According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.9% of Americans (that’s 11.8 million seniors) ages 65 and older are diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes. If you’re one of them, you know the importance of eating healthful snacks. Regular, healthy snacks keep glucose levels in check, and they also keep you energized throughout the day.
What are the best snacks to choose? Go for options that offer a balance of healthful fiber, carbohydrates and protein. Keep portions in check by using measuring cups and food scales to make sure weight and carb counts are accurate.
Here are 10 of our favorite snack options to help maintain a low-glycemic diet:
1. Kale Chips — High Fiber, Low-Calorie
Kale chips are packed with fiber, vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids that aid in controlling blood sugar levels and are low in calories and carbohydrates. They’re also easy to make at home. Mix four cups kale (wash, dry and tear into small pieces) with olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 250°F for 20 minutes.
For some, however, too much kale can be harmful. Lorie Eber, certified nutritionist and frequent contributor to Lifetime Daily wrote about the downsides of kale for older adults, especially those with gastrointestinal problems or individuals who take blood thinner medication.
2. Homemade Popcorn — Get Your Dietary Fiber
Homemade popcorn is great for its fiber content and trace amounts of vitamin B. Spice it up with ingredients such as chili powder, garlic powder and paprika. Try an Indian spiced version with turmeric, curry powder and salt, or add ground cinnamon to your fresh popcorn for a hint of sweetness. Spices such as cinnamon have antioxidants that can prevent inflammation associated with diabetes.
3. Apple Slices with Nut Butter — a Great Combo
Apples are a great fruit for diabetics because they provide dietary fiber. Pair with nut butter — peanut, sunflower seed, almond or cashew butter — to balance out the sugar and carbs. Nut butters have a low glycemic index due to their content of protein, healthy oil and fiber, which helps control blood sugar levels.
4. Baby Carrots and Guacamole — a Low-Calorie Snack
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene and fiber and make a great low-fat, low-calorie snack. Pair them with avocados, which are a good fat: they’re high in fiber, low in carbohydrates and naturally sodium- and cholesterol-free.
Note: For a healthy twist on guacamole, make a simple avocado dip with 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 ripe avocado, 1 clove garlic (minced), 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and a dash of salt.
5. Sweet Potato Fries — Low-Glycemic
Sweet potatoes are a good carbohydrate choice for diabetics because they have a low glycemic index. They are full of vitamin A, beta-carotene and dietary fiber. For an even lower glycemic index, leave the skins on. To prepare oven-baked sweet potato fries, slice sweet potato into strips. Arrange sweet potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a dash of salt. Bake at 450°F for 20 minutes, turning occasionally.
6. Nonfat Greek Yogurt — High in Protein
Nonfat plain Greek yogurt is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, and has no added sugar. The high protein content will help you feel full longer. Combine it with berries for the perfect healthy mix for diabetics. Blueberries are low on the glycemic index chart and are high in dietary fiber. They also contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which have been linked to risk reductions for Type 2 diabetes. Top with 1 teaspoon of flaxseed to add more fiber and omega-3 fatty acids to your meal.
7. Roasted Chickpeas — Good for Blood Sugar
Full of protein and fiber, this snack will keep you full and satisfied longer while maintaining good blood sugar levels. Chickpeas are high in magnesium and potassium, good for metabolizing blood sugar.
Although chickpeas are a starch, they’re also a good source of protein. To roast chickpeas, drain and rinse them and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, then bake at 400°F for 20-30 minutes. Season to taste with chili powder, cumin or other herbs.
8. Vegetable Kabobs — Low in Carbs
Skewer sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives, and drizzle with red wine vinegar. Or make Caprese kabobs by skewering tomatoes, low-fat mozzarella cubes and fresh basil on a toothpick, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar. This combination of vegetables and cheese is a good option as it has great flavor and is low in carbohydrates.
9. Edamame — Help Control Blood Glucose
Edamame is a great diabetic snack option because it’s a good source of protein and fiber, which can aid in blood glucose level control.
10. On-the-Go Snacks
If you’re going to be away from home for a good portion of the day, think ahead and pack a snack or two to take with you.
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