Diabetes is a chronic disease that has reached epidemic proportions among adults and children worldwide.
Uncontrolled diabetes has many serious consequences, including heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and other complications. Prediabetes has also been linked to these conditions.
Importantly, eating the wrong foods can raise your blood sugar and insulin levels and promote inflammation, which may increase your risk of disease.
This article lists the type of foods that people with diabetes or prediabetes should avoid.
Sugary beverages are the worst drink choice for someone with diabetes.
To begin with, they are very high in carbs, with a 12-ounce (354-ml) can of soda providing 38 grams.
The same amount of sweetened iced tea and lemonade each contain 36 grams of carbs, exclusively from sugar.
Industrial trans fats are extremely unhealthy.
They are created by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fatty acids in order to make them more stable.
Trans fats are found in margarines, peanut butter, spreads, creamers and frozen dinners. In addition, food manufacturers often add them to crackers, muffins and other baked goods to help extend shelf life.
White Bread, Pasta and Rice
White bread, rice and pasta are high-carb, processed foods.
Eating bread, bagels and other refined-flour foods has been shown to significantly increase blood sugar levels in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
And this response isn't exclusive to wheat products. In one study, gluten-free pastas were also shown to raise blood sugar, with rice-based types having the greatest effect.
Plain yogurt can be a good option for people with diabetes. However, fruit-flavored varieties are a very different story.
Flavored yogurts are typically made from non-fat or low-fat milk and loaded with carbs and sugar.
In fact, a one-cup (245-gram) serving of fruit-flavored yogurt may contain 47 grams of sugar, meaning nearly 81% of its calories come from sugar.
Many people consider frozen yogurt to be a healthy alternative to ice cream. However, it can contain just as much or even more sugar than ice cream.
Sweetened Breakfast Cereals
Eating cereal is one of the worst ways to start your day if you have diabetes.
Despite the health claims on their boxes, most cereals are highly processed and contain far more carbs than many people realize.
In addition, they provide very little protein, a nutrient that can help you feel full and satisfied while keeping your blood sugar levels stable during the day.
Even "healthy" breakfast cereals aren't good choices for those with diabetes.
Flavored Coffee Drinks
Coffee has been linked to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of diabetes.
However, flavored coffee drinks should be viewed as a liquid dessert, rather than a healthy beverage.
Studies have shown your brain doesn't process liquid and solid foods similarly. When you drink calories, you don't compensate by eating less later, potentially leading to weight gain.
Honey, Agave Nectar and Maple Syrup
People with diabetes often try to minimize their intake of white table sugar, as well as treats like candy, cookies and pie.
However, other forms of sugar can also cause blood sugar spikes. These include brown sugar and "natural" sugars like honey, agave nectar and maple syrup.
Although these sweeteners aren't highly processed, they contain at least as many carbs as white sugar. In fact, most contain even more.
Below are the carb counts of a one-tablespoon serving of popular sweeteners:
. White sugar: 12.6 grams (38)
. Agave nectar: 16 grams (39)
. Honey: 17 grams (40)
. Maple syrup: 13 grams (41)
Fruit is a great source of several important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and potassium. When fruit is dried, the process results in a loss of water that leads to even higher concentrations of these nutrients.
Unfortunately, its sugar content becomes more concentrated as well. One cup of grapes contains 27 grams of carbs, including 1 gram of fiber. By contrast, one cup of raisins contains 115 grams of carbs, 5 of which come from fiber.
Therefore, raisins contain more than three times as many carbs as grapes do. Other types of dried fruit are similarly higher in carbs when compared to fresh fruit.
If you have diabetes, you don't have to give up fruit altogether. Sticking with low-sugar fruits like fresh berries or a small apple can provide health benefits while keeping your blood sugar in the target range.
Packaged Snack Foods
Pretzels, crackers and other packaged foods aren't good snack choices.
They're typically made with refined flour and provide few nutrients, although they have plenty of fast-digesting carbs that can rapidly raise blood sugar.
Here are the carb counts for a one-ounce (28-gram) serving of some popular snacks:
. Saltine crackers: 21 grams of carbs, including 1 gram of fiber
. Pretzels: 22 grams of carbs, including 1 gram of fiber
. Graham crackers: 21 grams of carbs, including 1 gram of fiber
Although fruit juice is often considered a healthy beverage, its effects on blood sugar are actually similar to those of sodas and other sugary drinks.
This goes for unsweetened 100% fruit juice, as well as types that contain added sugar. In some cases, fruit juice is even higher in sugar and carbs than soda. For example, 8 ounces (250 ml) of unsweetened apple juice and soda contain 24 grams of sugar each. An equivalent serving of grape juice provides 32 grams of sugar.
Like sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice is loaded with fructose, the type of sugar that drives insulin resistance, obesity and heart disease. A much better alternative is to enjoy water with a wedge of lemon, which provides less than 1 gram of carbs and is virtually calorie-free.
French fries are a food to steer clear of, especially if you have diabetes. Potatoes themselves are relatively high in carbs. One medium potato with the skin on contains 37 grams of carbs, 4 of which come from fiber.
However, once they've been peeled and fried in vegetable oil, potatoes may do more than spike your blood sugar. Deep-frying foods has been shown to produce high amounts of toxic compounds like AGEs and aldehydes, which may promote inflammation and increase the risk of disease .
Indeed, several studies have linked frequently consuming french fries and other fried foods to heart disease and cancer. If you don't want to avoid potatoes altogether, eating a small amount of sweet potatoes is your best option.