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Looking for Nigerian foods that diabetic patients can safely enjoy?
You’re in the right place.
Diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus, is a condition that affects millions worldwide.
It is caused by elevated blood sugar levels and demands a thoughtful approach to food choices.
Effective management of this condition often involves monitoring carbohydrate intake, choosing foods with a lower glycemic index, and paying close attention to portion sizes.
Currently, type 2 diabetes affects more than 11 million Nigerians, partly resulting in most of our foods being heavy in starch, carbs, and fat.
But we’re in luck! There’s a wealth of Nigerian ingredients and foods that can harmonize with diabetic meal plans.
We will cover them, but first, you should know the nutrients in these foods and how they help you.
The best foods for diabetics are foods that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats while minimizing or eliminating unhealthy carbs.
But how do these nutrients help?
Let me put you through.
Protein-rich foods take longer to digest, which means they can help you feel fuller for longer, which can result in weight loss or weight management.
They also don’t affect blood sugar levels, the combination of these two benefits makes protein essential for diabetics.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body is unable to break down.
How does this help?
Since the body can’t absorb it, it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels, and it also stays in the stomach for longer, keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
Fiber-rich foods delay the rate at which your body absorbs carbohydrates, helping you control and prevent blood sugar spikes.
Monounsaturated fats, Polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids are the three healthy fats you need for their various benefits.
Healthy fats are satiating, which keeps you feeling full, and reduces cravings.
And what do we tend to crave? Foods high in carbs.
Healthy fats also reduce the absorption rate of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, leading to better-stabilized blood sugar levels.
Noticing a trend here? These nutrients share a lot of the same benefits.
Now equipped with this knowledge, you’re ready for the list.
When it comes to managing diabetes, one of the most powerful tools at your disposal is your diet.
Although many Nigerian foods are fattening, we also have a variety of great options for weight management.
The foods I list below are foods high in protein, fiber, healthy fats, and complex carbs- The good carbs.
These are foods that are easily found here in Nigeria. So, let’s get into them.
Packed with protein and essential vitamins, eggs are a diabetes-friendly choice and can help control hunger, leading to weight loss/management and supporting muscle health.
They are nutritionally dense, meaning they provide lots of nutrients while sparing calories.
Contrary to what people used to believe, recent studies have shown that eggs don’t affect your cholesterol levels.
Try to eat at least one egg per day.
These lean meats are excellent sources of high-quality protein.
They contain zero carbohydrates and can help control hunger and maintain blood sugar levels.
Beans, one of our staples, are a great option for diabetics.
They are a source of plant-based protein which is preferable to animal sources for people with diabetes.
They also contain fiber and have a low glycemic index, making it a superfood.
Simply put, you can’t go wrong with it.
Rich in protein and high in omega-3 fatty acids, these seafood options offer anti-inflammatory benefits and support heart health.
They contain no carbs, provide healthy fats, and are a great food option when going on a weight-loss diet.
Greek yogurt is rich in protein, probiotics, and calcium.
It helps reduce the glycemic impact of your meals and improves overall health.
Awara, a mostly northern staple, is made from soybeans and is a valuable plant-based protein source, making them suitable for diabetics.
These veggies are fiber-rich and have a low glycemic index, which results in a slow release of glucose into the bloodstream and aids in blood sugar control.
They are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, a combination that makes them diabetes-friendly.
Nuts are a great snack addition to your diabetes diet.
They provide healthy fats, protein, and fiber, helping you manage blood sugar, curb hunger, and keep your heart healthy.
The high fiber content in ofada rice and brown rice helps stabilize blood sugar levels, making it a better choice than white rice for diabetes patients.
They also provide essential nutrients like magnesium, which is linked to improved insulin sensitivity.
Oats are rich in dietary fiber and are known for their low glycemic index (GI), making them an excellent choice for people with diabetes.
Additionally, oats may improve insulin sensitivity.
Whole wheat bread is made from whole grains and contains fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants.
Compared to white bread, whole wheat bread has a lower glycemic index due to its higher fiber content.
These fruits are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamins (especially vitamin C), and antioxidants, and have a low glycemic index.
They may help regulate blood sugar levels and promote a feeling of fullness.
Avocado is a good source of healthy fats, particularly monounsaturated fats, along with fiber, and vitamins (like vitamin K and folate).
Avocado’s healthy fats contribute to better insulin sensitivity, which helps the body utilize more blood glucose, leading to reduced blood sugar.
Alkaline water contains magnesium and antioxidants that may help improve insulin sensitivity, which contribute to lowering blood sugar levels.
These Nigerian beverages are low in carbohydrates and calories, provided it is consumed with minimal sugar, making them better choices than heavily sweetened sodas.
You can still enjoy most of your favorite foods even with diabetes, but it comes with some minimizing and careful tracking.
Let’s get into some Nigerian foods you should limit.
It is essential to choose carbohydrates wisely and in appropriate portions to avoid drastic blood sugar spikes.
These are some carb-heavy and starchy foods you should watch out for.
While fruits are generally a healthy choice, some have a higher GI than others, causing faster blood sugar spikes.
You should consider moderating the fruits below.
Most of our foods are fried and contain unhealthy fats.
Foods like fried meats, whole milk, butter, puff-puff, and other fried foods contain unhealthy fats that can be detrimental to diabetes management.
Convenience often comes at a cost, particularly for individuals with diabetes.
Highly processed foods and sugary pastries should be severely limited.
Sugary beverages from sodas to packaged fruit juices, and energy drinks are major culprits in raising blood glucose levels.
Minimize or avoid completely if you’re looking to manage your diabetes effectively.
Beyond specific and healthy food choices, there are several other things you can do that will make a significant difference in effectively managing diabetes.
Staying well-hydrated is essential for good blood sugar control.
Water helps your kidney remove excess glucose through urination.
Portion control is crucial for managing weight and controlling carbohydrate intake.
It helps prevent excessive glucose from entering the bloodstream and can also lead to weight loss.
Add regular exercise to your routine. Exercise can help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, this includes walking or a light jog, as recommended by health experts.
When shopping for groceries, pay attention to the nutritional values, and choose ingredients with low carbs, sodium, and sugars.
Keep track of your blood sugar levels as advised by your healthcare provider.
Regular monitoring helps you understand how different foods and activities affect your blood sugar, allowing you to make informed choices.
And there you have it. Managing diabetes and high blood pressure through diet involves focusing on essential nutrients like protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Go for diabetes-friendly foods such as eggs, lean meats, beans, leafy vegetables, whole grains, millet and select fruits.
Nigerian meals like Moi-Moi, high-protein soups and stews, pepper soup, unripe plantain porridge, boiled plantain, and vegetable soup are good options.
Be cautious of carb-dense foods, high-GI fruits, fried and processed items, and sugary drinks.
Stay hydrated, control portions, exercise regularly, shop wisely, and monitor blood sugar levels.
Consult with healthcare professionals for a personalized plan.