Diet plays a major role in the treatment of diabetes. The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends a healthy diet that includes a variety of foods from all of the food groups, including vegetables and fruits.
A diet high in fibre is recommended for people living with diabetes. In fact, a higher intake of fibre is recommended for individuals living with diabetes than the general population. Fibre is digested very slowly, and thus delays the absorption of sugar, resulting in a slow rise of blood sugars after meals. Fibre also helps fill you up, keeps your digestive system happy, lowers cholesterol, and helps control blood pressure. Including vegetables and fruit in your meals is one of the best ways to make sure you get enough fibre each day. Try to include the peel, whenever possible!
Tip: Choose vegetables and fruits more often than juice. Eating whole vegetables and fruit provides more fibre than juice.
Did you know that eating a variety of colourful vegetables and fruit every day will reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke? Researchers have learned the health benefits from vegetable and fruit go beyond nutrients. Vegetables and fruits contain plant components, called phytochemicals, which have benefits that protect against disease.
Tip: Grab easy on-the-go fruit snacks like bananas, apples, peaches, plums, oranges and grapes.
Try a new vegetable and fruit everyday! Unfortunately, the average person consumes less than 5 servings of vegetables and fruits each day, and Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide recommends that adults eat 7-10 servings of vegetables and fruit per day. It is easier than you think to get the recommended vegetables and fruit in your diet. If you can, try to include one or more at every meal and snack. Be adventurous! Try one new vegetable or fruit every week – there are wide varieties to choose from!
Tip: For a quick snack – keep washed and sliced carrots, peppers, cucumbers or cherry tomatoes in the fridge. Keeping fruit where you can see it will increase the likelihood you will eat it!
What is a serving of vegetables and fruit? One Food Guide Serving is equal to:
- 1 medium piece of fresh fruit
- 125 mL (1/2 cup) of cut up fresh, frozen or canned fruit or vegetable
- 250 mL (1 cup) of green salad
- 125 mL (1/2 cup) of 100% fruit juice
- 60 mL (1/4 cup) dried fruit
Colour your plate! Eating vegetables and fruits of a variety of different colours, will give you the best health benefits. Each colour of vegetable and fruit contains unique benefits that are important to our health. Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide encourages everyone to have at least one dark green vegetable such as spinach, kale, okra, collard greens or broccoli and an orange vegetable like carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, squash or yam everyday. Maximize your intake by choosing a variety of colours to receive a broad range of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals.
Tip: Try filling half your plate with vegetables at each meal. Serving up salads and stir-fries make this an easy task. You can also add fresh or frozen vegetables to casseroles, spaghetti sauce, stews, or chili.
Fresh, frozen, canned vegetables and fruit are all nutritious options! Frozen and canned vegetables and fruit have about the same nutritional value as fresh. Frozen and canned produce are picked at peak ripeness to preserve its nutritional value. Look for canned produce made with no-added sugar and canned in water or their own juice. Rinse canned items under water to remove some of the added salt. Limit pickled vegetables such as sauerkraut and others that are prepared in brine like pickles and olives, as these foods are higher in salt.
Tip: Use frozen or canned vegetables and fruits, pre-washed bagged salads or pre-cut vegetables and fruit to save time.
Vegetables and fruit are delicious and nutritious! Try these easy tips to incorporate more vegetables and fruit into your day:
- Add sliced fresh fruit to your yogurt, oatmeal or breakfast cereal
- Have fruit as dessert! Try a baked apple with cinnamon; peaches and cottage cheese; spiced poached pears or grilled pineapple.
- Make a homemade pizza and top with pineapple, olives, roasted pepper, onion, tomatoes and mushrooms.
- Add extra vegetables when making pasta or rice. Try adding cherry tomatoes, baby spinach, or canned corn and peas.
1) Canadian Diabetes Association (2008) .Canadian Diabetes Association 2008 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada. Canadian Journal of Diabetes. September 2008, 32(1). Retrieved from: http://www.diabetes.ca/files/cpg2008/cpg-2008.pdf
2) Health Canada (2007). Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide. Retrieved from: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/alt_formats/hpfb-dgpsa/pdf/food-guide-aliment/view_eatwell_vue_bienmang-eng.pdf
3) Health Canada (2007). Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide: A resource for Educators and Communicators. Retrieved from: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/pubs/res-educat/res-educat-eng.php
4) Statistics Canada (2012). Fruit and vegetable consumption, 2011. Retrieved from: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2012001/article/11661-eng.htm