By Alana Marie Burke
Diabetes is a metabolism disorder and thus diet plays a significant role in the management of the disease. While some foods can help lower the risk of diabetes and help with blood sugar management, other foods can exacerbate the symptoms and medical complications. Some of the worst foods for diabetics are heavily processed fast foods that are high in sodium, sugar, and fat.
According to the 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report, 29.1 million people in the United States have diabetes and some 8.1 million of them are undiagnosed. At least one-third of diagnosed diabetes cases occur in people over the age of 65. However, diabetes is also one of the most common chronic diseases among children in the United States.
These menu items commonly top the worst foods lists for diabetes:
1. Candy, cookies, syrup, and other sugary food items: According to nutrition and health expert Joy Bauer from NBC, these food choices lack nutritional value. In addition, they "also cause a dramatic spike in blood sugar levels and can contribute to weight gain, both of which can worsen diabetes complications."
2. White flour and processed grains like white rice: White flour and processed grains have been so refined that they have been stripped of their fiber and nutrients. These "bad carbs" are empty calories, are absorbed quickly by the body, and trigger a release of insulin, which affects blood sugar.
3. Higher-fat cuts of meat, hotdogs, and bacon: Diabetics need a low-fat diet that is also low in sodium. Processed meats contain a high level of both fat and sodium, which can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, reports Everyday Health.
4. Canned fruit, fruit drinks, jam, jelly, and preserves: These food choices make the worst list because they have too much added sugar. Even dried fruits can be an issue because the sugar content in them is concentrated.
5. Fried foods: Included in this category are food choices such as potato chips, French fries, and fried meats as they are very high in saturated fat. Carbohydrates are quickly converted into glucose, causing a rise in blood sugar. Fats however, slow down digestion and, according to Livestrong, "Instead of your blood sugar rising immediately, you may see a higher glucose level a few hours later."
6. Saturated fat: While the monounsaturated fats found in almonds and avocados can actually help protect heart health, foods high in saturated fat increase bad cholesterol. These foods include butter, cheese, lard, ground beef, and foods that are processed with hydrogenated fats, such as crackers, baked goods, and processed snacks. The American Diabetes Association suggests, "The goal for people with and without diabetes is to eat less than 10% of calories from saturated fat. For most people, eating this is about 20 grams of saturated fat per day."
7. Dairy that is not low-fat: This includes whole milk, regular cottage cheese, sour cream, half and half, and ice cream.
8. Vegetables high in starch: Diabetics should stick to low starch vegetables such as leafy greens, kale, and asparagus and avoid potatoes, peas, and corn. In addition, canned vegetables should be drained and rinsed to remove their high sodium content.
9. Soda: Harvard School of Public Health reports, "People who consume sugary drinks regularly—1 to 2 cans a day or more—have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks." The empty calories and sugar content of these beverages can have a significant adverse effect on glucose levels as well as weight management.
10. Specialty coffees and energy drink:; A cup of coffee with light milk is one thing. A fully loaded specialty coffee with sugar syrup, whipped cream, and flavorings is an entirely different beverage and can average over more than calories and 65 carbohydrates per serving. Most energy drinks are loaded with sugar and caffeine. "Energy drinks raise both blood pressure and heart rate. If you have high blood sugar, you already have a higher risk of developing heart disease and do not need to compound that risk by adding an energy drink," reports Livestrong.