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Let’s face it. One of the main problems those of us with diabetes have is our hunger and trying to find those in between meal snacks that are satisfying and taste good while also helping us maintain our blood sugar.
When it comes to snacks, or any food for that matter, I always look at the Glycemic Load. There are those who will tell you that the Glycemic Index is what matters, but the glycemic index doesn’t really give you a complete understanding of what a particular food will do to your blood sugar. It simply gives you a number based on 50 carbs of a specific food. The glycemic load takes into account what type of carb we are dealing with and how it truly affects your blood sugar postprandial.
I say this so that if you see a food on my list of best snacks and on another “experts” list it is on a list of worst snacks, you will know why. I will give you both the GI and GL of each food on this list. I also do not put my lists in any type of order. So here we go:
1. Popcorn. This is a food you will probably see on some worst snacks list because the GI is a medium 55. But the glycemic load of popcorn is a very low 2.8. In its unprocessed form, popcorn is considered a significant source of whole-grain fiber. I love popcorn for……..breakfast! Yes, popcorn with a little sucrose and 2% milk is a wonderful cereal. You may think I am crazy, fair enough, but try it. It truly is a great snack for anytime. Not just when watching a movie. A small microwave bag is the perfect size for a good snack.
2. Greek Yogurt. Greek Yogurt is rich in calcium, high in protein and probiotics. There are few foods healthier than Greek yogurt. They do have some carbs, but they aren’t significant. Greek only has about 4 grams of sugar per 6 ounce serving. Greek yogurt contains significant amounts of potassium, calcium and magnesium, which is shown to improve blood pressure. Calcium, phosphorous and magnesium are important in bone health also. The GI of Greek yogurt is 11, the GL is zero. Put some strawberries and walnuts in a cup of Greek yogurt and you are going to thank me later!
3. Walnuts. Speaking of walnuts. I am convinced walnuts are the overall best food for you. I know they are expensive, that’s why when I can find them on sale or buy them in bulk, I will jump at the chance. Stored properly they can last a while. Walnuts have a GI and GL of zero meaning that they have no significant effect on raising blood sugar, they are extremely heart healthy and they also contain copper, manganese, vitamin B1 and vitamin B6. Plus they are super rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
4. Strawberries/Blueberries. Strawberries –A great alternative to those with a sweet tooth is strawberries. They are sweet, low in calories and make a great snack. Several human studies have established that people who eat plenty of berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, have a lower risk of both diabetes, heart attacks and dementia. Studies have also linked the high vitamin C content of strawberries to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. One cup of fresh strawberries provides 160 percent of your daily need of vitamin C. Wanna really good snack? Blend fresh or frozen strawberries and/or blueberries into a smoothie. Both strawberries and blueberries have a low GI in the low 40’s as an average. They have an average GL of 4.
5. Peanut butter. Has anyone ever told you that someone with diabetes shouldn’t eat peanut butter? Tell them they are nuts. Peanut butter has a glycemic index of 14 and a glycemic load of 6. This low ranking means peanut butter helps stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels. Yes, they have a lot of calories and you will see several carbs on the label. But a tablespoon full of peanut butter is an amazing snack to fill you up. Peanut butter is is very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Niacin and Manganese.
6. Apples. I know, another fruit, but a small apple (about the size of a tennis ball) delivers 77 calories, 21 grams of carbohydrate and 4 grams of fiber. It’s also a good source of vitamin C and has a smattering of other vitamins and minerals. The main benefit of an apple is the richness they possess in soluble fiber. This fiber keeps you full and slows down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream helping regulate blood glucose levels. Apples have a GI of 39 and a GL of 4
7. A dark chocolate bar.
8. Boiled eggs.
9. Sting cheese.
10. I may get laughed off youtube for this one. But #10 is peanut M&Ms.