Berries Are a Diabetes-Friendly Food

Bowl of different wild berries on wood
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Berries are a superfood—high in vitamin C, folic acid, fiber, and phytochemicals. As part of a healthy diet, they have been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, memory loss, high blood pressure, cancer, and now type 2 diabetes in both men and women, according to an October 2010 Journal of Nutrition article.

High Fiber Balances the Carbohydrates

Although a source of carbohydrates, the high-fiber content of berries makes them an excellent addition to a diabetic meal plan—of which approximately half the calories should come from carbohydrates.

The best time of year to buy berries is during the summer because they are in season and you'll get the best price. But don't swear off berries throughout the rest of the year; watch for sales on fresh or frozen berries.

Berry Nutrition Facts

Each of these servings of berries will give you 60 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrate:

  • 3/4 cup blueberries or blackberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 and 1/4 cup whole strawberries

How to Incorporate Berries into Your Diet

Here are some great ideas for using fresh or frozen berries in your diabetic meal plans:

  • Frozen berries are great to keep on hand in the colder months when you might be more inclined to enjoy a bowl of hot breakfast cereal. Just toss a handful into the pot while it's cooking or sprinkle frozen berries on top of cooked meal. The heat of the cereal will defrost the berries.
  • Use frozen berries (or fresh berries that are getting a little over-ripe) in smoothies. When made with low-fat dairy, silken tofu, and no added sugar, smoothies make an excellent diabetic meal replacement, packed with calcium, fiber, protein, and good carbohydrates.
  • For a quick lunch or snack, stir 3/4 cup of berries and 2 tablespoons of almonds or walnuts into 6 ounces of low-fat yogurt (250 calories; 27 grams of carbohydrate).
  • Berries can make a diabetic dinner salad a little more interesting and satisfying. Start with a 2-cup base of lettuce greens and other low-carbohydrate vegetables like peppers, green beans, broccoli, carrots, celery, cucumber, mushrooms or tomatoes. Add 2 ounces of protein, like grilled chicken breast. Top with 3/4 cup of berries and 2 tablespoons of low-fat Italian dressing (185 calories; 20 grams of carbohydrate).
  • Instead of syrup, add a half-cup of fresh berries as your topping for pancakes, waffles, French toast or even desserts like brownies or ice cream.

Recipes That Are Perfect for Berries

  • Diabetic Oatmeal Recipes: Berries are the perfect addition to oatmeal. These three recipes make great, healthy breakfast options.
  • Diabetic Smoothie Recipes: Berries can be added to any of these smoothies. Smoothies are a great place to use frozen berries.
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  1. Stull AJ, Cash KC, Johnson WD, Champagne CM, Cefalu WT. Bioactives in blueberries improve insulin sensitivity in obese, insulin-resistant men and women. J Nutr. 2010;140(10):1764-8. doi:10.3945/jn.110.125336