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Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce (Type 1) or use (Type 2) insulin. Both types of diabetes result in abnormally high blood-sugar levels, which makes careful control of diet essential. Diabetics are at a higher risk for heart disease, high cholesterol and stroke than the general population. The disease itself can lead to liver and kidney damage and other complications. There are believed to be more than 23 million people with diabetes, including children and adults, in the United States alone. Not coincidentally, the safe foods for diabetics are the same foods that promote general health and well-being.
Because diabetics have a difficult time processing sugar in the blood, the general approach to diet is to limit foods that deliver a large amount of sugar to the blood quickly.
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of a food’s impact on blood sugar. Foods with simple sugars will have a high GI rating because they cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. Foods with more complex carbohydrates will have a lower GI score, even if they contain more total carbs because the sugars in the food will be released more slowly by the digestive process, resulting in a lower overall affect on blood sugar.
Fish and Lean Meats
Obesity and a high percentage of body fat are risk factors for diabetes and can exacerbate the condition. Thus, diabetics are advised to stay away from high-fat protein sources, such as most red meat and dairy products, which are high in fat. Fish is a good source of lean protein. Skinless chicken or turkey is another alternative. If you must eat beef or pork, choose lean cuts such as the loin. Avoid fried foods, and when you must use oils, use vegetable oils instead of solid, animal fats such as butter.
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