Best Whole Grains for Type 2 Diabetes

By: Sara Barulli

October 08, 2020

How do you manage your diet when it comes to whole grains and other high-carb ingredients?

Whether you’ve been living with diabetes for years or you are newly diagnosed, figuring out a healthy, manageable diet can be tricky.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain a healthy diet that supports your body and doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes. The key is learning about carbs, how they work, and what you can do to control them.

Read on if you want to find out how other diabetics are including whole grains into their diet.

What Makes a Good Diabetic Diet?

With diabetes, you probably experience dangerous spikes in blood sugar. A good diabetic diet should include healthy foods that help you to control blood sugar levels. Most health professionals recommend that people with diabetes stick to healthy, unprocessed foods and eat at regular mealtimes.

Usually, diabetics should try to eat foods that are nutritious and low in fat and calories. Many healthcare professionals recommend making fruits, vegetables, and whole grains the three pillars of your diet.

Why Are Whole Grains Important in a Diabetic Diet?

Many people assume that they should avoid carbohydrates altogether in order to lose weight. However, some types of carbs are actually healthy. Whole grain’s effect on type 2 diabetes is hard to pin down, but it’s fairly clear that it doesn’t have a dangerous effect when consumed in moderate amounts.

Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, which helps to slow down the blood’s absorption of glucose.

Types of Whole Grain for a Diabetic Diet

We’ve constructed this list to focus on whole grains and healthy alternatives that will help you manage your diabetes.

Here are some of our top picks for the best whole grains for type 2 diabetes.

Bulgur

If you’re looking for good whole grains for diabetes, bulgur is a great place to start. It’s most commonly found in tabbouleh. According to Livestrong, bulgur has a great mix of protein, fiber, and healthy nutrients.

This means it’s an excellent alternative for less healthy carbs like pasta, couscous, or white rice, all of which can cause a spike in blood sugar.

How to eat bulgur: Try bulgur in tabbouleh, or cooked with nuts and thrown into a salad.

Why is bulgur good for diabetics: Its high fiber content means that it takes longer to digest than other carbs, which means blood sugar remains stable.

Whole Wheat

Whole wheat bread is made from whole wheat kernels that aren’t mixed up with other grains. Wheat bread is made from white flour. You can also purchase 100% white whole wheat bread, which is nutritionally identical to regular whole wheat bread.

In general, health professionals tend to recommend that diabetics stick to whole wheat or whole grain bread. In fact, whole grain bread is often preferable as it is made with high fiber ingredients like oats and bran.

How to eat whole wheat: Swap white bread for whole wheat or whole grain in sandwiches and wraps.

Why is whole wheat good for diabetics: The ADA recommends whole grain or 100% whole wheat bread over white bread for diabetics as it has a higher fiber content.

Whole Oats

Oats are one of the best grains for diabetics. They have a GI (glycemic index) score of 55, which is significantly lower than most other breakfast cereals. This makes them a good replacement for things like corn flakes.

With 8g of fiber per one serving of oatmeal, oats can also help you to reach your daily recommended amount of fiber.

How to eat whole oats: Make overnight oats in the fridge for breakfast, or even create your own snacks for diabetics by making a batch of healthy cookies.

Why are whole oats good for diabetics: They have a low GI of 55 and relatively high fiber content.

Whole Grain Corn

Many professionals recommend whole grain corn for diabetes because it is a good source of fiber along with other healthy vitamins and minerals. Corn has a GI of 52—however, certain corn products may have different GI levels. For instance, corn tortillas have a GI of 46, while cornflakes have a GI of 81.

It is important to discover the GI of individual products in open sources

How to eat corn: Try eating corn tortillas instead of white flour wraps. Corn rice for diabetic people can also be an excellent alternative to white rice.

Why is whole grain corn good for diabetics: It has a relatively low GI, plus moderate intake of starch can also be beneficial.

Brown Rice

Most professionals recommend that diabetics consume brown rice in moderation. Because brown rice has germ and bran layers in its composition, it is often considered a healthier and safer option than white rice.

Studies have shown that brown rice can actually reduce post-meal A1C in diabetics.

How to eat brown rice: Use this rice to replace white rice in meals, but be careful to eat all carbs in moderation.

Why is brown rice good for diabetics: It may lower A1C and promote weight loss when consumed in moderation.

Whole Rye

Whole rye is often considered one of the best grains for a diabetic diet. Whole rye bread is a type of whole grain bread.

This bread is low in calories and has a low GI of 41-46, making it one of the best breads for diabetics.

How to eat whole rye: Find a brand or a recipe that is healthy for diabetics and use it to make delicious open-faced sandwiches on toasted snacks.

Why is whole rye good for diabetics: It has an extremely low GI compared to other breads, and can help to facilitate weight loss.

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