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Concerned about Diabetes? Don’t Eat These Foods

  • Category: LiveSmart
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  • Written By: Baldwin

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You may want to limit or avoid certain foods to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common chronic health conditions affecting Americans. While you can't control every risk factor for this serious disease, what you eat can have a big impact on whether or not you develop diabetes in your lifetime.

When it comes to lowering your risk of getting type 2 diabetes, it may seem obvious that foods containing high amounts of added sugar should be limited or avoided. That's because these foods quickly raise your blood sugar and any excess sugar that is not used for energy may contribute to insulin resistance and weight gain. Over time, this may contribute to the development of diabetes. But sugary treats aren't the only foods that can increase your risk.

Here are 4 types of food that may increase your risk for type 2 diabetes:

  • Foods with added sugars – It's no secret that foods containing added sugars are notorious for spiking blood sugar levels. But you may be surprised by how many foods contain added sugars. Of course, there are easy-to-spot foods like cookies, cakes, ice cream, soda and candy. But you may also find high amounts of added sugar in yogurt, dressings, sauces and foods that don't even taste sweet. Keep in mind that foods containing natural sugar, such as fruit, are not as much of a problem since they also contain dietary fiber. This helps prevents blood sugar spikes.
  • Foods made from refined starches – Many high-carbohydrate foods, such as white bread, pasta, pizza, pretzels and crackers, are made from refined flour. During the process of refining flour, the bran and germ are removed from the grain, which also strips it of healthy dietary fiber. Without fiber to slow down digestion, the starches in these foods spike blood sugar when you eat them, much in the same way as when you eat sugary foods. This can increase your risk of insulin resistance, weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
  • Highly processed foods – Many processed foods are high in calories, fat, sugar, salt, preservatives or all of the above. They're also typically low in dietary fiber and other important nutrients. This may lead to weight gain, which increases your risk of diabetes. To lower your risk, focus on eating more whole and unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats.
  • Foods high in "bad" fats – Sugar and starches are the biggest dietary culprits in raising diabetes risk, but eating too many unhealthy fats may also affect diabetes risk. Saturated fats, in foods like red meat, pork, dark meat poultry (or poultry with the skin on), cheese, butter, milk, coconut and palm oil, may contribute to weight gain and insulin resistance, which can increase diabetes risk. Trans fats, in foods like margarine and packaged snack foods, may also increase risk. Thankfully, many manufacturers have stopped using this dangerous type of fat.

While there is no way to guarantee that you won't develop type 2 diabetes, following a healthy diet lowers your risk. Practicing other healthy habits, such as exercising regularly, may also help protect you against this serious chronic disease.

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Date Last Reviewed: February 15, 2024

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RDN, CLT

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