, boiled, broiled, or roasted foods have fewer calories and less fat. Besides, there are no spikes in blood sugar when they are cooked that way.


All vegetables are not good for diabetics. Some vegetables are starchy like corn and potatoes. Therefore, it is best to stick with dark green leafy vegetables such as collards, spinach, kale, and arugula which are full of nutrients and very low in calories. Choose romaine lettuce instead of iceberg lettuce that is 95 percent water with little nutritional value.

Diabetes should stay away from mashed potatoes. They are high in carbs and fats. Instead, eat pureed cauliflower that can give the same texture and similar taste.

White potatoes are full of starch that is bad for diabetics because starch is processed in the body the same way sugar is. White potatoes can cause blood sugar to spike even faster than sugar.

Instead of eating white potatoes, replace them with jicama which is extremely low on the glycemic index with lots of fiber. These vegetables can be prepared just like white potatoes, baked, roasted, and sauteed.


Iceberg Lettuce

Dark Leafy Greens Like Collards, Spinach, and Kale; Broccoli

Mashed Potatoes

Pureed Cauliflower

White Potatoes

Jicama, Sweet Potatoes

Rice and Pasta

White rice should be avoided at all costs if you are a diabetic. It is low in fiber and high in carbs and calories. Therefore, it is high on the glycemic index and causes blood sugar spikes.

Instead of eating white rice, eat cauliflower rice because it is more diabetes-friendly. Cauliflower is among the healthiest vegetable you can get, and it is loaded with fiber and vitamins with few carbs and calories. Make your own cauliflower rice at home by putting the vegetable into a food processor or blender and pulsing it until you get your desired consistency.

Brown Rice
Brown rice is tasty, but there are better options. For example, quinoa is high in fiber with double the amount that is in brown rice.

Even though pasta is a comfort food, diabetics should avoid eating it. It is loaded with carbs, which can elevate blood sugar levels. There are options without sacrificing flavor and comfort. Choose whole-grain pasta, cauliflower, or spaghetti squash.

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Spaghetti squash has fewer calories per serving than traditional pasta with a good source of vitamins A and C.


White Rice

Cauliflower Rice

Brown Rice



Spaghetti Squash


Eat fresh fruit instead of dried fruits that are high in sugar, salt, and calories. Besides, there are fewer vitamins and nutrients in dried fruit than in fresh fruit.

Because fresh fruit hasn’t been dehydrated like dried fruit, sugar content is lower with very few calories. Fresh fruit has fiber, folic acid, and vitamins. Fresh fruit is available year-round. Therefore, you always have lots of choices.


Dried Fruit

Fresh Fruit



Diabetics should be careful about eating bread of any kind. They might use bread crumbs on crab cakes and other foods without giving it a second thought. However, bread crumbs can actually be making your blood sugar rise.

Macadamia nuts are an alternative to bread crumbs. They do not affect your blood sugar. Crush them up and use them instead of breadcrumbs to coat fish filets, chicken, or vegetables.

Foods are given a score from 0 to 100 on the index to show how fast they increase your blood glucose. On a scale of 0-100, white bread comes in with a high score of 95. Avoid white bread because it will spike your blood sugar quickly. Instead, replace it with whole-grain bread.

Avoid hamburger and hot dog rolls because they have lots of carbs and sugar. You can swap them out with lettuce and cabbage leaves that have absolutely no carbs and no sugar. You will have no spiked blood sugar levels when you use them to hold your food. You can also use a portobello mushroom in place of a hamburger bun.


Bread Crumbs

Macadamia Nuts

White Bread

Whole Grain Bread, Pumpernickel Bread

Hamburger and Hotdog Buns

Lettuce and Cabbage Leaves. Portobello Mushrooms

Flour Tortillas

Corn Tortillas

Avoid flour tortillas that can make your blood sugar spike without keeping you full. There is not enough nutritional value in flour tortillas to make them worth eating. They are full of extra fat and a high amount of sugar.

You do not have to give up eating tortillas, but you should choose something that does not cause spikes in your blood sugar. Corn tortillas are healthier alternatives to flour tortillas. Besides, they taste better with a fraction of the fat that flour tortillas have.


Whole Milk
Whole milk and full-fat cheeses have high-calorie contents that cause spikes in blood sugar. Instead of eating and drinking those foods, swap them out for reduced-fat dairy that will not raise your blood sugar level.

Butter is a bad option for diabetics. The fats in butter can make symptoms of diabetes worse. Butter is sugar-free, but it is made up of 80% fats. It probably won't lead to any sudden blood sugar spikes, but there are other negative nutritional side effects. When it comes to butter, heart disease is just as serious as diabetes.

You can replace butter with avocados. One avocado has healthy fats that taste great on toast and in recipes that call for butter. The downside is that avocados do have lots of calories. Therefore, use them sparingly.

Processed Cheese
Avoid processed cheese because all cheeses are not equal. For example, just one slice of American cheese has about 300 mg of sodium. That is not good for diabetics, and it can also increase your blood pressure. Swap processed cheese for Swiss cheese with only 25 mg of sodium.

Before adding just any cheese to your meals, check the glycemic index to determine how it will affect your blood glucose level.


Whole Milk

Reduced Fat Milk, Soy Milk


Avocado, Soft Margarine

Processed Cheese

Swiss Cheese


Instant oats are not a healthy option for diabetics. If you do eat instant oats occasionally, you should avoid flavored instant oats. They contain about 300 mg of sodium and are loaded with added sugars that always spike blood glucose levels.

Whole oats flavored with fresh fruit are a much healthier and tastier option than the pre-packaged instant oats packed with sugar and artificial flavors.

Most dry cereals are loaded with sugar and very little fiber. For example, Raisin Ban has as much as 18g of sugar per serving.

A good choice is to swap out your cereal with steel-cut oats. You can add fresh fruit, nuts, honey, vanilla, or cinnamon as long as you do not add too much of the sugary ingredients.


Instant Flavored Oats

Plain Instant Oats

Sugary Dry Cereal

Steel-Cut Oats


Mayonnaise is bad for diabetics. It is high in fat, and just one tablespoon has 90 calories. You could eat low-fat and low-calorie mayo, but you could also swap it out for something that’s even better.

You can eat low-fat Greek yogurt that's packed with nutrients without added sugar and calories.



Lowfat Greek Yogurt

Condiments with high fats and carbs


Lard, Butter, Bacon Grease, Shortening

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Canola, and Safflower.

Nuts and Seeds

Avoid mixed nuts because they are extremely high in fats and salt that can raise your blood pressure and your blood sugar level. If you have a taste for nuts, choose the unsalted ones. Even so, don't eat too many of them.

Instead of eating mixed nuts, eat walnuts. Unsalted or lightly salted walnuts are high in fiber. They can help improve digestion and reduce blood sugar spikes.


Mixed Nuts


Roasted Nuts


Snacks: Sweet and Salty

Milk Chocolate
Milk chocolate is a high-calorie snack with a lot of sugar and fats. Eating just a little can cause blood sugar spikes. Dark chocolate is a much better choice because it is healthier and just as delicious.

Candy is high in sugar. Sugar-free candy is a better option, but it has no nutritional value. Replace it with fresh fruit when you have a sweet tooth.

Potato Chips
Almost everyone loves potato chips even though they are made with one of the least nutritious vegetables. Instead of eating highly salted potato chips, try eating plain popcorn. If you must use salt, use light salt sparingly.

Hard-Boiled Eggs
Don't reserve hard-boiled eggs breakfast only. They are excellent high-protein snacks for diabetes. The protein helps keep you full without affecting your blood sugar. The protein slows digestion and glucose absorption.


Milk Chocolate

Dark Chocolate




Plain Popcorn



Avoid eating muffins because they contain high amounts of saturated fats. Muffins also have high sugar content. You can choose whole-grain muffins, but also contain sugar.

Bagels don't taste as sweet as muffins, but they have about 75% less saturated fat. Unlike muffins and doughnuts, bagels are traditionally baked instead of fried. Choose wisely what you spread on your bagel. Many spreads could make the bagel just as unhealthy as a muffin.

Ice Cream
Full-sugar ice cream is bad for diabetics. Ice cream is loaded with hundreds of calories, carbs, sugar, and fat. Diabetics should avoid that treat altogether. Instead, eat sugar-free sorbet or sherbet.

Compared to full-sugar ice creams, sorbet and sherbet have fewer calories, fat, sugar, and carbs, so replace sugary ice cream for sorbet.





Full Sugar Ice Cream

Sugar-Free Sorbet or Sherbet


Smoothies contain a very high amount of sugar, fruit juices, fats, and dairy that are bad for diabetics. Those ingredients cause a sharp spike in blood sugar besides being full of calories. Saturated fats in milk can also worsen insulin resistance in diabetics.

People might not know that it is a very bad idea for diabetics to eat different kinds of fruit at once. The sugar content will raise blood sugar sky high. Therefore, it is better to eat only one fruit at a time instead of ingesting too much sugar from fruits at once.

When people drink a lot of fruit juice, it is mostly absorbed as sugar and increases blood sugar very quickly. Fruit juice has a high carbohydrate content which is bad for diabetics.

Instead of drinking your fruit, eat it. However, you still need to be careful because of the sugar content of whole fruit. Some fruits can affect your blood sugar more than others.

Avoid sugary sodas as well as diet sodas. Swap them out with flavored water or tea. Some people drink tea without any sugar at all. Water and tea are healthier than any beverage you can drink, and they don't cause blood sugar spikes.

This is not to advise drinking alcohol, but if you do decide to indulge on rare occasions, women with diabetes can have one drink per day, and men can have a maximum of two. That's because drinking alcohol may increase the risk of low blood sugar, especially for those who are taking insulin or other diabetes medicines. When diabetics drink, they should choose one with less sugar, For instance, dry wines are better than sweet and fruity ones.

Diabetics who prefer beer should drink light beer. Like dry wines, light beers don't have as much sugar and calories as regular beers.



Smoothies Made with Many Fruits

Whole Fruits

Fruit Juice

Raw Fruit

Sugary and Diet Sodas

Water, Flavored Water, Tea

Sports Drinks Like Gatorade and Powerade

Water, Flavored Water, Tea


Dry Wines, Light Beers


30 Diabetic Food Swaps to Lower Blood Sugar

Tasty Recipes for People with Diabetes

20 Foods to Help Control Diabetes

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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