Eating on the run can be a challenge if you have diabetes. Rather than reaching for high-calorie treats, which can cause a sugar rush, try these off-the-shelf, nutritious diabetic snack ideas to keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel and maintain a healthy weight.
Unsalted almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, and walnuts are high in protein and fiber and contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can help lower your cholesterol levels. Remember to eat them sparingly, however, because they are high in calories and contain some carbohydrates. Just an ounce (roughly a handful) is all you need.
If you're in the mood for something creamier, nut butters are a wonderful alternative; they keep blood-sugar levels steady while satisfying your appetite for hours.
While popcorn is considered a carbohydrate, it is still a safe, savory treat for people with diabetes. This whole-grain snack contains fiber, which helps control blood sugar levels, and has a low glycemic load compared to other traditional snack foods. Avoid movie theater popcorn and prepackaged microwavable popcorn, which can be high in fat and sodium, and make your own healthy popcorn at home (without adding sugar or unhealthy fat). A one-cup serving of air-popped popcorn contains approximately six grams of carbohydrates and is a perfect snack for curing cravings.
Raisins and Pumpkin Seeds
Want something sweet and crunchy? Try a mix of raisins and pumpkin seeds for an ideal carb/protein combo. Pumpkin seeds are rich in nutrients, including magnesium, which your body needs to regulate blood pressure and control blood glucose. Raisins are a good source fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. Be mindful of portion control with this healthy snack. Both foods are calorie-dense, and dried fruit tends to pack a high-carb punch.
Nonfat or Low-Fat Yogurt
For a creamy, satisfying snack, try a 6 oz. serving of nonfat or low-fat yogurt. These varieties of yogurt are low in carbohydrates, high in protein, and are also a good source of calcium. Calcium promotes bone health, which is particularly important if you have type 1 diabetes, which has been linked to low bone density, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Again, when choosing a yogurt, be sure to read the nutrition facts and avoid products that contain added sugar.
Tuna Fish and Whole-Grain Crackers
Get a dose of protein and a dash of fiber from this savory snack, along with the added bonus of omega-3 fatty acids. The fiber found in whole grains can lower blood sugar and cholesterol, and protein-rich tuna fills you up to help curb hunger. It's a diabetic snack that won't break the blood sugar bank.
Hummus helps you feel full and also aids in digestion. While chickpeas (the main ingredient in hummus) are high in calories, they are also high in fiber and protein. Both fiber and protein can help keep your blood glucose levels stable. Chickpeas are one of the primary components of the Mediterranean Diet, which has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Try some hummus as a dip with veggies, or spread it on whole-grain crackers or whole-grain pita bread.
You could cancel out the benefits of these diabetic snack ideas if you pair them with sugary drinks such as soda or fruit juice. These beverages will raise blood glucose levels and include a wallop of calories in just one serving. If you're craving something other than water, mix things up with a refreshing flavored seltzer. It's fat-, calorie-, and worry-free.
Mayo Clinic, Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
United States Department of Agriculture, Food Composition Databases
American Diabetes Association, What Can I Eat?
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Diabetic Living, Snack Savvy: 14 Diabetic Snack Ideas
University of California San Francisco Medical Center, Increasing Fiber Intake
National Institutes of Health, What People With Diabetes Need to Know About Osteoporosis
Healthline, Diabetes and Yogurt: The Do's and Don'ts
Mayo Clinic, Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet
New England Journal of Medicine, Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet