Diet for Diabetes (Type-2)

Indian Thali Roti and Rice
Indian Thali

what is the best diet for diabetes?

Healthy eating habits and good control over blood sugar through diet, exercise and medicine are the fundamental aspects for diabetes control. One of the major factors for effectively controlling blood sugar in type-2 diabetes is proper diet.

There is no single diet which can meet the requirements of all diabetic persons. It is therefore necessary for every person suffering from diabetes to see the dietician and assess his or her individual requirements of proper diet. Here only the most general approach for diet in diabetes is taken.

General dietary guidelines for type-2 diabetes

A heart-healthy diet which is:

is generally suitable for most people with diabetes for good glycemic control (glycemic = related to blood glucose). Variations according to individual glycemic level in consultation with your dietician may be made.


Among the macrontrients (protein, carbs and fat), the impact of carbohydrates on rise in blood sugar is the maximum.

Carbohydrates are of two types:

The simple carbohydrates and the complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates

Sugar, glucose, fructose, maltose, lactose etc. are examples of simple carbohydrates. For general health purposes and for blood glucose control, it is better to avoid them, because they get quickly digested and cause weight gain (read fat gain!) in healthy people, rise in blood sugar in diabetes and rise in LDL cholesterol levels. Diabetics should strictly avoid all simple sugars and food items containing simple sugars.

Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are mostly starch and starch-like substances. They are made up of multiple molecules of simple sugars like glucose. The take longer to be absorbed in the blood and generally are better for health than their simple counterparts. Complex carbohydrates are abundantly available in grains, vegetables, fruits, bread, oats, pasta, rice, potatoes etc.

Diabetic persons should consume complex carbohydrates in moderation. 60 to 70 % calories should come from complex carbohydrates.

Protein: the most important and indispensable nutrient!

Protein is a general name of chemical compounds formed by combining the basic building blocks called amino acids in a highly varied and complex chemical manner. The role of protein is very important in the body, which cannot be played by any other nutrient. Likewise a protein’s amino acid content is even more important than the total amount of protein.

There are grades of protein based on the amino acid content and their proportion with respect to one another. Proteins derived from animal sources are regarded as better proteins than their plant based counterparts. But for diabetics and heart patients, animal proteins may pose a greater risk due to the fact that animal foods are rich in saturated fat and cholesterol also. For this reason, a better alternative to animal protein is protein from soy (soya)

Calories from protein for a diabetic person should be 10 to 12 % of the total calories. (taking into account the risk of diabetic nephropathy)


Although fats do not raise blood sugar quickly, its intake should be minimized because it enhances insulin resistance and obesity which in long term will worsen your control over blood sugar. It will also accelerate atherosclerosis (plaque deposits on the inner walls of the arteries of the heart).

Saturated fats

When all carbon atoms are saturated by single bonding with hydrogen atoms, as well as with other carbon atoms, the fatty acid is called saturated. For disease control, and health maintenance, one should avoid saturated fats because they promote atherosclerosis (formation of plaque on the inner walls of the arteries). When arteries of the heart (coronary arteries) get clogged, the blood supply to the heart will be affected leading to heart attack. Read more about heart disease...

Saturated fats should not exceed 10% of your total daily calorie intake. Animal fats are the major sources of saturated fats. Vegetarianism is therefore health-promoting.

Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs)

In a fatty acid chain, if there is a carbon-carbon double bond due to absence of two hydrogen atoms, it is called mono-unsaturated fatty acid (MUFA). For disease control, and health maintenance, one should consume MUFAs in place of saturated fats. MUFAs are heart friendly.

Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs)

If there are more than one a carbon-carbon double bond, it is called poly-unsaturated fatty acid (PUFA). PUFAs are also heart friendly to some extent provided they are consumed in proper proportion with the so-called omega-3 fatty acids.