A common eating misstep most people with diabetes make? Passing on bananas! This versatile fruit doesn't need to be the sugar-spiker many of us mistake it to be, nor do we need to consider it completely off-limits! Here's how to enjoy 'em without worry.
You might believe that bananas are a fruit to avoid if you’re watching your blood sugar. But it’s not necessary to cut them out completely. You can enjoy this delicious, easy-to-find fruit (and even give your health a boost) so long as you know the best ways to eat them.
An easy way to slow the blood sugar rise from any high-carb food? Combine it with other items that contain slower-to-digest nutrients, such as fat and protein. Since Greek yogurt is loaded with protein, for example, adding banana slices to the top—or better yet, layering them together into a beautiful, nutritious parfait—can diminish the impact that the carbohydrates in both foods will have on your glucose level. Peanut butter is another great pairing for bananas since it’s loaded with protein and heart-healthy plant-based fats. Make Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal for breakfast to get your fix.
Yes, bananas naturally contain sugar. However, the surprising truth is that the recommended serving (1/2 of a large banana) contains only 15 grams of carbohydrates. To avoid wasting the second half, cut the banana in two before you peel it. Then cover the exposed part of the uneaten fruit in plastic wrap to prevent it from turning brown and store it in the refrigerator.
No plastic wrap handy or prefer not to use it? You can also stand the eaten part upright on a plate so that the flesh is sealed against oxygen exposure.
Opt for Firm Ones
As bananas ripen, the resistant starch starts to turn into a more fast-acting type of sugar. That means the softer a banana and browner the peel, the higher the sugar content. Choosing a banana that’s more firm can mean slightly less of an impact on blood sugar while still providing your body with the same amount of beneficial vitamins, minerals and fiber.
While buying a bunch, choose bananas that are entirely bright yellow if you plan on enjoying them immediately. Look for bright yellow with some greening toward each end if it’ll be a day or two before you get to eat them.
Are Bananas Good for People with Diabetes?
Absolutely! All fruits are excellent sources of blood sugar-balancing fiber and disease-fighting minerals and vitamins—and bananas are no exception. Bananas, in particular, are high in potassium, a mineral that is known to help lower blood pressure. How’s it work? By regulating how well fluids move in and out of our cells, which is especially important when it comes to ridding ourselves of excess sodium—another mineral that ratchets up blood pressure. Potassium also helps strengthen bones and reduce the risk of kidney stones.
Bananas also pack fiber, which is known to help those with and who are at risk for type 2 diabetes since it works to slow digestion and help balance blood sugar. Plus, when you enjoy a few slices with yogurt or in a smoothie, you also get a dose of folate, which is linked in research to lowered HA1C, possibly thanks to its ability to reverse insulin resistance.
Snack Ideas for People with Diabetes
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The old adage to "avoid snacking between meals" isn't necessarily great advice, particularly for people with diabetes. In fact, going long periods of time—say, more than three to four hours—without eating can actually work against you if your goal is to keep blood sugar stable and stave off hunger.
What's better? Indulging in a powerful mix of just the right nutrients and flavors to balance blood sugar and quell your cravings. That's why this list contains snacks rich in one or more glucose-steadying and appetite-suppressing nutrients such as fiber, fat and protein as well as a host of dynamic flavors and textures.
The snacks on this list also clock in at about two hundred calories or less, which is another good rule-of-thumb to keep in mind when it comes to figuring out which snacks will work for—not against—your goal of maintaining weight while also keeping blood sugar balanced.
1/3 cup: 178 calories, 8g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 463mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 6g fiber), 6g protein.
Crunchy. Spicy. Full of fiber. Packed with protein. Easy to make. These Chili-Lime Roasted Chickpeas might be everything you want and need in a snack! Plus, research suggests that chickpeas (along with other beans) might help prevent or reduce the progression of type 2 diabetes.
1 medium apple: 94 calories, 0.3g fat (0g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 1.8mg sodium, 25g carbohydrate (19g sugars, 4g fiber), 0.5g protein.
2 tablespoons peanut butter: 188 calories, 16g fat (3g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 147mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 2g fiber), 8g protein.
A small apple with the skin and a couple tablespoons of peanut butter makes a fiber- and protein-rich snack. This classic combination provides a quick energy boost and a sweet and nutty treat any time of day. Slice up one small apple and spread one tablespoon of homemade peanut butter across the pieces.
People say "Wow!" when they taste these flavorful, tangy horseradish deviled eggs. The bold combination of ground mustard, dill and horseradish is so appealing. The plate is always emptied when I serve these eggs. —Ruth Roth, Linville, North Carolina
2 egg halves: 146 calories, 13g fat (3g saturated fat), 215mg cholesterol, 169mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 0 fiber), 6g protein.
Hard-boiled eggs are a handy high-protein and zero carb snack that won't increase blood sugars. Add horseradish and you've got a slightly spicy bite that's completely craveable. Make a batch for the week ahead! If you're insulin-dependent, add a slice of whole-grain toast or ten whole-grain crackers which will provide about 15 grams of complex carbs that offer perfect protection against your blood sugar going too low.[/rms_recipe]
1 kabob: 44 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 5mg cholesterol, 10mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 0 fiber), 1g protein.
With plenty of vegetables and healthy fats from olive oil, salad on a stick is an ideal nosh for people with diabetes. Make these ahead of time to keep in the fridge for a quick nibble between meals. The tomato and basil bring fresh flavor, while the mozzarella makes it satisfying. Since some balsamic vinegars have sugar added, double-check the ingredient label or make your own zero carb version such as this delicious Strawberry-Basil Vinegar recipe.
1 bar: 200 calories, 16g fat (3.5g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 20mg sodium, 16g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 7 fiber), 5g protein.
Registered dietitian and nutrition partner with KIND, Amy Gorin, weighed in with her favorite snack to recommend for people with diabetes." The Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan KIND Bar is a good source of protein and an excellent source of fiber, which helps keep you fuller for longer and blood sugar levels stable. It's plenty sweet but with limited added sugar—just 4 grams."Shop Now
2 tablespoons: 53 calories, 5g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 51mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 2g fiber), 1g protein.
This simple but filling guacamole can be savored with crunchy cucumber slices to keep carbs in check. This guac gets an extra hit of flavor from prepared salsa, making it even easier to pull together when you need it. Plus, the polyunsaturated fatty acids found in avocados are known to improve the function on insulin making it easier for the body to regulate blood sugar levels.
1 cup: 189 calories, 8.1g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 9.3mg sodium, 15.8g carbohydrate (3.4g sugars, 8.1g fiber), 16.9g protein.
Cooked edamame provides roughly 17g protein and 8g fiber in one cup, which is why its considered a powerful snack for keeping hunger levels in check. This diabetes-friendly munchable is available fresh or frozen, making it easy to season just as you'd like—try our spicy edamame. Bonus: Bioactive compounds in these beans are also known to protect heart health in multiple ways such as lowering cholesterol and reducing blood pressure.
1 piece: 70 calories, 6g fat (4g saturated fat), 20mg cholesterol, 160mg sodium, 0g carbohydrate (0g sugars, 0g fiber), 5g protein.
For an on-the-go snack that will fill you up without impacting blood sugar levels, registered dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade recommends Mini Babybel Cheese. She says, "This fun snack is 100% real cheese and a good source of calcium and protein. Since it contains 0 grams of carbohydrates, you know your blood sugar levels will stay within a healthy range even after your snack." Pair it with a handful of raw, non-starchy vegetables such as sliced red, yellow, or orange peppers, baby tomatoes or sliced cucumbers to add volume, vitamins, and minerals without extra carbs or calories. Find out if cheese is good for people with diabetes.Shop Now
2 tablespoons: 78 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 114mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 2g fiber), 3g protein.
With creamy cannellini beans, tahini, garlic and lemon, this white bean dip has a Mediterranean flair and tons of taste. Dip crunchy carrots or cauliflower in for a fiber-rich healthy snack that will easily keep you chugging along until your next meal. Make this dip even more beneficial by adding an extra dose of crushed garlic, which was shown in a meta-analysis to help reduce important markers of blood sugar control such as hemoglobin A1C levels.
1/4 cup (calculated without chips): 20 calories, 1g fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 28mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 1g fiber), 0 protein.
High in fiber, water and antioxidants, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries top the list of diabetes-friendly fruits. This salsa has all three, plus a hint of heat from jalapeno pepper. Snack on this sweet and tangy salsa solo or with crunchy endive or lettuce dippers. Pair it with delicious bean-based chips, which have more blood-stabilizing fiber and appetite-taming protein than traditional tortilla chips.
22 almonds: 171 calories, 15.6g fat (1.2g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 0.3mg sodium, 5g carbohydrate (1.3g sugars, 3g fiber), 6g protein.
Research suggests that a handful of almonds just might help keep blood sugars stable, thanks to the naturally present combination of fiber, protein and healthy fats. With a perfect crunch, this shelf-stable snack is ready whenever and wherever you are.
1 piece: 72 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 14mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 2g fiber), 2g protein.
Chia seeds lend healthful fats, fiber and crunch to these energy bites making them a satisfying make-ahead snack. These delicious treats also pack nut butter, which means they're both filling and won't spike blood sugar. Roll these up for any time of day—especially before or after a workout. Chia seeds can add an appetite-taming upgrade to smoothies and yogurt too.
1/4 cup: 103 calories, 7g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 158mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 1g fiber), 3g protein.
With 7 grams of protein per ounce, pumpkin seeds can help squash hunger in minutes. These seeds are also an ideal alternative if you have a nut allergy. Studies suggest that compounds in this festive snack can slow down the absorption of carbs in the gut helping to keep blood sugar balanced. Consider adding plain, shelled varieties to other dishes such as salads and baked goods. They're also high in magnesium, a mineral known to protect heart health.
6 ounces Fage Total 0%: 90 calories, 0g fat (0g saturated fat), 10mg cholesterol, 65mg sodium, 5g carbohydrate (5 sugars, 0g fiber), 18g protein.
With twice the protein of the regular variety, Greek yogurt has more staying power to keep you feeling full longer which could help with weight management and balancing blood sugar. Yogurt also provides a good boost of calcium plus vitamin D, a combination thought to help optimize blood sugar control. Sweeten up yogurt naturally with fresh berries, make it savory with a swirl of pesto or add nuts for crunch.
1 ounce: 110 calories, 3g fat (0g saturated fat), 10mg cholesterol, 290mg sodium, 16g carbohydrate (2 sugars, 6g fiber), 6g protein.
Don't have the time or the energy to make your own roasted chickpeas? Buy some Biena Roasted Chickpeas instead. These beans stay crunchy longer than homemade ones making them the perfect snack for traveling, plus they come in fun flavors like habanero. Even better? These tiny orbs are known to pack five different bioactive compounds that help improve blood sugar regulation making them a powerhouse snack for people with diabetes.Shop Now
1 cup: 44 calories, 3g fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 150mg sodium, 5g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 1g fiber), 1g protein.
If you tend to want lots of volume in a snack, popcorn is the perfect pick. A whopping three cups make the typical serving and popcorn is a blank canvas to dress with your favorite seasonings. This Tex-Mex variety turns up the heat. You can also try Parmesan cheese, or a mixture of Romano cheese, basil and oregano similar to what found in this delicious Italian Cheese Popcorn recipe. Since popcorn is a complex carbohydrate that contains fiber so it won't ratchet up blood sugar the way other high carb snack foods do.
1 package: 130 calories, 3.5g fat (1g saturated fat), 70mg cholesterol, 300mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate (3 sugars, 0g fiber), 19g protein.
Jerky of every flavor can be an option to get your protein in during snack time. This Wild Alaskan Salmon jerky offers a way to get omega-3 fatty acids, a polyunsaturated fatty acid that's known to quell inflammation associated with diabetes. Be mindful that all jerky may be high in sodium, so always check the label and avoid it if you have hypertension.Shop Now
1 cocktail: 134 calories, 5g fat (1g saturated fat), 115mg cholesterol, 359mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 1g fiber), 16g protein.
You might feel a little fancy eating this for a snack, but this spin on shrimp cocktail is a delectable appetizer that can be made for one or many. Packed with protein and a hint of peppery spice, it's a smart choice for people with diabetes. Consider pairing it with whole-grain crackers to add some crunch and an extra dose of fiber.
100 g cooked broccoli: 35 calories, 0.4g fat (0.1g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 41mg sodium, 7.2g carbohydrate (1.4g sugars, 3.3g fiber), 2.4g protein.
Fresh broccoli, cauliflower or even dill pickles make a crunchy snack with or without hummus or other dips. Get creative—add vegetables to skewers with a drizzle of vinaigrette. Remember, any non-starchy vegetable can easily be roasted to make an easy-to-eat snack, too.
1 ounce: 140 calories, 10g fat (3g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 80mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 2g fiber), 5g protein.
You might be surprised to see chocolate in any form on this list! One serving of dark chocolate cocoa almonds rings in at only 11g of carbohydrates. With 5g protein, this diabetes-friendly dessert can crush late-night cravings for something both sweet and crunchy. Plus, some studies suggest that the flavanoids in cocoa powder may help make cells more sensitive to insulin helping the body to utilize sugar in the blood.Shop Now
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta: 216 calories, 16.1g fat (10.3g saturated fat), 63.2mg cholesterol, 104mg sodium, 3.8g carbohydrate (0.3g sugars, 0g fiber), 14g protein.
Spoon a large dollop of this creamy, comforting cheese into a bowl then sprinkle with cinnamon and a dash of vanilla extra, then stir for a easy-to-make and satisfying dessert-like snack that's both high in protein and calcium. If you're hunger is really high, make it even more filling by topping with some slivered almonds which are known to help keep blood sugar down even after a meal.
23 crisps: 150 calories, 10g fat (7g saturated fat), 30mg cholesterol, 350mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate (0g sugars, 0g fiber), 13g protein.
Take two snack favorites, cheese and chips, and mash them into one to create a dense, enjoyable and low-carb snack. For true chip lovers, Cello Whisps can satisfy salt cravings without raising blood sugar. Plus, they'll leave you feeling more full than traditional corn or potato chips since they contain six times as much hunger-killing protein.
5 olives: 25 calories, 2.5g fat (0.5g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 210mg sodium, 0g carbohydrate (0g sugars, 0g fiber), 0g protein.
Spanish olives are both extremely low in carbohydrates and calories while at the same time being high in heart healthy and filling monounsaturated fats. Oleic acid, in particular, has been shown to have the added benefit of helping cells absorb sugar from the blood. Buy convenient, individually packaged 1-ounce packs and keep them on hand for a quick, appetite-taming snack that won't spike blood sugar.
35 chips: 130 calories, 6g fat (1g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 190mg sodium, 16g carbohydrate (0g sugars, 5g fiber), 5g protein.
These tasty slices boast being both a good source of fiber and protein, two nutrients that are digested slowly in the gut meaning that they have a longer-lasting impact when it comes to dampening down hunger. The base of Quevos chips is egg whites. White or whole, eggs are now associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes are no longer thought to ratchet up cholesterol levels making them an excellent food for nearly everyone.
3 pieces: 170 calories, 10g fat (6g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 30mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate (11g sugars, 3g fiber), 6g protein.
A blend of high protein, high fiber, and healthy fat is found in these delectable orbs thanks to the fact that they're made with seed butters. Each serving has pumpkin seeds, banana pieces and chocolate, make them an indulgent treat. Plus, they're free from common allergens such as nuts and gluten, so they're safe for most schools and workplaces. Don't miss these good rules for diabetic snacking.
Amelia Sherry, MPH, RD, CDCES, provides nutrition therapy via a New York-based private practice. She is also the founder of NourishHer, which supports mothers and daughters who want to have happy, healthy relationships with food and body. Amelia has written for publications including Reader's Digest, Family Circle, Fitness, SELF, Redbook, Latina, Today's Dietitian and Woman's World. She is also the author of 'Diet-Proof Your Daughter,' which you can find on Amazon.