The 5 Best Healthy Fats to Eat If You Have Diabetes, According to a Dietitian
In the past, we were led to believe that eating a fat-free diet was the way to go for optimal health. Thankfully, experts now understand how important certain fats can be in our diets, especially for those with diabetes.
Pictured Recipe: Double-Tahini Hummus
Fat plays an important role in diabetes management, as this macronutrient can help with post-meal glucose control, and certain types of fat can help support healthy cholesterol levels. Fat also plays a role in hormone production, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (like the ever-popular vitamin D), and it may help give our body energy in certain cases. Needless to say, including fat in a diabetes-friendly diet is an important detail that should not be overlooked.
The trick is to focus on what are known as "healthy fats," aka unsaturated fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats are typically liquid at room temperature, and they offer a slew of health benefits. On the other hand, trans and saturated fats, or fats that tend to be solid at room temperature, should be more limited when following a diabetes-friendly diet.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults should aim for 20% to 35% of their calorie intake from fat sources, with less than 10% of daily calories from saturated fat sources. For a person following a 2,000-calorie diet, this would mean a fat intake of around 45 to 78 grams per day, with a suggested maximum of 22 grams of fat from saturated fat.
The 5 Best Healthy Fats to Eat If You Have Diabetes
Including the right quantity of healthy fats is one important component of an overall diabetes management plan. When you are choosing the best healthy fats to eat if you have diabetes, here are five that can help you follow a diabetes-friendly diet in a delicious way.
Avocados are a unique fruit because they are naturally sugar-free and contain both fiber and healthy monounsaturated fats. According to a study published in Nutrients, including a half or whole avocado at breakfast decreased the glucose and insulin response more than what was seen among those who did not eat the avocado.
Avocados not only contain healthy fats, but they also contain several important micronutrients, including magnesium. Magnesium plays a key role in regulating insulin action, so meeting your needs with foods like avocado is important for those with diabetes.
Mango & Avocado Salad and Shrimp & Avocado Salad are delicious diabetes-friendly ways to enjoy avocado today.
Sardines and other oily fish are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help support heart health, according to the American Diabetes Association. Along with helping keep the cardiovascular system healthy, these fats may help reduce inflammation and increase insulin function. The American Diabetes Association Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes recommends eating fish (mainly fatty fish) twice per week for people with diabetes. Plus, because sardines are typically canned, they are easy to keep in your pantry and last significantly longer than their fresh or frozen counterparts.
Greek Salad with Sardines and Sardines on Crackers are simple sardine recipes for people on a diabetes-friendly diet.
3. Olive Oil
Olive oil consists of mainly monounsaturated fatty acids and bioactive compounds, two factors that contribute to our overall health in various ways. For those trying to better manage their blood sugars, data shows that regularly consuming olive oil is linked to decreased fasting glucose levels and reduced hemoglobin A1C (a blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past three months).
Adding olive oil to your diet can be as simple as drizzling some over your veggies or using this oil as a base for homemade salad dressings.
If you are looking for a low-carbohydrate food that is packed with healthy fat, plant-based protein, fiber and magnesium, then look no further. Nuts are a super-healthy food, whether you have diabetes or not, and they come in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors. Eating nuts has minimal effects on blood glucose levels and, when nuts are consumed with carbohydrate-rich foods, they can help blunt the post-meal glycemic response to the carbohydrates. This can help those with diabetes keep these blood sugar levels more consistent.
Walnut Rosemary Crusted Salmon is a delicious way to enjoy walnuts in your next meal alongside nutritious fatty fish. And for snack time, Everything-Seasoned Almonds can satisfy your hunger between meals without spiking (or crashing) your blood sugar levels.
Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds, and it's a primary ingredient in many recipes like hummus and salad dressings, but is also versatile enough to use in baked goods. Tahini is rich in polyunsaturated fats and bioactive plant compounds called lignans that have been shown to improve insulin secretion. In human studies, sesame consumption has been linked to improved serum glucose, hemoglobin A1C and insulin concentrations in patients with diabetes. Studies also found that sesame consumption is linked to lower fasting blood sugar levels than seen in those who do not consume sesame.
A Falafel Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing and Cauliflower Hummus are delicious recipes that feature tahini and are packed with flavor and nutrients.