People with diabetes must be careful about consuming foods that raise blood sugar. Highly processed foods can be high in fat, salt, and sugar, which are also dangerous for those at high risk of stroke. However, there are plenty of nutritious foods stroke survivors with diabetes can enjoy that not only keep blood sugar under control but can also lower the risk of future strokes. Consider these seven nutritious foods for stroke survivors with diabetes.
Vegetables contain fiber, vitamins, and cancer-fighting antioxidants. They’re also low in carbohydrates, meaning they won’t raise blood sugar. Stroke survivors should consume at least three servings of healthy vegetables each day. Low-carbohydrate vegetables include cabbage, bell peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, green beans, spinach, yellow squash, lettuce, and tomatoes. When taking blood thinners, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider before consuming dark leafy vegetables, since they contain vitamin K, which may interfere with how blood thinners work.
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Fruits contain fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients that are healthy for stroke survivors, but fruits also contain sugar, so they should be consumed in moderation. Two cups of fruit each day can provide the fiber and nutrients stroke survivors need. A medium apple, medium orange, or small banana provides about one cup of fruit.
3. Healthy Fluids
Water is the healthiest drink choice for an individual with diabetes. It’s sugar-free, calorie-free, and refreshing. Sugar-free beverages such as coffee, low-fat milk, and tea are acceptable, but fruit juice can raise blood sugar quickly.
4. Whole Grains
Brown rice, oats, and whole-grain bread are good choices for stroke survivors. They do contain carbohydrates, but because they’re high in fiber, they take longer to digest and don’t raise blood sugar as quickly as other carbohydrate-rich foods. Whole grains retain fiber and other nutrients because they’re not processed like white rice and white bread. When choosing whole-grain products, make sure the first item in the ingredient list is “whole grain.” The healthiest whole-grain foods don’t contain added sugar.
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5. Low-Fat Dairy Products
Dairy products like milk and cheese contain calcium that builds strong bones and teeth. Low-fat or reduced-fat products without added sugar are the healthiest choices. Low-fat dairy products also provide protein.
6. Healthy Protein
Lean meat, poultry, and fish are carb-free and can be healthy protein choices when baked or grilled. Make sure to trim excess fat from meat and poultry before cooking. Two servings (equivalent to about six ounces per day) provide sufficient protein. Plant-based protein foods like beans and soy are also healthy options.
7. Healthy Fats
Olive oil is an example of a healthy fat because it’s monounsaturated. Unlike saturated fat from animal sources, monounsaturated fats have cholesterol-lowering properties. These fats also keep blood vessels and cells healthy. Other sources of monounsaturated fat include canola oil, avocados, and nuts. Stroke survivors should avoid saturated fat such as butter and lard. Trimming the fat away from meat prior to cooking can reduce saturated fat intake. Stroke survivors should also avoid trans fats such as shortening, hydrogenated oils, and partially hydrogenated oils found in processed food, since trans fats can raise bad cholesterol.
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