If you’re here searching for information on what green vegetable is bad for diabetes, you should know there are many green vegetables that are good for you. And yet fingerling potatoes, peas and lima beans top the list of foods to avoid with diabetes.
Did you know that eating the wrong green vegetable could be bad for diabetics? Vegetables are a key component of a healthy diet, but not all veggies are created equal.
Green Vegetables That Are Bad For Diabetes
Around 1 in 10¹ Americans have diabetes, which causes high blood sugar levels. If left untreated, it can result in serious health concerns such as heart and kidney diseases and vision loss. An early diagnosis and comprehensive treatment can help you control your blood sugar levels and avoid these complications.
Treatment options might include getting more exercise or taking medication. Nevertheless, one of the most meaningful things you can do for your blood sugar levels is to pay attention to what you eat.
The ideal diet is well-balanced, low in simple carbohydrates, and packed with fruits and vegetables.
Not all vegetables are good for a diabetes-friendly diet, though. You’ll need to know which veggies to put on your plate and which to avoid. Learn more about which green vegetables you should be eating to manage your blood sugar levels.
Understanding diabetes and why diet matters
Glucose fuels your body. After you consume carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, sending it to the rest of the body through your bloodstream. A hormone called insulin moves the glucose out of your bloodstream and into your cells for energy.
When you have diabetes, you have either developed a resistance to insulin or your body isn’t producing enough of it. That means glucose stays in your bloodstream, raising your blood sugar levels.
If these levels remain high for a long period, it can cause serious health problems such as heart and kidney diseases, vision loss, and an increased risk of infection.
There are many treatment options for diabetes. Getting more exercise can burn energy and naturally reduce your blood sugar. There are also oral medications and insulin injections to keep blood glucose levels in a healthy range. Changing your diet can have a big impact.
As your body gets glucose from carbohydrates, eating a diet low in carbs could keep your blood sugar levels in check. By eating fewer carbs, your body requires less insulin to process them. That means you should try to avoid carbohydrates found in table sugar, baked goods, and sugary drinks.
Replacing these carbs with fruits and vegetables high in fiber and antioxidants could delay the development of type 2 diabetes.
Fiber is essential for people with diabetes as it helps them feel fuller for longer, slowing down the digestive process. That can help you make healthier choices when you are hungry. Antioxidants are good for eliminating free radicals, which studies have linked with the development of diabetes.²
Which green vegetables are bad for diabetes?
Not all vegetables are suitable when it comes to a diabetes-friendly diet. You’ll want to avoid vegetables high in carbohydrates, such as:
There are more than 12g of carbohydrates in 100g of potatoes.³ The way you prepare them can increase those carbs, too. If you want to include potatoes in your meal, stick with boiling them instead of frying them.
Sweet yellow corn has more than 18g of carbs for every 100g serving,⁴ roughly equal to one ear of corn.
One cup of cubed raw butternut squash has over 16g of carbohydrates.⁵ This is another vegetable that you’ll need to carefully prepare if you want to add it to your plate, as baking it can increase the number of carbs you are consuming.
Another vegetable that’s high in carbohydrates is pea. One cup of raw green peas has more than 20g of carbohydrates.⁶ A low-carb diet contains less than 130g of carbohydrates a day,⁷ so one cup of peas is more than 10% of your daily carb allowance.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat peas at all, though. They are packed with nutrients and are a good source of protein, fiber, and vitamins C and E. However, you may want to limit how often you eat them. Incorporate other more diabetic-friendly vegetables into your meals.
Which types of green vegetables can people with diabetes eat?
Many vegetables are perfect for your plate if you are looking for low-carb, high-fiber options. Instead of corn, potatoes, or butternut squash, opt for leafy green vegetables. These include:
One cup of raw kale has less than a gram of carbohydrates, so you can pile it onto your plate. It’s great for mixing into soups, stews, and traybake recipes. You can also bake it in the oven and enjoy crunchy kale chips. Kale has a lot of antioxidants, which help destroy damaging free radicals in your body.
If you aren’t a fan of kale, try collard greens or Swiss chard instead.
Enjoy a cup of raw spinach and add only about 1g of carbohydrates to your plate. Spinach is full of protein, which can help you feel full for longer and avoid unhealthy snack choices between meals. You can add spinach to various meals, including pasta, soups, and salads.
In addition, try including arugula, endive, and other salads in your diet.
One cup of shredded cabbage has just 4g of carbs. It’s also packed with vitamin C and calcium. There are a lot of cabbage varieties to enjoy, including bok choy, Chinese cabbage, and red cabbage.
Cabbage is a versatile vegetable that you can enjoy raw, boiled, or pickled to change its flavor while still getting its delicious benefits.
There are many other great veggie options, including asparagus, broccoli, carrots, and green beans. They are all low in calories and carbohydrates while being high in fiber. These qualities avoid causing spikes in your blood sugar, reducing the amount of insulin that your body needs.
There is evidence that switching to a plant-based diet could help you manage diabetes, too.
The best vegetables for type 2 diabetes
Having type 2 diabetes should not mean having to avoid delicious food. Vegetables should be a central part of the diet for people with type 2 diabetes and can be delicious and filling.
No food item is strictly forbidden for people with type 2 diabetes. Healthful eating for people with diabetes is all about controlling portion size and preparing a careful balance of nutrients.
The best vegetables for type 2 diabetes are low on the glycemic index (GI) scale, rich in fiber, or high in nitrates that reduce blood pressure.
In this article, we look at the best vegetables for people with type 2 diabetes. We also explain why vegetables are so important for people who are monitoring blood sugar, and we offer a range of tasty meal ideas.
Best vegetables for type 2 diabetes
Eating a wide variety of foods, including a mix of certain vegetables, can help people with diabetes stay healthy while enjoying a range of meals.
The GI ranking of a food shows how quickly the body absorbs glucose from that food. The body absorbs blood sugar much faster from high-GI foods than low-GI foods.
People with diabetes should eat vegetables with a low GI score to avoid blood sugar spikes.
Not all vegetables are safe for people with diabetes, and some have a high GI. Boiled potatoes, for example, have a GI of 78.
The GI scores for some popular vegetables are:
- Frozen green peas score 39 on the GI index.
- Carrots score 41 when boiled and 16 when raw.
- Broccoli scores 10.
- Tomatoes score 15.
Low-GI vegetables are also safe for people with diabetes, such as:
- green beans
- snow peas
It is important to note that the GI gives a relative value to each food item and does not refer to the specific sugar content. Glycemic load (GL) refers to how much glucose will enter the body in one serving of a food.
Nitrates are chemicals that naturally occur in specific vegetables. Some manufacturers use them as preservatives in foods.
Eating natural, nitrate-rich foods can reduce blood pressure and improve overall circulatory healthTrusted Source. People should choose vegetables with naturally high nitrate content, rather than those with nitrate that manufacturers have added during processing.
Nitrate-rich vegetables include:
- beets and beet juice
Protein-rich foods help people feel fuller for longerTrusted Source, reducing the urge to snack between meals.
Daily protein recommendations depend on a person’s size, sex, activity level, and other factors. People can speak to a doctor for the best insight on what their ideal daily protein intake should be.
Pregnant or lactating women, highly active people, and those with large bodies need more protein than others.
Vegetables higher than some others in protein include:
- bok choy
- mustard greens
- Brussels sprouts
Fiber should come from real, natural food, not supplements, making vegetables essential in a glucose-controlled diet. Fiber can help reduce constipation, reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol, and help with weight control.
The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics say that the correct amount of fiber per day is 25 grams (g) for women and 38 g for men.
This recommendation varies, depending on body size, overall health, and similar factors.
Vegetables and fruits with high fiber content include:
- Brussels sprouts
- split peas
Why choose vegetables?
Good carbohydrates provide both nutrients and energy, making them a safe, efficient, and nutritious food choice for people with diabetes.
Low-to-moderate-GI vegetables, such as carrots, improve blood glucose control and reduce the risk of weight gain.
Nitrate-rich foods, such as beets, are among the best vegetables for people with type 2 diabetes who also have a higher than usual risk of cardiovascular disease. This fact remains true despite their high carbohydrate content.
The key to effective food management is to boost vegetable intake and reduce carbohydrate consumption elsewhere in the diet by cutting down on foods such as bread or sugary snacks.
A person with diabetes should include sufficient amounts of fiber and protein in the diet. Many dark, leafy greens are rich in fiber, protein, and other vital nutrients.
Fiber can help control blood glucose levels. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes have excellent fiber content.
Vegetables also support improved levels of healthy cholesterol and lower blood pressure. As with protein, fiber can make people feel fuller for longer.
The Top Worst Foods if You Have Diabetes
If you have diabetes, in many ways your diet is your medicine. As diabetes educators, we help patients understand what food and beverage choices are best to avoid. When foods are high in carbohydrates, fat and sodium, they increase your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, heart disease and uncontrolled sugar.
Top 10 offenders
- Sweetened drinks. These include regular pop/soda, fruit punches and iced teas. These are loaded with sugar and calories, and they usually have little or no nutritional value. Instead, try infusing plain water with different berries and fruits so you can enjoy the natural sweetness.
- “Designer” or specialty coffee drinks – including frappuccinos or cappuccinos. That “once a day special treat” can add up to lots of extra sugar, calories and saturated fat. Instead, go for straight java, either black, with artificial sweetener or a small splash of skim milk.
- Whole milk. It has too much fat, which can lead to weight gain. Switch to 2% , 1% – or even better: skim milk. Keep in mind that one cup of skim milk has 12 grams of carbohydrates. If you don’t like milk or are lactose intolerant, you can drink almond milk, rice milk or soy milk instead—but remember to get the low sugar varieties.
- Hot dogs. These grilled little favorites are still high in saturated fat and sodium—yes, that even includes turkey dogs! Try to avoid them or eat them only occasionally.
- Packaged lunch meats. These are also high in saturated fat and sodium. Check your deli for low sodium meats—or better yet use sliced meat that you’ve roasted at home to make your sandwiches. Also remember that sandwich toppings can be very unhealthy too (think high-fat mayonnaise). Instead add flavor to your sandwiches with mustard, veggies and/or a little bit of hummus.
- Sweetened cereals. These are high in carbohydrates because of the added sugar. Go for the plain cereals and add a little fruit or artificial sweetener.