Many people with type 2 diabetes often wonder what foods are best for them to keep their blood sugar in control and prevent spikes in blood sugar levels. Others are in constant search of what foods to avoid or in other words worse foods for those living with type 2 diabetes.
The truth is: there are certainly foods that are ideal or best for type 2 diabetics, and there are those that should be dreaded like a plague.
Unfortunately, the internet is awash with many dos and don’ts in terms of foods for type 2 diabetics, but most of the information on the best and worse foods for type 2 diabetics is peddled by untrained people who at best only know the elementary basics of food. Others who advise most of those living with type 2 diabetes on what foods to eat that is best for them are simply repeating hearsays or worse yet assumptions.
So in this article, we will look at 5 best and worst Nigerian foods for type 2 diabetes
The 5 best foods for type 2 diabetics locally available Nigeria :
- Fatty fish: Those living with type 2 diabetes should eat fatty fish, this is because fatty fish contains omega-3 fats which help to reduce inflammation. It is also a great source of protein which is very key for blood sugar regulation especially for type 2 diabetes. Since those living with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk for heart disease and stroke, getting enough of these fats on a regular basis is especially important for type 2 diabetics. Fish, being a great source of protein as mentioned earlier helps one feel full and as such helps stabilize blood sugar. Examples of fatty fish are sardines, mackerel, salmon etc.
- Beans: Beans are very cheap, nutritious and have a low glycemic index(this means that the rate at which it raises blood sugar after eating is low). For an guide on making the right foods choices based on the glycaemic index, check out our new Eating guide here. This makes it a healthy option for people living with type 2 diabetes. In Nigeria, beans is readily available and affordable too. Beans is also rich in vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and even fiber. More interestingly, consumption of beans and other legumes can even reduce the chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Leafy green vegetables: Leafy green vegetables are low in calories and are rich in nutrients like vitamin C as well as anti-oxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, that help to protect your eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration which are common complications of type 2 diabetes. Also leafy green vegetables are low in digestible carbs or carbs absorbed by the body, so they do not significantly affect blood sugar levels. In Nigeria, leafy green vegetables that are commom are: Afang (Okazi), Editang, ugbogulu, ora, bitterleaf, kenkere, uturukpa, arira, uchakiri, utazi, Okra, Scent leaves, Pumpkin leaf, waterleaf, garden egg leaf, parsley, celery, etc
- Greek Yoghurt: Generally speaking, yoghurt promotes healthy blood sugar levels, helps with weight management and reduces the risk of heart diseases. Greek yoghurt is particularly a great choice for those living with type 2 diabetes and is readily available in most grocery shops , malls and supermarkets. It, like most other yoghurts contains probiotics which help to improve blood sugar management and reduce heart disease risk factors. It also helps to lower insulin resistance.
- Nuts: Nuts are very healthy for those living with type 2 diabetes, this is because, they are high in fiber and help to reduce low density lipoproteins(LDL) levels, which are bad cholesterol and also helps to reduce blood sugar. Here are some nuts available in the Nigerian soil: Almonds, cashew nuts, walnuts, groundnuts, etc
If you will love to get an expert guide to help you stabilise blood sugar, check out our new Book, The Nigerian Diabetes Cookbook Here
Now that we have looked at 5 Best food for type 2 diabetes in Nigeria, needless to say that there are even more very good foods that are very ideal for those living with type 2 diabetes in Nigeria, you can always find out more in this eating guide put together by a team of Nigerian dietitians.
Having said that, lets xray some very bad food choices for those living with type 2 diabetes in Nigeria, in no particular order:
Fruit flavored yoghurt. Recall that we had earlier mentioned that yoghurts are very good for those living with type 2 diabetes, but this should not be mistaken to mean sweetened yoghurts or flavored yoghurt. Fruit flavored yoghurts like Hollandia yoghurt and the likes are no go areas for type 2 diabetics for obvious reasons. They are very high in sugar and are “culprits” in raising blood sugar and insulin levels. They are typically made from non fat or low fat milk and packed with carbs and sugar. Never think that a so called frozen yoghurt is a healthy alternative to ice cream. It can contain just as much or even more sugar than ice cream. So, rather than choosing high sugar yoghurts that can spike your blood sugar, please opt for plain whole milk yoghurt that contains no sugar.
Trans fats. Remember that we earlier talked about healthy fats or saturated fats. On the contrary, Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been chemically altered to make them more stable. It is true that they do not directly raise blood sugar levels, they’ve been associated with increased inflammation, insulin resistance and even belly fat. So please, if you live in Nigeria and you are living with type 2 diabetes, its best to avoid margarine or butter, mayonnaise or so called salad cream and in fact any product that contains the words “partially hydrogenated” in its ingredient list.
Fruit juice. Fruit juices, whether mango, pear, apple etc are abundant in Nigeria. But these are not in the best interest of anyone living with type 2 diabetes. This is because, fruit juices contain fructose and if you remember your basic science, they are simple sugars which generally should be avoided because it can worsen insulin resistance, promote weight gain and increase the risk of heart disease. So don’t be deceived by their chilled nature or packaging. It is better to consume these fruits whole.
Sweetened breakfast cereals: Many breakfast cereals in Nigeria are not healthy for those living with type 2 diabetes. Eg Golden Morn, Corn Flakes, Cocoa Pops, name them. This is because they are very high in carbs but low in protein. And as you already know, low carb breakfast is the best option for appetite control for those living with type 2 diabetes. So do not be deceived by the claims on their labels.
Sugar sweetened beverages: For those living with type 2 diabetes, sugar sweetened beverage such as Ovaltine, horlicks, cowbell choco, milo, vitalo, pronto, bournvita, etc are the worst drink choice. They are high in carbs which increases blood sugar. Also, their high fructose level has been linked to insulin resistance and an increased risk of obesity, fatty liver etc. So in place of it drink water.
In conclusion: Healthy eating with type 2 diabetes should not be based on guesswork. You need a dietitian to guide you through. So please get one for yourself or click here to subscribe to our newsletter to help you gain freedom from type 2 diabetes.