If you are diabetic, you need to choose your vegetables as carefully as you choose your fruits. A diabetic’s diet should be made up of low carb or low sugar vegetables. Read more here
Type 2 Diabetes is a complex health condition that can be managed with lifestyle habits such as exercising regularly and following a healthy and balanced diet. A diabetic diet should limit or exclude foods that cause a sudden spike in blood glucose (sugar) levels. Low carbohydrate and low sugar vegetables are ideal for diabetics. Keep reading to find out more about low-carb vegetables for the better management of diabetes.
What are the Benefits of Eating Low Carbohydrate and Low Sugar Vegetables?
A balanced diet comprising all food groups is an essential aspect of the management of diabetes, and thus, vegetables should form an important part of a diabetic’s diet. Vegetables contain protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and contribute to your overall well-being.
However, not all vegetables are constituted the same. Due to their diet restrictions, diabetics have to pay attention to how much carbohydrate is contained in a vegetable. Starchy vegetables such as corn, potatoes, and yams are high in carbohydrates and can have a direct effect on your blood glucose (sugar) levels. Thus, they should be consumed in moderation.
Eating more non-starchy or low-carb vegetables can provide you with essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fibre, without spiking your blood sugar levels. Low carbohydrate vegetables also contain less sugar and can be termed as low sugar vegetables.
The amount of carbohydrates in a vegetable can be indicated on the Glycemic Index (GI) scale. The GI scale assigns a number to carbohydrate-containing foods according to how much the food increases blood sugar levels.
The index ranges from 1 to 100 and is divided as follows:
- 55 or less: Low GI foods
- Between 56 and 69: Medium GI foods
- 70 or higher: High GI foods
Low-carb vegetables have a GI of less than 55 and are considered ideal for diabetes management because they have a lesser impact on your blood glucose levels.
Let’s have a look at some low carb vegetables that diabetics can include in their diet.
Top 5 Low Carbohydrate Vegetables
These vegetables offer nutritional benefits to support the overall health of individuals with diabetes without spiking their blood sugar levels:
Mushrooms come in various types. Most of them have similar nutritional profiles and can be great for individuals with diabetes. 100 g of white mushrooms contains the following nutrients:
- Carbohydrate: 3.26g
- Fibre: 1 g
- Protein: 3.09 g
- Starch: 0 g
- Sugar: 1.98 g
The GI of mushrooms is between 10-15, which is extremely low. Mushrooms are rich in selenium and certain B vitamins, which are linked to improved brain function. Selenium is also a potent antioxidant that plays a key role in thyroid function.
You can savour mushrooms by grilling or roasting them, or adding them to soups, sandwiches, or curries.
Spinach is a non-starchy vegetable, a rich source of fibre, and has a low GI of 15, which makes it a great vegetable for diabetes. Every 100 g of raw spinach leaves provides the following nutrients:
- Carbohydrate: 3.63 g
- Fibre: 2.2 g
- Protein: 2.86 g
- Starch: 0 g
- Sugar: 0.42 g
Spinach is high in iron, folate, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K1, and potassium content. The antioxidants in spinach help fight oxidative stress.
You can try adding spinach to omelettes or curries or even consider adding it to your salads, soups, and stews.
Kale is a powerhouse of nutrition with fascinating benefits for diabetics. Kale has a very low GI, between 2 and 4.
Following is the nutritional profile of 100 g of raw kale:
- Carbohydrate: 4.42 g
- Fibre: 4.1 g
- Protein: 2.92 g
- Starch: 0 g
- Sugar: 0.8 g
Apart from being packed with antioxidants, kale also provides more than your average daily recommended intake of vitamin A and vitamin C, which is beneficial for eye and bone health, and even helps prevent chronic diseases.
Use kale just like you would spinach, to make delicious and nutritious pastas, salads, and soups.
Apart from being loaded with beneficial vitamins, minerals, and fibre, broccoli has a very low GI of 15. 100 g of raw broccoli provides the following nutrients:
- Carbohydrate: 6.64 g
- Fibre: 2.6 g
- Protein: 2.82 g
- Starch: 0 g
- Sugar: 1.7 g
Broccoli is rich in vitamins C and K, and may help decrease insulin resistance in Type 2 Diabetes. It is also considered to protect against several types of cancer, including prostate cancer.
You can eat broccoli raw, or blanch, steam, or stir fry it to retain the nutrients. You can prepare broccoli soup or add broccoli to your snacks or daily meals.
One of the most popular low-carb vegetables, the GI of cauliflower is between 5 to 15. Despite being low in calories and carbs, cauliflower scores very high in nutritional content.
The following is the nutritional value of 100 g of cauliflower:
- Carbohydrate: 4.97 g
- Fibre: 2 g
- Protein: 1.92 g
- Starch: 0 g
- Sugar: 1.91 g
Cauliflower is high in vitamins K, C, B6, and folate. It also contains potassium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. It is high in fibre and promotes digestive health. It is also a good source of antioxidants and may help prevent heart disease and cancer.
You can consume it raw, or cook it by steaming, roasting, or sautéing it. It can be added to curries or combined with soups and salads.
Don’t Have Time To Read?
- High carbohydrate or starchy vegetables such as corn, potatoes, and yams have a direct effect on your blood glucose (sugar) levels and should be consumed in moderation.
- Low carbohydrate or non-starchy vegetables can provide you with essential nutrients without spiking your blood sugar levels. Low carbohydrate vegetables also contain less sugar and can be termed as low sugar vegetables.
- Low carbohydrate vegetables include mushroom, spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and others.
- These low carbohydrate and low sugar vegetables are high in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and also help manage blood sugar levels.
- Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides 360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.
Friendly Asked Questions
Almost all vegetables contain carbohydrates and sugars in different amounts. However, nutritionists and dieticians use the terms low-carb and low-sugar vegetables while referring to vegetables that contain low or negligible amounts of carbohydrates and sugar. These vegetables do not cause your blood sugar levels to spike and are ideal for diabetics. Mushroom, spinach, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli are a few examples of such vegetables.
Carrots are not high in sugar. A medium carrot, weighing around 60 g, contains about 3 g of sugar. Further, the glycemic index of raw carrots is only 16, which is very low as compared to other vegetables. Individuals with diabetes can safely consume carrots.
Cabbage is a low GI food (GI score: 15), and 100 g of cabbage contains around 5.8 g of carbohydrates. Further, cabbage is a low-calorie vegetable with a high fibre content and thus does not cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels.
Yes, diabetics can safely eat tomatoes. Tomatoes are non-starchy and also have a low glycaemic index, which makes them an excellent food choice for diabetics.