Tomatoes good for diabetics

There are some basic rules when it comes to following the keto diet. Fat and protein are good, while carbs and sugars are enemy No.1. And while fruit is generally considered a healthy food, it’s severely limited on keto thanks to its typical carb and sugar content.

That raises a huge question: What’s the deal with tomatoes? Technically, they’re a fruit, but pretty much everyone treats them like a vegetable. So, are tomatoes keto-friendly or not?

Contents

First, a quick primer on the keto diet…

Keto is short for ketogenic diet, which focuses on eating plenty of fats and minimal carbs. This gets your body into a state known as ketosis, where your body burns fat for energy, explains Scott Keatley, R.D., of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy.

Everyone’s needs on keto are a little different but, in general, you want to aim to have 60 to 75 percent of your calories from fat, 15 to 30 percent of your calories from protein, and five to 10 percent of your calories from carbs. For keto fans, that usually means limiting your carb intake to less than 50 grams a day, although some people who are on the more hardcore end of keto try to have less than 20 grams of carbs a day.

So, are tomatoes keto?

Yup. “Tomatoes, which are technically a fruit, are keto-friendly,” Keatley says. Your standard tomatoes have four grams of carbs and two grams of sugar per half cup serving, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). However, the counts vary a little depending on the type of tomato you go for. Grape tomatoes contain three grams of carbs per half cup serving, while cherry tomatoes have six grams of carbs and four grams of sugar. Still, it shouldn’t be a biggie if this fits into your overall carb counts.

“If you’re on keto, you should not be on a zero carbohydrate diet,” Keatley points out. “Tomatoes, which have carbohydrates, are low in sugar, have fiber, and, more importantly, have phytonutrients that you may be lacking on a strict keto diet.”

When it comes to eating tomatoes on the keto diet, Keatley recommends opting for whole tomatoes and skipping store-bought sauce (they can be loaded with added sugar, which is definitely not keto-friendly).

For the record, you don’t need to worry that you’ll completely screw up your ketosis if you have a tomato (or two) on any given day. “You’d likely need to eat five to six medium tomatoes to upset the balance of carbohydrates,” Keatley says.

Korin Miller Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Self, Glamour, and more.

Tomatoes in a Diabetic Diet?

Tomatoes often get a bad rap for having “too much sugar.” I hear this myth often in my diabetes education practice. Carrots are another vegetable that seems to suffer the same reputation. Tomatoes are not high in sugar, and neither are carrots.
Tomatoes, similar to carrots, are considered a non-starchy vegetable in meal planning for diabetes. This means that the amount of naturally occurring sugar is minimal in a serving. A non-starchy vegetable serving is ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw and contains approximately 2 grams of sugar and 4 grams of total carbohydrates (amount of starches and sugars added together).
How does this compare to fruits and starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, peas, and beans? A serving of a fruit or starchy vegetable, such as a small apple or ½ cup of beans, contains about 2 to 15 grams of sugar and 15 grams of total carbohydrate. In other words, non-starchy vegetables like tomatoes contain less sugar and carbohydrate.
The total amount of carbohydrates in food affects glucose levels in people with diabetes. The bottom line is that tomatoes are not high in total carbohydrates or sugar and are an excellent source of B vitamins like folate, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. Non-starchy vegetables of all shapes, taste, and colors are a valuable part of meal planning for people with and without diabetes
Meeting with a Registered Dietitian or Certified Diabetes Educator can help you get specific recommendations for meal-time amounts of total carbohydrates.

Amount of Sugar in Tomatoes

Welcome to the nutritional sugar content in 9 different types of tomatoes, ranging from 37.59 g to 2.38 g per 100g. The basic type of tomatoes is Tomatoes, sun-dried, where the amount of sugar in 100g is 37.59 g.

For a typical serving size of 1 cup (or 54 g) the amount of Sugar is 20.3 g.

Top five tomatoes products high in sugar

Below is a summary list for the top five tomatoes items ranked by the amount or level of sugar in 100g.

Following on from the five top tomatoes items or products containing sugar we have a more comprehensive break down of Tomatoes, sun-dried, and the highest item containing sugar which is Tomatoes, sun-dried. We also give a comparison of average values, median values and lowest values along with a comparison with other food groups and assess the effects of storage and preparation on the 9 types of tomatoes.

At the bottom of the page is the full list for the 9 different types of tomatoes based on the content in different servings in grams and oz (and other serving sizes), providing a comprehensive analysis of the sugar content in tomatoes.

Tomatoes, sun-dried – Nutritional Content and Chart

The full nutrition content, RDA percentages and levels for Tomatoes, sun-dried should be considered along with the sugar content. This food profile is part of our list of food and drinks under the general group Vegetables and Vegetable Products.Other important and sugar related nutrients are Calories, Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate. For this 100g serving in your diet, the amount of Calories is 258 kcal (13% RDA), the amount of Protein is 14.11 g (25% RDA), the amount of Fat is 2.97 g (5% RDA) and the amount of Carbohydrate is 55.76 g (43% RDA). The nutritional content and facts for 100g, which includes Calories, Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate is shown in the RDA chart below as percentages of the recommended daily allowance along with the sugar levels in tomatoes.

Our proprietary nutritional density score gives a nutritional value out of 100 based on 9 different vitamins, minerals and macro nutrients. Tomatoes, sun-dried has a nutritional value score of 21 out of 100.Comparing the sugar content and the nutritional density in 100g for Tomatoes, sun-dried; We class this as a high sugar content item.In terms of overall nutritional value we class this as an item with a high nutritional density value.

Amount of sugar per 100 Calories

100 calories of tomatoes, sun-dried is a serving size of 0.39 g, and the amount of Sugar is 14.57 g (16.28% RDA). Other important and related nutrients and macronutrients such as Fat, in 100 Calories are as follows; Protein 5.47 g (9.69% RDA), Fat 1.15 g (1.94% RDA), Carbohydrate 21.61 g (16.67% RDA). This is shown in the sugar RDA percentage chart below, based on 100 Calories, along with the other important nutrients and macro nutrients.

Content per Typical Serving Size 1 cup (or 54 g)

For the food Tomatoes, sun-dried the typical serving size is 1 cup (or 54 g) which contains 20.3 g of Sugar. The sugar percentage of the recommended daily value for this serving is 23 %.

To give 100% of the RDA, 4.3 servings of the typical serving size 1 cup (or 54 g) give the complete RDA. In terms of the gram weight and total content for this serving the Calories content is 139.32 kcal, the Protein content is 7.62 g, the Fat content is 1.6 g and the Carbohydrate content is 30.11 g. The percentages are shown below in the sugar chart, for the typical serving of sugar and the related and important nutritional values.

Macronutrients in Tomatoes, sun-dried

The amount of protein, fat and carbs from this food described above is measured in grams per 100g and grams in a typical serving size (in this case 1 cup or 54 g), although it is also useful to give the number of calories from protein, fat and carbohydrate which are the most important macronutrients. For this serving in your diet here are the macronutrient calories. From protein the number of calories is 18.6 (kcal).The number of calories from Fat is 13.4 (kcal).The total calories from carbohydrate is 107.5 (kcal).

Grams of sugar in tomatoes (per 100g)

This list of 9 types of tomatoes, is brought to you by www.dietandfitnesstoday.com and ranges from Tomatoes, sun-dried through to Tomatoes, red, ripe, canned, packed in tomato juice, no salt added where all food items are ranked by the content or amount per 100g. The nutritional sugar content can be scaled by the amount in grams, oz or typical serving sizes. Simply click on a food item or beverage from the list at the bottom of the page to give a full dietary nutritional breakdown to answer the question how much sugar in tomatoes.

The list below gives the total sugar content in the 9 items from the general description ‘tomatoes’ each of which show the sugar amount as well as Calories, Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate. Below, is the top 9 food items shown in the sugar chart. This gives a quick and easy dietary comparison for the different items, where each item is listed at the bottom of the page with a nutritional summary.

The corresponding nutritional value for tomatoes based on our density score out of 100 (ranked by the amount of sugar per 100g) is shown in the below nutritional density chart.

The corresponding Calories for tomatoes ranked by the amount of sugar per 100g is shown below in the tomatoes calories chart.

Effect of Preparation and Storage on sugar

The level of sugar can be affected by the method of storage for example canned or frozen and also by the method of preparation for example either raw, cooked or fried. The number of food items classified as canned is 4 items. The highest amount of sugar from the 4 canned items is in Tomatoes, crushed, canned where the level is 4.4 g per 100g.The total food items which are raw is 2 items. The highest amount of sugar from the 2 raw items is in Tomatoes, green, raw where the content is 4 g per 100g. The number of food items which are cooked are 2 items. The highest amount of sugar from the 2 cooked items is in Tomatoes, red, ripe, cooked where the amount is 2.49 g per 100g. Comparing raw and cooked tomatoes shows that cooking can change the levels of sugar by 1.51 g in a 100g serving.

Average Content for tomatoes

The average (or more correctly the arithmetic mean) amount of sugar contained in 100g of tomatoes, based on the list below of 9 different items under the general description of tomatoes, is 6.88 g of sugar. This average value corresponds to 7.64 % of the recommended dietary allowance (or RDA) in your diet. The averages for the different nutrients are as follows; the average amount of Calories is 47.44 kcal, the average amount of Protein is 2.47 g, the average amount of Fat is 0.48 g and the average amount of Carbohydrate is g.

Median Amount

The median value of Sugar is found in Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year round average which in 100g contains 2.63 g of Sugar. This corresponds to 3 % of the recommended daily allowance. For this serving the amount of Calories is 18 kcal, the amount of Protein is 0.88 g, the amount of Fat is 0.2 g and the amount of Carbohydrate is 3.89 g.

Highest sugar Content per 100g

Using the list below for the 9 different tomatoes nutrition entries in our database, the highest amount of sugar is found in Tomatoes, sun-dried which contains 37.59 g of sugar per 100g. The associated percentage of RDA is 42 %. For this 100g serving the Calories content is 258 kcal, the Protein content is 14.11 g, the Fat content is 2.97 g, the Carbohydrate content is 55.76 g.

The lowest amount of sugar in 100g is in Tomatoes, red, ripe, canned, packed in tomato juice, no salt added which contains 2.38 g. This gives as percentage of the recommended daily allowance 3 % of the RDA. For this 100g serving the amount of Calories is 17 kcal, the amount of Protein is 0.78 g, the amount of Fat is 0.13 g, the amount of Carbohydrate is 4 g.

The difference between the highest and lowest values gives a sugar range of 35.21 g per 100g. The range for the other nutrients are as follows; 241 kcal for Calories, 13.33 g for Protein, 2.84 g for Fat, 0 g for Carbohydrate.

Highest Amount of sugar per Serving

Please remember that the above gives an accurate value in 100g for high sugar foods in your diet. For example 100g of Tomatoes, sun-dried contains 37.59 g of sugar. However, there are other factors to consider when you are assessing your nutritional requirements. You should also take into account portion sizes when you are considering the sugar nutritional content.

The food with the highest sugar content per typical serving is Tomatoes, sun-dried which contains 20.3 g in 1 cup (or 54 g). The percentage of the recommended daily value for this serving is 23 %. For this serving the Calories content is 139.32 kcal, the Protein content is 7.62 g, the Fat content is 1.6 g and the Carbohydrate content is 30.11 g.

Nutritional Information Summary

From the list below you can find a full nutrition facts breakdown for all foods containing sugar which can be scaled for different servings and quantities. We have also sorted our complete nutritional information and vitamin database of over 7000 foods, to give a list of foods with a high sugar content

The 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.

Low-GI vegetables

Share on PinterestLow-GI vegetables can help prevent sugar spikes.

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:

  • artichoke
  • asparagus
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • green beans
  • lettuce
  • eggplant
  • peppers
  • snow peas
  • spinach
  • celery

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.

High-nitrate content

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 health. People should choose vegetables with naturally high nitrate content, rather than those with nitrate that manufacturers have added during processing.

Nitrate-rich vegetables include:

  • arugula
  • beets and beet juice
  • lettuce
  • celery
  • rhubarb

Protein

Protein-rich foods help people feel fuller for longer, 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:

  • spinach
  • bok choy
  • asparagus
  • mustard greens
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cauliflower

Fiber

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:

  • carrots
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • artichoke
  • Brussels sprouts
  • split peas
  • avocados

Learn more about the benefits of fiber here.

5 Vegetables You Must Include In Your Diabetes Diet

Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that result in too much sugar in the blood (high blood glucose). There are various types of diabetes that the experts have classified: Type 1, 2, Pre diabetes, gestational diabetes. Late diagnosis, lack of awareness often makes diabetes management a difficult affair for many. Diabetes is also linked with a variety of conditions such as obesity and a range of heart ailments. Nutritionists assure that a healthy and proper diet, and fit lifestyle could help you manage your diabetes better. Off late there are many diabetics who have also reported that they were able to reverse the condition after taking all the necessary precautions.
(Also Read : How To Control Diabetes Naturally: 5 Remedies To Manage Your Sugar Levels)Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that result in too much sugar in the blood
An ideal diabetes diet is a mix of many factors. Sugary and refined foods are a strict no-no. The carbs present in these foods metabolise too fast and cause the blood sugar levels to surge. Sugary drinks are no good either. The lack of fibre and liquid calories make it worse to manage your sugar levels. One must prioritise foods that are rich in fibre and low in GIycemic Index. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbs with low GI value (55 or less) are digested, absorbed and metabolised slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood glucose. Carbohydrates with a GI higher than 70 cause marked fluctuations in the blood glucose levels. These abnormal fluctuations have been correlated to Type 2 diabetes.(Also Read: What is Glycemic Index? 8 Low GI Foods You Must include In your Diet​)An ideal diabetes diet is a mix of many factors

Here are some vegetables that diabetics must include in their diabetes diet

1. Bitter gourd
Its bitter-pungent taste may have taken a toll on the veggie’s popularity, but the truth is that bitter gourd or karela is one of the healthiest and antioxidant rich foods that you can add to your diet. Bitter gourd contains active substances that lend anti-diabetic properties like charantin, which is known for its blood glucose-lowering effect and an insulin-like compound known as polypeptide-p. And for those wondering how to up its intake, here are 5 delicious ways to help you out.
(Also Read: Bitter Gourd For Diabetes: Here’s How Karela Juice Is One of The Best Beverages For Diabetics)Bitter gourd or karela is one of the healthiest and antioxidant rich food
2. Spinach
There must be a reason why Popeye couldn’t stop gushing about his love for spinach and there are plenty of reasons for you to join the brigade too. Spinach is also a great source of folate, dietary fibre, vitamins A, B, C, E and K. Fibre delays digestion, which ensures that the sugar is not metabolised quickly and cause a surge in blood sugar levels.
(Also Read: Spinach Nutrition: Amazing Cooking Tips And Health Benefits)Spinach is also a great source of folate, dietary fibre, vitamins A, B, C, E and K
3. Cauliflower
The floret is a storehouse of vital minerals and nutrients. The superfood is also loaded with, protein, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and manganese. The GI of cauliflower is calculated to be between 5 to 15, which is ideal for people with diabetes. Cauliflower also has high-fibre content which is further beneficial to check blood sugar fluctuations.
The floret is a storehouse of vital minerals and nutrients
4. Broccoli
The nutritional powerhouse broccoli has umpteen reasons to be a part of your fit and fabulous diet. Consultant nutritionist Dr. Rupali Datta tells us that broccoli has a GI of 15, which is very low. It is an exceptional source of fibre, all of which makes it an excellent food for diabetics. One of the major areas of concerns among diabetics is the damage caused to blood vessels. In a lab study published in the journal “Diabetes” in 2008, a team of researchers found that sulforaphanes in broccoli protect against this type of cell damage. In another lab study, researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that sulforaphanes reduced production of glucose in liver cells.
The nutritional powerhouse broccoli has umpteen reasons to be a part of your fit and fabulous diet
5. Asparagus
You have seen them in stews, risottos and salads. Asparagus is used extensively in Italian and continental cuisine. In addition to adding a delicious flavour to your dishes, asparagus could also help keep your blood sugar in check.The non-starchy vegetable has just 20 calories, and almost 2 grams of dietary fibre per serving. It’s especially high in an antioxidant called glutathione, which has been known to regulate sugar levels and increase insulin production.
Asparagus is used extensively in Italian and continental cuisine
Load up on this food and keep your blood sugar levels in check, naturally.

About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.

When you have type 2 diabetes, one of the most difficult dietary challenges is avoidance of certain foods you love…namely starches – pasta, bread, rolls, rice, and potatoes.

One of the things we try to do here at Diabetes Meal Plans, is provide healthy alternatives to foods you already love and miss. These may not have the same exact taste and texture as the originals, they can be wonderful substitutes. And the greatest benefit is, they won’t compromise your health and spike blood sugar levels in the way that white flour and sugar surely will.

Enter cauliflower – a cruciferous vegetable, part of the brassica family of vegetables, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and others.

As a diabetic, you may have heard the expression: “Stay away from white foods?”

Cauliflower is the exception!

Not only is it a low calorie, low carb vegetable, but it can be manipulated to provide some great alternatives to the starchy foods you so miss.

White cauliflower is most commonly used, but there are also green, orange and even purple cauliflower varieties available as well.

Cauliflower Nutrition Facts

  • Cauliflower is very low in calories at only 29 per 1 cup cooked
  • Cauliflower has a very low glycemic index of 15 or less
  • Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C, providing 73% of recommended daily value in a serving
  • Cauliflower is a good source of vitamin K (19% of daily recommendation) and many other vitamins and minerals
  • Cauliflower provides a unique group of phytochemicals called “glucosinolates”
  • Cauliflower is a rich source of a multitude of antioxidants

Cauliflower (1 cup raw, 107 g)

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 27 | Total Fat: 0.30 g | Sat Fat: 0.139 g | Poly: 0.033 g | Mono: 0.036 g | Total Carbs: 5.32 g | Fiber: 2.1 g | Net Carbs: 3.22 g | Protein: 2.05 g

Minerals

Calcium: 24 mg | Iron: 0.45 mg | Magnesium: 16 mg | Phosphorus: 47 mg | Potassium: 320 mg | Zinc: 0.29 mg

Vitamins

Health Benefits of Cauliflower

  • Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, combating cell damage and supports healthy skin and immune system. It is also a key element in brain health, providing nourishment to neurotransmitters that regulate thoughts, feelings and moods.
  • Vitamin K is crucial for blood clotting and bone health.
  • Glucosinolates have been shown to provide cardiovascular, digestive, immune, inflammatory, and detoxification benefits.
  • Additional antioxidants are beneficial in fighting cell damage.

Research on Cauliflower Specific to T2 Diabetes

Cauliflower has been shown to decrease risk of cancer as well as reduce risk of cardiovascular disease by way of improving blood cholesterol. This is good news for diabetics, as there is a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cauliflower has also been linked with reduced obesity in middle aged women.

You’ll also be excited to learn that several studies have also shown a glucose lowering effect with the addition of brassica vegetables.

While certain nutrients are lost in cooking, others become more bioavailable – meaning your body can absorb them more. Therefore it is a good idea to consume cauliflower both in cooked and raw form to gain all the benefits!

Points for Consideration

While cauliflower is perfectly healthy, it is a cruciferous vegetable – along with cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli etc. These are sulfur-containing vegetables and though allergies are very rare, some people may be sensitive to it.

Additionally, sulfurous vegetables can be gas and/or odor producing (yes, we’re talking smelly farts here!) – so if you’re increasing your intake, ease your way in and apologize in advance to loved ones. 🙂

Cauliflower and Diabetes Conclusion

Cauliflower is a very nutrient dense vegetable with a huge array of health benefits for a minimal amount of calories and carbohydrates.

Include it freely in your diet but if you’re prone to gas, introduce smaller amounts gradually, rotating other vegetables into the mix as well.

Cauliflower in the Kitchen

Selection

Look for cauliflower that has a creamy consistent color and firm spongy texture. Avoid those with blemished areas or soft, mushy spots. Thick green leaves still surrounding the cauliflower will help to protect and preserve freshness.

Storage

Cauliflower should be covered and refrigerated stem-side down until ready to use.

Uses

Cauliflower can be cooked (see recipes below) in a variety of ways and simply utilized as a side dish.

It can be eaten raw with ranch veggie dip or guacamole.

It can be used as a potato or rice substitute (see recipes below). AND when cooked and drained, it can actually serve as a base for a bread or pizza crust!

Cooking

Steam cauliflower by placing chopped chunks into steamer over boiling water until crisp/tender about 5-7 minutes.

Boil cauliflower in hot water until soft/tender. Note though, many of the nutrients will be destroyed with very high heat or lost in the water. Adding the cooking water to your dish will help add some back in.

Bake or roast cauliflower in the oven at high heat 350-400°F (150-200°C) with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper for 20-40 minutes until browned and caramelized.

Saute cauliflower into a dish (such as a chili or stir fry) toward the end of cooking.

Cutting Techniques

Cauliflower is relatively easy to cut. It isn’t so soft that it is likely to get smooshed or destroyed, but also not really hard to get into with a knife – like spaghetti squash can be.

Simply tear off the outer green leaves (don’t eat them) and cut in half, then quarters. At this point you can easily cut out the core (similar to an apple). And simply chop the rest up into bite sized pieces.

Or, you can cut off the florets for use as you need them and store the rest of the cauliflower in the fridge.

Here’s a short video of a chef cutting the cauliflower into florets.

Cauliflower Recipes

Simply Baked Cauliflower

Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes”

Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Slow Cooker Chicken Cauliflower Soup

While you’re here, grab our free resources – food list and blood sugar charts with tips.

Diet Tips for Diabetics with Kidney Disease

Diet is one of the most important treatments in managing diabetes and kidney disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with kidney disease as a result of diabetes, you’ll need to work with a dietitian to create an eating plan that’s right for you. This plan will help manage your blood glucose levels and reduce the amount of waste and fluid your kidneys process.

Which nutrients do I need to regulate?

Your dietitian will give you nutritional guidelines that tell you how much protein, fat and carbohydrate you can eat, as well as how much potassium, phosphorus and sodium you can have each day. Because your diet needs to be lower in these minerals, you’ll limit or avoid certain foods, while planning your meals.

Portion control is also important. Talk to your dietitian regarding tips for accurately measuring a serving size. What may be measured as one serving on a regular diet may count as three servings on the kidney diet.

Your doctor and dietitian will also recommend you eat meals and snacks of the same size and calorie/carbohydrate content at certain times of the day to keep your blood glucose at an even level. .It’s important to check blood glucose levels often and share the results with your doctor.

What can I eat?

Below is an example of food choices that are usually recommended on a typical renal diabetic diet. This list is based on sodium, potassium, phosphorus and high sugar content of foods included. Ask your dietitian if you can have any of these listed foods and make sure you know what the recommended serving size should be.

Carbohydrate Foods

Milk and nondairy

Recommended Avoid

Skim or fat-free milk, non-dairy creamer, plain yogurt, sugar-free yogurt, sugar-free pudding, sugar-free ice cream, sugar-free nondairy frozen desserts*

*Portions of dairy products are often limited to 4 ounces due to high protein, potassium or phosphorus content

Chocolate milk, buttermilk, sweetened yogurt, sugar sweetened pudding, sugar sweetened ice cream, sugar sweetened nondairy frozen desserts

Breads and starches

Recommended Avoid

White, wheat, rye, sourdough, whole wheat and whole grain bread, unsweetened, refined dry cereals, cream of wheat, grits, malt-o-meal, noodles, white or whole wheat pasta, rice, bagel (small), hamburger bun, unsalted crackers, cornbread (made from scratch), flour tortilla

Bran bread, frosted or sugar-coated cereals, instant cereals, bran or granola, gingerbread, pancake mix, cornbread mix, biscuits, salted snacks including: potato chips, corn chips and crackers Whole wheat cereals like wheat flakes and raisin bran, oatmeal, and whole grain hot cereals contain more phosphorus and potassium than refined products.

Fruits and juices

Recommended Avoid

Apples, apple juice, applesauce, apricot halves, berries including: strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries and blueberries, low sugar cranberry juice, cherries, fruit cocktail, grapefruit, grapes, grape juice, kumquats, mandarin oranges, pears, pineapple, plums, tangerine, watermelon, fruit canned in unsweetened juice

Avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, dried fruits including: dates, raisins and prunes, fresh pears, honeydew melon, kiwis, kumquats, star fruit, mangos, papaya, nectarines, oranges and orange juice, pomegranate, fruit canned in syrup

Starchy vegetables

Recommended Avoid

Corn, peas, mixed vegetables with corn and peas (eat these less often because they are high in phosphorus), potatoes (soaked to reduce potassium, if needed)

Baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, baked beans, dried beans (kidneys, lima , lentil, pinto or soy), succotash, pumpkin, winter squash

Non-starchy vegetables

Recommended Avoid

Asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, frozen broccoli cuts, green beans, iceberg lettuce, kale, leeks, mustard greens, okra, onions, red and green peppers, radishes, raw spinach (1/2 cup), snow peas, summer squash, turnips

Artichoke, fresh bamboo shoots, beet greens, cactus, cooked Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, rutabagas, sauerkraut , cooked spinach, tomatoes, tomato sauce or paste, tomato juice, vegetable juice

Higher-protein foods

Meats, cheeses and eggs

Recommended Avoid

Lean cuts of meat, poultry, fish and seafood; eggs, low cholesterol egg substitute; cottage cheese (limited due to high sodium content)

Bacon, canned and luncheon meats, cheeses, hot dogs, organ meats, nuts, pepperoni, salami, salmon, sausage

Higher-fat foods

Seasoning and calories

Recommended Avoid

Soft or tub margarine low in trans fats, mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, low fat mayonnaise, low fat sour cream, low fat cream cheese

Bacon fat, back fat, butter, Crisco®, lard, shortening, margarines high in trans fats, whipping cream

Beverages

Recommended Avoid

Water, diet clear sodas, homemade tea or lemonade sweetened with an artificial sweetener

Regular or diet dark colas, beer, fruit juices, fruit-flavored drinks or water sweetened with fruit juices, bottled or canned iced tea or lemonade containing sugar, syrup, or phosphoric acid; tea or lemonade sweetened with real sugar

You may also be instructed to limit or avoid the following sweet and salty foods:

  • Candy
  • Chocolate Regular sugar
  • Syrup
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Baked goods
  • Ice cream
  • Canned foods
  • Condiments
  • Onion, garlic or table salt
  • TV dinners
  • Meat tenderizer
  • Marinades
  • Nuts
  • Pizza
  • Salted chips and snacks

If you need extra help navigating the diabetes diet when you have kidney disease, sign up for the DaVita Diet Helper™, the easy-to-use online diet management tool.

10 fruits and vegetables for diabetes diet

5. Citrus fruits:

We’ve all heard that citrus fruits are filled with vitamin C, but when it comes to the very sweet ones (e.g., oranges), you may worry about their high sugar content. Fortunately, the fibre in these fruits helps to promote satiety, and helps regulate your blood sugar by slowing absorption into the bloodstream. Some citrus fruits such as grapefruit may interact with medications you are taking, so it is important to talk to your pharmacist before adding citrus fruits into your diet.

6. Asparagus:

This is another vegetable that is a great addition to your diabetes meal plan because it’s filled with vitamins, minerals, fibre and has a low GI index. In fact, one serving of asparagus provides 18% of your daily vitamin C and E. It also contains a decent amount of protein (4-5 grams per cup), which helps stabilize your blood sugar levels and keeps you feeling full.

7. Red onion:

Aside from its antioxidant properties, the red onion is another low-GI, low-calorie food that won’t throw your blood sugar levels out of whack. It contains significant amounts of vitamins C and B6, as well as being a good source of chromium, which is essential to regulating blood sugar.

8. Apples:

Fall’s favorite fruit is filled with fibre (especially if you keep the peel on) and vitamin C. Apples also contain chemicals called anthocyanins, which have been shown boost insulin, and may be protective against diabetes and obesity.

Apples, like other fruits, are still a source of carbohydrate, so try to opt for a smaller sized apple (i.e., about the size of tennis ball) and be sure to include the carbohydrates in your meal plan.

Click here for a recipe for a delicious and healthy apple crisp!

9. Zucchini:

This mild-tasting, versatile vegetable is a great option when you have diabetes because it contains vitamin B, zinc and magnesium, which are key to stabilizing blood sugar levels. Zucchini also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are two phytonutrients that promote eye health. Find tips on how to get more vegetables like zucchini into your daily meals here.

10. Cherries:

These delectable, bite-sized fruits also contain anthocyanins, which help control blood sugar. They also contain a multitude of nutrients, including vitamins A, C and B, as well as calcium, iron and fibre. Besides being a great snack, cherries can be added to salads or muffin and pancake recipes for added flavour and nutrients.

Just keep in mind that even with all their health benefits, most of these fruits and vegetables contain sugar, which may affect your carb count. Find more here on how fruits and vegetables can affect your blood sugar targets.

You can also find more diabetes super foods to add to your diet here.

Best Foods for Diabetes

If you have diabetes, it can be hard to figure out how to eat to feel your best and keep your blood sugar under control. But there are lots of diabetic diet-friendly foods you can enjoy. And rather than keeping the focus on what foods to avoid with diabetes, it’s refreshing to focus on the foods you can and should be eating more of. These top foods to eat with diabetes are nutrient-packed powerhouses that can help you control your blood sugar and stay healthy.

Don’t Miss: The Best 30-Day Diabetes Diet Plan

1. Cinnamon

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Pictured Recipe: Turkish Spice Mix

This fragrant spice has been shown to lower cholesterol and keep blood sugar more stable. Just 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon per day improved fasting blood sugar and cholesterol levels in one study published in the journal Diabetes Care, and other studies have shown similar effects. Get your cinnamon fix by sprinkling it into smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal or even your coffee. Another plus for cinnamon? It adds flavor to your food without adding sugar or salt.

2. Nuts

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Pictured Recipe: Toasted Almonds with Rosemary and Cayenne

Walnuts in particular have been shown to help fight heart disease and can improve blood sugar levels, all thanks to walnuts’ high levels of polyunsaturated fats. These healthy fats have been shown to help prevent and slow the progression of conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Almonds, pistachios and pecans also contain these beneficial fats. Nuts are low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fat, which makes them good for stabilizing blood sugar. Just be sure to watch your serving size. A 1/4-cup portion of shelled walnuts clocks in at 164 calories.

3. Oatmeal

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Pictured Recipe: Spiced Apple Berry Oatmeal

Whole grains, such as oats, are better for your blood sugar (the fiber helps minimize spiking) and may actually help improve insulin sensitivity. Oats contain fiber in the form of beta-glucans, which are the soluble fibers that cause oats to bulk up in liquid. Soluble fiber regulates blood sugar by slowing down the breakdown and absorption of carbohydrates from other foods you eat. Studies have also shown oats can help improve blood pressure, cholesterol and fasting insulin levels.

Try it out: Healthy Breakfasts for Diabetes

4. Dairy

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Pictured Recipe: Strawberry & Yogurt Parfait

In addition to providing calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones, dairy foods are an excellent source of protein to keep hunger at bay. Milk, cheese and yogurt have all been shown to help stabilize blood sugar levels, and eating plenty of these dairy products may reduce the risk of developing diabetes. New research suggests you don’t necessarily have to stick to fat-free dairy. A large analysis from researchers at Harvard and Tufts found that eating more full-fat (or whole) dairy was associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes. It might be that the higher fat content keeps you feeling full, so you’ll be less likely to reach for a sugary, high-carb snack later on. But, keep in mind that full-fat dairy is higher in calories than fat-free. Whether you choose fat-free or full-fat dairy, it’s most important to watch for added sugars in flavored yogurts and milks, which can add significant calories in the form of simple carbs.

5. Beans

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Pictured Recipe: Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes

Beans are loaded with fiber and protein to keep you feeling full. Beans are also a source of carbohydrates, with about 20 grams of carbs per half-cup serving. One Canadian study showed that people who added a cup or more of beans to their diets every day had better control of their blood sugar and lowered their blood pressure. Beans are inexpensive and incredibly versatile. Mix things up by adding different varieties, such as black, pinto, garbanzo or cannellini beans, to veggie-packed salads and soups.

Related: Healthy Bean Salad Recipes

6. Broccoli

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Pictured Recipe: Lentil & Roasted Vegetable Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

Broccoli-and other cruciferous foods, such as kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts-all contain a compound called sulforaphane. This anti-inflammatory compound helps control blood sugar and protects blood vessels from damage associated with diabetes. Broccoli is not only low in calories and carbs-1 cup of cooked chopped florets has just 55 calories and 11 grams of carbohydates-but it also packs a lot of nutrients, including vitamin C and iron. You can feel free to fill half your plate with this good-for-you green veggie.

Related: Recipes to Help You Love Broccoli

7. Quinoa

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Pictured Reicpe: Spicy Tomatillo Quinoa

This protein-rich whole grain is a great substitute for white pasta or white rice. It contains 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per 1/2-cup serving of cooked quinoa. The boost of fiber and protein means quinoa gets digested slowly, which keeps you full and stops your blood sugar from spiking. Quinoa is also considered a complete protein, because it contains all nine essential amino acids, needed to build muscle, which is rare for plant-based protein sources. Plus, it’s rich in minerals, such as iron and magnesium.

Related: 31 Amazing Recipes for Quinoa

8. Spinach

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Pictured Recipe: Apricot-Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Carrot Salad

Spinach is one of the best sources of magnesium, which helps your body use insulin to absorb the sugars in your blood and manage blood sugar more efficiently. This leafy green is also high in vitamin K and folate, among other key nutrients. Plus, a 2-cup serving of raw spinach delivers only 2 grams of carbohydrates and 14 calories. Munch on raw baby spinach in salads, add it to your morning smoothie or sauté it with garlic and olive oil for a healthy side dish.

Try it: Easy Mediterranean Tuna-Spinach Salad

9. Olive Oil

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Pictured Recipe: Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

This Mediterranean-diet staple packs a punch when it comes to managing diabetes, mostly due to its high monounsaturated fatty acid, or MUFA, content. Several studies have shown that a diet high in MUFAs helps keep blood sugar in check by lowering insulin resistance, helping cells better respond to your body’s insulin. There’s no need to fear the fat from olive oil. While fat has more calories than carbohydrates, gram for gram, it helps keep you full, minimizes blood sugar spikes and allows your body to absorb key nutrients, such as vitamins A and E.

10. Salmon

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Pictured Recipe: Garlic Roasted Salmon & Brussels Sprouts

Not only is salmon high in protein, it’s also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help keep your heart healthy by lowering blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels. Other types of fatty fish that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna, mackerel and sardines, can also provide these protective effects, which are especially important for people with diabetes, who are also at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease.

Related: Easy and Healthy Salmon Recipes

When we recommend to people that it’s best to eat a low carb diet for diabetes – they often say “But, don’t I need to eat carbs?”

Sure, you do.

A low carb diet is not a no carb diet.

But something that most people don’t realize is that vegetables are carbohydrates, too.

In fact, they are the type of carbohydrates most of us need to eat more of.

So, we’ve recently talked about starch and root vegetables and potatoes, now we’re going to cover the best vegetables to eat as a diabetic.

Why You Need To Eat More Vegetables

I could give you a dozen reasons why you need to eat more vegetables because research shows they have unlimited health benefits – they really are incredible – but I’ll give you just a few reasons right now.

Low in carbs

You’ll see in just a minute in the food charts below, that vegetables are low in carbohydrates. This makes them the perfect source of carbs because they are not going to send your blood sugar soaring like bread, pasta, or rice.

Lots of Nutrients

Vegetables contain many protective ingredients such as antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals, and fiber – these all help ward off disease, reduce diabetic complications and keep the cells and organs in your body healthier.

Lower Blood Sugar, A1C & Cholesterol

Research shows that increasing your vegetable intake helps lower blood sugar A1C and cholesterol.

Promote Healthy Digestion

Eating your vegetables helps promote a healthy bowel and keeps you regular!

Eating more veggies is the easiest way to get your daily requirement of dietary fiber and will help reduce your risk of colon cancer and keep you super healthy – or help you get healthy again.

Did you know that your gastrointestinal tract is one of the largest immune organs in your body?

It hosts 70-80% of our immune system and a whole range of gut bacteria that dramatically impact our health.

When we feed the gut bacteria veggies, it helps promote the good guys to do their job of keeping us healthy – keeping the bad guys in check so they don’t have a chance to run riot.

Best Vegetables For Diabetes

Okay, let’s look at some food lists and all the ones you’ll find on these lists are great veggie options to include.

Green Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables are some of the best vegetables we can eat to get our daily requirements of vitamins and minerals and helping to decrease inflammation. And they are excellent for diabetics.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) did a study showing that green leafy vegetables are the most nutrient dense veggies around – so that’s saying something!

Here’s their nutrition facts:

You can eat as many green leafy’s as you like – eat them at every meal if you can. Or at the very least have one serve of them each day.

More Vegetable Options

There really are lots of veggies to choose from, which is great because it means we never get bored!

All veggies have their nutritional benefits and I’m not going to go into all of them just now, but let’s just take cruciferous vegetables as an example – just to show you the super powers behind veggies.

Cruciferous vegetables are those of the Brassica family and include broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, water cress, radish, turnip and bok choy.

These vegetables have been highly studied for their role in cancer prevention and slowing the proliferation of cancer cells. They have also been associated with reduced risk of other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, neurodegeneration, cataracts and age-related functional decline. (1)

So, that’s saying they can do a lot!

Such is the super power of vegetables – they really are awesome.

Here’s some more nutrition facts:

If you need printable copies of the above food lists and all the other carb lists we have, consider joining us as a member – we provide weekly meal plans and resources so you can enjoy life more while regulating blood sugar and A1c at the same time.

As the image shows above, vegetables are the best type of carbohydrate to eat.

They fit perfectly into a diabetic diet, helping you eat the right amount of carbs each day, keeping your blood sugar in a healthy range, and sharing their super powers with you so that you can get super healthy! 🙂

Vegetable Recipes

I understand that veggies aren’t a favorite for everyone, But I also know you can grow to like vegetables, especially when you have creative ways to cook them.

Inside our exclusive members-only area, we have over 700 recipes to choose from, with new meal plans available each week.

But here are a couple of delicious options you can try right now.

Cheesy Vegetable Bake

Adding cheese to any meal always makes it tastes great. And the basil and cheese combo of this meal makes it perfect to eat on it’s own, or as a side to beef, chicken or fish.

Vegetable Bake Votes: 100
Rating: 3.15
You: Rate this recipe! PRINT RECIPE: Print Recipe Total Carbs:29gNet Carbs:19 g Fiber:10gCalories:311kcal

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Passive Time .
Servings people

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion – finely diced
  • 2 carrot – sliced
  • 2 zucchini – sliced
  • 6 oz broccoli – equiv. to 1/2 broccoli – chopped
  • 10.5 oz cauliflower – equiv. to 1/4 medium cauliflower – roughly chopped
  • 4 tomato – diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese – equiv. to 1 cup – grated
Total Carbs:29gNet Carbs:19 g Fiber:10gCalories:311kcal

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Passive Time .
Servings people

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion – finely diced
  • 2 carrot – sliced
  • 2 zucchini – sliced
  • 6 oz broccoli – equiv. to 1/2 broccoli – chopped
  • 10.5 oz cauliflower – equiv. to 1/4 medium cauliflower – roughly chopped
  • 4 tomato – diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese – equiv. to 1 cup – grated
Votes: 100
Rating: 3.15
You: Rate this recipe! PRINT RECIPE: Print Recipe

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 420°F / 220°C. Then place all the chopped cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, and zucchini in a ceramic baking dish.
  2. Heat oil in a pan, add onion, and saute until well browned.
  3. Add the tomatoes and basil, then simmer for 2-3 minutes until nicely softened and saucey.
  4. Pour the mixture over the top of the vegetables, then use a spoon or spatula to mix the tomato into the vegetables so they are covered.
  5. Make sure the vegetables are dispersed evenly and then cover with a sheet of foil and then cook for 40 minutes.
  6. Remove the baking dish from the oven, top with the cheese and then put back in the oven uncovered. Bake for a further 10 minutes with the foil off so it goes nice and brown.
  7. Eat hot or cold and serve beside some fish, chicken, or beef for a tasty, healthy meal.
Nutrition Facts Vegetable Bake Amount Per Serving Calories 311 Calories from Fat 153 % Daily Value* Total Fat 17g 26% Saturated Fat 11g 55% Polyunsaturated Fat 1g Monounsaturated Fat 4g Cholesterol 40mg 13% Sodium 333mg 14% Potassium 1490mg 43% Total Carbohydrates 29g 10% Dietary Fiber 10g 40% Sugars 14g Protein 17g 34% Vitamin A 185% Vitamin C 244% Calcium 42% Iron 17% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine General
Print Print Recipe

Chicken Cashew Veggie Stir Fry

A stir fry always makes a simple dinner or lunch. The great thing about stir fries is you can really throw any type of veggie into them.

If you need to use up ingredients, just throw them in – most of the time you can’t go wrong. Give this easy veggie cashew stir fry a try – yum!

Chicken Cashew Veggie Stir Fry Votes: 12
Rating: 4.33
You: Rate this recipe! PRINT RECIPE: Print Recipe Total Carbs:26gNet Carbs:16 g Fiber:10gCalories:370kcal

Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings people

Ingredients

  • 8.8 oz chicken breast – sliced
  • 1 carrot – julienne sliced
  • 1 zucchini – julienne sliced
  • 4.3 oz cauliflower – equiv. 1 cup – chopped
  • 3.5 oz broccoli – equiv. 1 cup – chopped
  • 4.5 oz mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 tomato – diced
  • 1 onion – sliced
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon tamari – wheat free soy sauce
  • konjac noodles – optional
  • 1.2 oz cashew nuts – equiv. 1/4 cup
Total Carbs:26gNet Carbs:16 g Fiber:10gCalories:370kcal

Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings people

Ingredients

  • 8.8 oz chicken breast – sliced
  • 1 carrot – julienne sliced
  • 1 zucchini – julienne sliced
  • 4.3 oz cauliflower – equiv. 1 cup – chopped
  • 3.5 oz broccoli – equiv. 1 cup – chopped
  • 4.5 oz mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 tomato – diced
  • 1 onion – sliced
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon tamari – wheat free soy sauce
  • konjac noodles – optional
  • 1.2 oz cashew nuts – equiv. 1/4 cup
Votes: 12
Rating: 4.33
You: Rate this recipe! PRINT RECIPE: Print Recipe

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large fry pan or wok.
  2. Add the chicken and fry until just cooked, adding half the tamari half way through cooking. Set aside in a bowl.
  3. Add more oil to the pan or wok.
  4. Add the onion and carrot and saute until starting to brown.
  5. Add the cauliflower, broccoli, and zucchini and continue to stir fry for 3 minutes, until starting to soften.
  6. Add the diced tomato and tamari to the pan, stir through and cook for a further 3 minutes, until the veggies are cooked to your liking – well softened but still slightly crisp is nice.
  7. Lastly, add the cashews to the pan, stir through to combine and heat through and then serve.

Recipe Notes

Note: If you want to add konjac noodles to this dish, which works really well, rinse them, then add them to the pan at the same time as the cashews and stir to warm through.

There are lots of additions or alterations you can make to this dish, like, use cajun spice to coat and spice the chicken, add garlic, add ground cummin, or a hint of hot chili. Experiment with the original recipe and see what you can come up with.

Nutrition Facts Chicken Cashew Veggie Stir Fry Amount Per Serving Calories 370 Calories from Fat 126 % Daily Value* Total Fat 14g 22% Saturated Fat 2g 10% Trans Fat 0.03g Polyunsaturated Fat 2g Monounsaturated Fat 8g Cholesterol 73mg 24% Sodium 624mg 26% Potassium 1520mg 43% Total Carbohydrates 26g 9% Dietary Fiber 10g 40% Sugars 11g Protein 39g 78% Vitamin A 119% Vitamin C 174% Calcium 10% Iron 20% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine General
Print Print Recipe

Start exchanging all your high carb foods for more veggies – it takes a bit of time to get the cross over – but as you can see it is well worth the effort.

What’s your favorite veggie? And what’s your least favorite? Share them in the comments below.

References: 1. Carkeet C, Grann K, Randolph KR, Venzon DS, Izzy SM. Phytochemicals: Health Promotion and Therapeutic Potential. CRS Press. Taylor and Francis Group. 2013.

By Patrick Quillin, PhD, RD, CNS • Originally published on GettingHealthier.com

Living in Tulsa, OK, for 11 years, I asked the locals if crime was a problem. They replied, “Well, in August you better be sure to lock your car, because otherwise someone might put a bag of zucchini in your car.” People who grow zucchini, like me, harvest more than we can eat.

Zucchini, a summer squash, is a member of the gourd family. It originated from Central America from where it has spread to the rest of the world.

This popular succulent vegetable does well in warm weather, in places with moist, fertile soil. It takes 35 to 60 days from planting to first harvest. The plant grows to a height of two and a half feet. For best flavor, zucchini fruits are harvested when they are 4-8 inches.

Darker fruits are usually higher in nutrients. But what are the nutritional benefits of zucchini?

Editor’s Note: Botanically, zucchini is a fruit, but it’s most often used like a vegetable.

What Are The Nutritional Benefits of Zucchini?

Zucchini contains zero fat, and is high in water and fiber. It also contains significant amounts of vitamins B6, riboflavin, folate, C, and K, and minerals, like potassium and manganese.

The summer squash also contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. This makes zucchini, also known as courgette, a nutrient-dense food that you should include in your diet.

Zucchini Benefits: 9 Reasons to Eat More of This Squash

1. Improves digestion

Incorporating zucchini in your diet can help improve digestion including reducing the incidence of constipation and other digestive issues.

Zucchini is high in water. It also contains significant amounts of fiber, electrolytes, and other nutrients that are necessary for a healthy digestive system.

Regular consumption of zucchini can also help prevent ulcers, IBS, and colon cancer.

2. Slows down aging

Aging results from the activity of toxins, free radicals, and inflammation that the body is exposed to over the years. These poisons and inflammation can be reduced by antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods.

Zucchini is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which help rid the body of free radicals and excess inflammation.

3. Lowers blood sugar levels

High blood sugar levels and diabetes are problems that are worsened by a diet high in (unhealthy) carbohydrates and low in fiber.

By including zucchini in your diet, you increase the intake of fiber. You can also reduce your carbohydrate intake because you will feel full for longer. These diet changes can help reduce your blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.

This can mean that your body no longer requires excessive amounts of insulin to process sugar. This can change your risk of developing diabetes. Studies show that including at least 30 grams of fiber in your daily diet lowers your risk of getting diabetes significantly.

4. Supports healthy circulation and a healthy heart

Zucchini is low in fat and sodium, but high in fiber and potassium. These properties help to maintain healthy blood circulation.

Low sodium and high potassium help to maintain healthy blood pressure while fiber, such as the polysaccharide in zucchini, lowers cholesterol levels.

This combination works synergistically to maintain good circulation, which is necessary for healthy blood pressure and a healthy heart.

5. Improves eye health

Zucchini is a good source of health-protecting antioxidants and phytonutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese, zeaxanthin, and lutein.

Zeaxanthin and lutein are especially useful in maintaining and improving eye health by fighting free radicals. This reduces the risk of developing age-related eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

You can also use zucchini to treat puffy eyes by placing slices of raw zucchini over the eyes. Leave the slices in place for about 30 minutes and repeat several times in a day.

6. Boosts energy

Because zucchini is a rich source of B-vitamins, especially folate, riboflavin, and B6, it can help to boost energy production in the body. This reduces fatigue and improves moods.

The body requires B-vitamins for protein and carbohydrate metabolism. These vitamins also aid in various brain functions including cognition.

7. Weight loss

Because zucchini is low in calories and high in water and fiber, it is a great food for those wishing to reduce their body weight.

It is worth noting that excess body weight usually results from regular consumption of carbohydrate and sugary foods.

By including zucchini in your diet, you increase the fiber and water content of your food. This means that you will feel full for longer and end up eating less. In the long term, you will lose some of your excess weight.

8. Improves thyroid and adrenal functions

Zucchini contains high amounts of vitamin C and polyphenols, especially in the peels.

Laboratory studies on rats by the Devi University found that the compounds in zucchini peels have positive effects on the thyroid and adrenal glands. Additionally, the compounds helped in the regulating insulin levels.

9. Protects against oxidation and inflammation

Zucchini is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, including vitamins A and C, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase. Large amounts of these compounds are found in zucchini skin. For this reason, you should eat the skin together with the flesh.

Eating zucchini regularly reduces oxidation and inflammation within the body. This boosts your immunity and protects against diseases associated with inflammation.

All these zucchini benefits are impressive, so aim to add more to your meals, and if you can, try growing your own.

How to Grow Zucchini In Your Backyard

Zucchini grows best during the warmer months, which is why it’s also called summer squash. However, you can still grow it at other times provided it is shielded from extreme cold.

If you get your system down, zucchini plants can become extremely productive with fruits.

If you would like to grow zucchini in your backyard, here is what you need to do:

  1. Prepare the growing area by digging to loosen the soil.
  2. Add organic fertilizer and mix well into the soil
  3. Create mounds of about 2-feet diameter, up to 10 inches high and about four feet apart.
  4. Plant six seeds per mound, spacing them evenly. Cover each seed with soil no deeper than one inch and water them thoroughly.
  5. Thereafter, water your zucchini seeds once or twice a week depending on the weather.
  6. Once the seedlings emerge, wait until the healthiest are about three inches tall. Weed out the weaker ones, leaving two or three in each mound.
  7. Continue watering as needed, aiming to get the water near the roots.
  8. When your zucchini start flowering, you may need to add fertilizer to support growth of the fruits. Also water more often, especially if the weather is hot.
  9. Zucchini takes about 60 days from planting to harvesting. Harvest zucchini as you need them when they are about six inches long. Fruits taste best at this stage. If you let them to grow for too long, they start getting woody and won’t taste too good.
  10. Enjoy your home grown zucchini raw or cooked.

Editor’s Note: Several types of genetically engineered zucchini have been approved for sale in the U.S. and in Canada, so if you want to avoid GMOs, we recommend choosing organic zucchini.

You can enjoy zucchini many ways, including the popular zucchini noodles (zoodles) — a pasta alternative. For a different idea, try these Zucchini Bars for a healthy breakfast or snack.

Let us know in the comments: What are your favorite ways to enjoy zucchini?

6 Things You Should Know About Zucchini

If you want a veggie that’s extremely versatile, look no further than zucchini. Whether eaten raw or cooked, there’s so many ways to enjoy it and still get a solid amount of a few vitamins and minerals you need. Zucchini actually falls under the umbrella of summer squash, which are squashes that get harvested before their rinds harden (unlike, say, pumpkins and butternut squash). Here are some other fun facts about this veggie that may surprise you.

First, how many calories are in zucchini?

Not many—in fact zucchini is super low in calories and makes the perfect light side dish for a heavy meal: One cup of sliced zucchini has about 19 calories. That’s 40 to 50% lower than the same serving size for other low-cal green veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. And because it’s so versatile, you can enjoy this low-calorie food in so many different recipes, from baked fries to pesto roll-ups. Of course, you can always grill zucchini with herbs for some savory flavor, too.

RELATED: 30 Foods Under 40 Calories, with Recipes

You can eat the blossoms

Even though zucchini is served as a vegetable, it’s technically a fruit because it comes from a flower: it grows from a golden blossom that blooms under the leaves. They don’t normally sell the blooms in the grocery store, but you can find them at farmers’ markets. And these beauties aren’t just for looking at—you can eat them, too. The most popular way to prepare them is fried or stuffed.

RELATED: 26 Quick and Tasty Zucchini Recipes

Zucchini may be good for your heart

Zucchini has a good amount of potassium: 295 milligrams per cup, or 8% of your recommended daily value. According to the American Heart Association, potassium can help control blood pressure because it lessens the harmful effects of salt on your body. Studies suggest boosting your potassium intake (while also curbing sodium) can slash your stroke risk and may also lower your odds of developing heart disease. Zucchini is also high in the antioxidant vitamin C, which may help the lining of your blood cells function better, lowering blood pressure and protecting against clogged arteries. One cup of sliced zucchini has 20 milligrams, or about 33% of your daily value.

RELATED: 15 Foods High in Potassium

You can substitute it for pasta

Sure, you can add zucchini to your spaghetti recipes, but you can also use it in place of noodles altogether. So-called “zoodles” are a great pasta alternative, and they’re easy to make with the help of some kitchen gadgets. With a mandolin or a spiral slicer, you secure the zucchini on prongs and push the veggie toward the blades. Not only does it make things easy, but it’s also kind of cool to see dozens of noodles cranked out at once. A smaller and less expensive option is a julienne peeler, which has a serrated blade to create thin strips.

RELATED: 14 Farmers Market Recipes

It’s not always green

You may be used to seeing a vegetable that’s green and speckled, but there’s a yellow variety of zucchini, and it’s easy to confuse with yellow squash, a different type. The easiest way to tell the difference is to look at the shape. Yellow squash usually has a tapered neck, either crooked or straight, whereas zucchini of any color looks like a cylinder from end to end. Though not much is known about the difference between the varieties, some say golden zucchini has a sweeter flavor than the green kind. Because it retains its color after cooking, it also makes a sunny addition to any dish.

RELATED: 13 Veggies You Only Think You Don’t Like

It has an international pedigree

Italians are thought to have bred modern zucchini from the squash they picked up in colonial America. “Zucca” is actually the Italian word for squash. That’s why you’ll see zucchini referred to as “Italian squash” in some recipes. Still, summer squash has been around for quite some time. The crop dates back to 5500 B.C. where it was integral in the diets of people living in Central America and South America, according to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. (And if you’re in Europe, it may appear on menus as “courgette.”)

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How to Cook Zucchini

It’s good that so many things can be done with zucchini-it’s the most enthusiastic producer in the garden, after all. One plant can yield between 6 and 10 pounds of fruit over a season. Gardeners tell stories of furtively leaving bags of zucchini at their neighbors’ front doors in a desperate move to avoid being overrun by the bounty.

Pictured Recipe: Hasselback Zucchini “Pizzas”

Zucchini are best quality in the height of summer and make for simple and fast grilled sides or salads. Bakers also love zucchini because it lends moisture and texture to baked goods when grated and stirred into batter for quick breads, muffins and cakes.

Grill it up and serve with your favorite grilled meat. Make zucchini noodles and toss with your favorite pasta sauce. Roast or sauté it in olive oil, or steam it for an easy veggie side. Here we show you how to cook zucchini in a variety of delicious ways, perfectly every time.

Related: Healthy Zucchini Bread Recipes

How to Cook Zucchini 4 Ways

1. How to Grill Zucchini

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Pictured recipe: Easy Grilled Zucchini

Cut zucchini lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips. Preheat grill; brush strips lightly with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Place over direct, medium heat; grill, turning once, until marked and lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. How to Roast Zucchini

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Pictured recipe: Easy Roasted Zucchini

Preheat oven to 500°F. Cut zucchini lengthwise into 1-inch pieces. Toss the zucchini with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet or in a pan large enough to hold the pieces in a single layer. Roast until beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the zucchini and continue roasting until just tender, 7 to 9 minutes more.

3. How to Sauté Zucchini

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Pictured recipe: Sautéed Zucchini

Cut zucchini into 1/4-inch-thick rings. Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 minced garlic clove and the zucchini; cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 7 minutes.

4. How to Steam Zucchini

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Pictured recipe: Easy Steamed Zucchini

Cut zucchini into 1/2-inch-thick rings. Place in a steamer basket with a small onion, thinly sliced. Place over 1 inch of water in a large pot set over high heat. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

Bonus! How to Make Zucchini Noodles

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Pictured recipe: Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Pesto & Shrimp

Frequently called “zoodles,” this must-know take on zucchini deftly graduates the versatile veggie from side dish to main dish. To make zucchini noodles, use a spiral vegetable slicer or a vegetable peeler to cut zucchini lengthwise into long, thin strands or strips. Stop when you reach the seeds in the middle (seeds make the noodles fall apart). Place the zucchini “noodles” in a colander and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let drain for 15 to 30 minutes, then gently squeeze to remove any excess water.

Related: How to Spiralize Vegetables Like a Pro

How to Pick (or Buy) a Perfect Zucchini

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Pictured recipe: Italian Zucchini-Topped Baked Potato

The best zucchini are free of breaks, gashes and soft spots. They should feel heavy for their size and have glossy, unblemished skin. Smaller squash (under 8 inches) are sweeter and have fewer seeds.

Try These: Healthy Zucchini Recipes

How to Store Zucchini

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Pictured recipe: Roasted Baby Zucchini with Lemon Labneh

Store unwashed zucchini in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five days. Don’t wash the squash until you’re ready to prep and cook. When ready to cook there’s no need to peel, but do take the time to scrub off any dirt. Rinse under cool running water, rubbing gently if there is any residual soil. Trim off both ends, then slice, cut or grate as desired.

Keep Reading: How to Make Zucchini Lasagna Rolls

Zucchini Nutrition

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Pictured recipe: Zucchini Tortillas

Zucchini is a healthful choice for many reasons, not least of which is its low-calorie, high-nutrient yield. One cup of sliced cooked zucchini has just 27 calories, 1 gram of fat and no saturated fat. It also packs in just 5 grams of carbs, 3 grams of sugars, and 5 milligrams of sodium. Zucchini is a good source of potassium and also has 2 grams of protein and 2 grams of filling fiber per serving.

Feasting on summer squash like zucchini could also spell seasonal allergy relief: it’s loaded with vitamin C, a natural antihistamine; just one medium zucchini will net you 58 percent of the vitamin C you need in a day.

Related: Healthy Recipes that Swap Carbs for Veggies

How to Grow Your Own Zucchini

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Pictured recipe: Fennel & Zucchini Salad with Watercress, Mint & Feta

Zucchini is a great option for the casual gardener because it’s such a prolific grower. Sow seeds two to three weeks after the last spring frost in full sun in loose, fertile, well-drained soil. Plant seeds 2 or 3 feet apart in a traditional garden bed, or plant several seeds sown closer together in a slight mound or hill-the soil is warmer when slightly elevated. (Allow 5 or 6 feet between hills.)

Keep plants well watered, and mulch them to retain moisture and keep weeds at bay. Harvest zucchini when they’re about 6 inches long. Cut, do not pull, the squash from the vines. Check plants daily and harvest frequently for the best fruit and to increase production.

Related: How to Start a Vegetable Garden

Can You Eat Zucchini Blossoms?

In Italy, fritelle di fiori di zucca-batter-fried zucchini blossoms-are a crisp, ethereal delicacy. Only the male blossoms-those with a long, thin stem-are harvested. It is the female flowers, or blossoms with a slight swelling at the bottom that, once pollinated, produce the squash.

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