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10 Proven Eating Habits That Prevent Diabetes, According to New Science

Eat to beat diabetes with these new study-backed tips.


You brown-bag lunch and eat home-cooked dinners

Harvard School of Public Health researchers recently analyzed a few decades’ worth of data on about 100,000 participants from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Those who consumed around two homemade lunches or dinners a day (11 to 14 meals a week) had a 13 percent lower risk of developing diabetes than those who ate fewer than six such meals weekly. Homemade meal eaters gained less weight, which likely played a role in their lower diabetes risk.


You eat whole grains throughout the day

People who ate 10 grams of grain-based fiber (oatmeal for breakfast, quinoa in your lunch salad) reduced their risk of diabetes by 25 percent, according to recent research in the journal Diabetologia.


One of your daily snacks is walnuts

When people at risk of developing diabetes ate about 2 ounces of walnuts every day for three months, they experienced improvements in blood vessel function and a decrease in LDL cholesterol levels, both risk factors for type 2 diabetes. “Adding walnuts to your diet will improve your diet quality and health — cardiometabolic health specifically — and you can add walnuts without fear of weight gain because they are very satiating and appear to bump out other calories quite reliably and make room for themselves,” study author David L. Katz, MD, of the Yale University Prevention Research Center told Reuters. The study was funded by the California Walnut Commission.

iStock/john shepherd

Your diet includes these staples: tomatoes, potatoes, bananas

What do they have in common? They’re all rich in potassium, a mineral that a recent study linked with protecting the heart and kidney health of people with diabetes. Higher levels of urinary potassium excretion, which closely correlate with intake amounts, were linked with a slower decline of kidney function and a lower incidence of cardiovascular complications.


Your go-to foods don’t vary much from day to day

Researchers from Tufts University and the University of Texas Health Science Center recently discovered that people who have more diversity in their diets — perhaps counter-intuitively — had worse metabolic health, including larger waist circumferences, than people who tended to eat a smaller range of foods every day. “Americans with the healthiest diets actually eat a relatively small range of healthy foods,” Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, senior author and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, said in a press release. “These results suggest that in modern diets, eating ‘everything in moderation’ is actually worse than eating a smaller number of healthy foods.”


You heart yogurt

One additional serving of yogurt a day is linked with an 18 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a large Harvard study. Researchers hypothesize that yogurt’s probiotics may help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, but more clinical trials are needed to determine this. Total dairy consumption was not associated with diabetes risk, and the study didn’t differentiate between yogurt types.


You don’t graze all day long

People with diabetes are often told to eat six small meals throughout the day, but fewer, bigger meals may be better, according to a new study. Czech researchers analyzed data from a previous study comparing two diets in 54 people with type 2 diabetes. Participants ate six small meals per day for 12 weeks, then a large high-fiber breakfast and lunch (but no dinner) for 12 weeks. When they ate two meals a day,they reported feeling less hungry, lost more weight, had lower blood sugar, and noted stark improvements in mood.


If you eat bread at dinner, you save it for the end

People with type 2 diabetes had a 30 percent higher peak blood sugar when they ate bread before a meal compared with when they ate it after a meal, according to a small study published in Diabetes Care. Related research has shown that a rapid increase in blood sugar causes hormonal and metabolic changes that promote excessive eating in obese individuals. Eating bread after a meal slows the conversion of refined carbohydrates into sugar and may keep food consumption in check, especially in people with weight problems, insulin resistance, or diabetes.


You chew (and don’t chug) your fruit

People who ate whole fruits — particularly blueberries, apples, and grapes — at least twice a week cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 23 percent compared with people who ate them no more than once a month, according to a new study in BMJ. For fruit juice, however, the reverse was true. People who sipped a serving or more a day had up to a 21 percent increased risk of developing the metabolic disorder.


Your fridge is free of sugary drinks

One or two servings a day has been linked to as high as a 26 percent increased risk in developing diabetes. “Limiting intake is one simple change that will have a measurable impact on weight control and prevention of cardio-metabolic diseases,” Harvard researchers and authors of a recent Journal of the American College of Cardiology study concluded.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest