14 Worst Foods for Diabetics
On the top of the WORST FOODS FOR DIABETICS list are offenders containing high amounts of fat, sodium, carbohydrate, sugar, and calories that may increase people who suffer from diabetes or are at a high risk of developing diabetes. Consuming these types of common foods on a regular basis may severely increase your risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, uncontrolled blood glucose, and weight gain.
Just because you may have diabetes, or are at risk for developing diabetes, does not mean total deprivation, starvation, or meals with only bland and boring foods. It does mean, however, that better planning and more attention to what goes into your mouth needs to be taken seriously. Most of the foods in a typical supermarket are best left on the shelves. With diabetes or without, it is wise to avoid or limit the foods on this list because they not only high in saturated fat and trans fat, which contribute to heart disease risk, but are acid forming and increase the inflammation in the body, decrease the body’s overall immune system and make the organ systems work harder to help the body detox from processing the eaten foods. These foods are also high in added sugar, which is an empty source of calories that can lead to weight gain and of course, throw off the body’s sugar balance.
If you see some of your favorite foods on this list, don’t lose heart: We’ve picked several healthier options for you to choose from. So you can have small fixed portions of fries and eat them, too, provided that they are baked rather than deep-fat fried.
1. Restaurant French Fries or other White Fried Potatoes
French fries are loaded with saturated fat, sodium, and calories. Although many fast-food restaurants offer trans-fat-free fries, that doesn’t make them healthy. Here’s a look at the nutritional breakdown for an order of large French fries from three fast-food chains
2. Hamburgers and Chicken and Fish Sandwiches
Big, cheesy hamburgers, fried chicken and fish sandwiches are high in saturated fat, the leading factor in high cholesterol levels. However, there is no need to cut out saturated fat completely. Just be aware of the amount of saturated fat intake per day. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to 7 percent of your total daily calories.
Most restaurant chains post their nutrition information online or at their business locations. It’s a good idea to check out a restaurant’s website before eating there so you’ll be better prepared to make smart food choices. If a restaurant’s nutrition information isn’t available, ask the staff about lighter menu options.
3. Fried Chicken
Fried chicken is another restaurant staple that should not be part of anyone’s diabetic meal plan. Frying the chicken adds significant carbs, calories, and fat, and turns a good protein choice into a heart-clogging deal-breaker.
4. Purchased Cookies
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 40 percent of trans fats consumed in the United States come from commercially made baked goods, such as cookies.
Sugar, butter, high-fructose corn syrup, shortening, margarine, and partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils are the biggest saturated fat and trans fat contributors that can also pile on calories and carbohydrates
5. Purchased Doughnuts and Baked Goods
Commercially made baked goods, such as muffins, pastries, and doughnuts, make our list of foods to avoid because of their high saturated fat content, but not all baked goods are created equal, so be sure to check food labels and look for fat-free, sugar-free, and reduced-sugar varieties. However, the best way to control what you eat is to make healthy fruit compote desserts or healthy baked goods yourself.
6. Cakes and Pies
More saturated fat offenders? Cakes and pies. Most cake mixes also have trans-fat, and high fructose corn syrup, so be sure to read labels carefully!
Cakes such as pound cake, cheesecake, and deceiving carrot cake are top offenders. Traditionally made with cream, butter, eggs, sugar, oil and flour, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists one slice of any of these cakes can have an entire day’s intake of saturated and trans fat. There is no recommendation for any percentage of trans-fat as part of your daily calories, so avoiding all trans fats can help lower cholesterol.
7. Frozen Meals
Frozen meals are convenient, but their high sodium and fat content can make them unhealthy choices
Most of Americans’ household food budget is spent on processed foods, the majority of which are filled with additives and stripped of nutrients. Processed, packaged foods have almost completely taken over the diet of Americans. Unfortunately, most processed foods are laden with sweeteners, salts, artificial flavors, factory-created fats, colorings, chemicals that alter texture, and preservatives. But the trouble is not just what’s been added, but what’s been taken away. Processed foods are often stripped of nutrients designed by nature to protect your heart, such as soluble fiber, antioxidants, and “good” fats. Combine that with additives, and you have a recipe for disaster.
A special note about trans-fats in processed foods you should know:
Trans fats are in moist bakery muffins and crispy crackers, microwave popcorn and fast-food French fries, even the stick margarine you may rely on as a “heart-healthy” alternative to saturated-fat-laden butter.
Once hailed as a cheap, heart-friendly replacement for butter, lard and coconut oil, trans fats have been denounced by one Harvard nutrition expert as “the biggest food-processing disaster in U.S. history.” Why? Research now reveals trans fats are twice as dangerous for your heart as saturated fat, and cause an estimated 30,000 to 100,000 premature heart disease deaths each year.
Trans fats are worse for your heart than saturated fats because they boost your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease “good” HDL cholesterol. That’s double trouble for your arteries. And unlike saturated fats, trans fats also raise your levels of artery-clogging lipo-proteins and triglycerides.
Check the ingredient list for any of these words: “partially hydrogenated,” “fractionated,” or “hydrogenated” (fully hydrogenated fats are not a heart threat, but some trans fats are mislabeled as “hydrogenated”). The higher up the phrase “partially hydrogenated oil” is on the list of ingredients, the more trans fat the product contains.
Replacing trans fats with good fats could cut your heart attack risk by a whopping 53 percent.
8. Processed Lunch Meat
Processed lunch meat is not only full of sodium, it probably has nitrates to help cure and preserve the meat for freshness. Sodium Nitrite helps prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism in humans and is also used alone or in conjunction with sodium nitrate as a color fixative in cured meat and poultry products (bologna, hot dogs, bacon). During the cooking process, nitrites combine with amines naturally present in meat to form carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds. It is also suspected that nitrites can combine with amines in the human stomach to form N-nitroso compounds. These compounds are known carcinogens and have been associated with cancer of the oral cavity, urinary bladder, esophagus, stomach, and brain.
Read the food nutrition labels printed on the packages you buy in the store, or ask your deli attendant to tell you the nutrition information for fresh-sliced meat.
Cut the sodium by slicing meat you have roasted at home or by asking specifically for meats lower in sodium.
Research in Sweden found that Swedes who ate on average 3 ounces of processed meat each day had a 15 percent greater chance of developing stomach cancer than those who consumed 2 ounces or less. The Cancer Research Center of Hawaii and the University of Southern California reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2005) that they studied 190,000 people, ages 45 to 75, for seven years. Those who ate the most processed meat (bacon, ham, cold cuts) had a 68% higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those who ate the least. “Most” was defined as at least 0.6 ounce processed meat, 1 ounce beef or 0.3 ounce pork per 1,000 calories consumed.
Dietitians suggest that you can help reduce the possible cancer-causing effects of sodium nitrite by consuming protective antioxidants before meals, such as vitamin C and vitamin E. But, remember, no vitamin offers 100% protection.
9. Regular Soft Drinks
According to the National Soft Drink Association (NSDA), consumption of soft drinks is now over 600 12-ounce servings (12 oz.) per person per year. Since the late 1970`s the soft drink consumption in the United States has doubled for females and tripled for males. The highest consumption is in the males between the ages of 12 – 29; they average 1/2 gallon a day or 160 gallons a year.
Sugar-laden soda is a quick derailer to your diabetic diet. Every 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon, so if your drink has 30 grams of sugar, that’s equal to 7.5 teaspoons of sugar.
Drinks with high sugar and carbohydrate contents not only add calories and carbs to your meal plan, but they may also raise blood glucose and cause weight gain.
Of course, there are diet versions of many drinks that are made with artificial sweeteners
10. Flavored Water
Most flavored waters have very high sugar contents and un-natural ingredients chucked in them to give them their yummy flavor. Do you really want to add calories and not feel filled up? Flavored waters will add artificial chemicals to add flavor, corn syrup, and artificial colorings that do more harm than good if you are trying to lose weight.
Flavored water from the store has too many additional ingredients to be recommended as a substitute for clean drinking water. Flavored water can be convenient, but the sugar hidden inside isn’t worth the price. Often high in sugar and carbohydrates, flavored water is surprisingly bad for you.
For example, typical Vitamin Water has 13 grams of sugar, 50 calories, and 13 grams of carbohydrate in an 8-ounce serving. The catch: This water beverage is sold in a 20-ounce bottle that contains 2.5 servings. If you drink the whole thing, you get more than double the sugar (32.5 grams), calories (125 grams), and carbohydrate (32.5 grams).
11. Purchased Smoothies
Filled with fruit and sold at colorful, fresh-looking hot spots, smoothies seem like great snacks or lunch choices. Unfortunately, it is the added sugar and an extra-large portion size that is hiding in that sweet beverage. Smoothie consumption grew more than 80 percent in the past 5 years! Recent studies conducted in Britain have shown that with the latest surge in the popularity of the fruit smoothies, we’re on the verge of a veritable epidemic of tooth decay and of course, the staggering rise of diabetes all over the developed worlds.
This may come as a shock for those of you who decided to replace the very unhealthy fizzy drinks with delicious combinations of fresh yogurt, ice cream and liberal amounts of fruit. Of course, this is perfectly true as far as the nutritional aspect of the matter is concerned and it’s always better to ingest a tasty dose of fruit than a glass of fizzy coke or any other synthetic drink. However, few of us considered the impact of fruit smoothies on the teeth of the adults and especially the young children who enjoy sipping them on a daily basis.
For example, the Mango Mantra Jamba Juice Light Smoothie* has 33 grams of sugar, 170 calories, and 36 grams of carbohydrate in a 16-ounce serving. Although it’s low in fat and gives you 90 percent of your daily value of vitamin C, the cons outweigh the pros for this “light” fruit smoothie.
12. Purchased Fruit Beverages
Fruit beverages make the list of worst foods for diabetes because they can be high in calories and sugar.
For example, Minute Maid Enhanced Pomegranate Blueberry 100% Juice Blend* has 29 grams of sugar, 120 calories, and 31 grams of carbohydrate in an 8-ounce serving. Minute Maid does offer a line of low-calorie juice drinks with 2 grams of sugar or less per 8-ounce serving
Rich, thick milkshakes from sit-down restaurants or fast-food joints are hiding places for bad-for-your-heart trans fat. They also are loaded with calories and sugar.
For example, a small chocolate milkshake at A&W Restaurant has 700 calories, 1 gram of trans fat (with 29 grams of total fat), and 60 grams of sugar. Topping it with whipped cream adds more calories and sugar to your meal.
14. Frozen Pizza
Pizza ranks high among favorite foods in the United States. It’s delicious, convenient, and you can eat it with your hands, plus it’s an icon of football games, birthday parties, and movie nights. The downside is that many commercially made pizzas are full of calories that can blow a meal plan in one slice.
Frozen pizza is convenient, but many varieties are high in calories, sodium, carbohydrates, and fat. Here is the nutrition information for one slice of these popular frozen pizzas
15. Restaurant Pizza
Pizza from a restaurant or take-out spot is just as bad as the frozen stuff. Here’s a tip: Cut sodium, fat, and calories by choosing a thin-crust pizza with veggies or lean meats like ham or chicken, and resist extra cheese. Start with a salad or side of steamed veggies with your pizza.
Everyone in the United States eats about 23 lbs., or 46 slices, every year. That’s around 350 slices of pizza each second, or 100 acres per day! Heart disease is also the United States’ number one killer.
Take into consideration the foods on this list and help yourself, your family and friends make better decisions when developing meal plans. There is a reason that diabetes affects close to 350 million people worldwide and close to 28 million people in the United States alone. Small conscious steps to better eating will make a huge impact on how you feel and the quality of life you and your loved ones may have. Try your hardest to plan ahead, eat fresh (mostly green) foods, not too much of it. . . and move your body!
Resources: realage.com, everydayhealth.com, webmd.com, rd.com, tudiabeties.org