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Eat these 5 Foods to Help the Environment

Eat these 5 Foods to Help the Environment

These foods are some of the most eco-friendly

Some foods are better for the environment than others.


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Potatoes are a great choice if you’re looking to eat more sustainably; they don’t require as much water to grow as other foods and naturally produce compounds that fend off pests and diseases, which means they can be grown with less pesticide.


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Apples also require little water to grow — but they can quickly become unsustainable when it comes to pest control, so make sure you choose organic apples. And, if you choose local, in-season apples, you’ll significantly boost their environment-saving potential.


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If you have access to locally grown peas, purchase them. Peas can be grown with less synthetic fertilizer than some other foods, and they produce nitrogen, which promotes soil health.


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Small fish are lower on the food chain, which means fewer resources are used to raise them. If you’re not a fan of sardines, you can consult a sustainable seafood guide for other good choices.


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Swapping some of your animal-based protein for beans can have a positive impact on the environment since fewer inputs are needed to grow beans. As an added bonus, dried beans have a long shelf life, which means less food waste.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.


For A Healthier Planet, Eat These 50 Foods, Campaign Urges

Just three crops — wheat, corn and rice — make up nearly 60 percent of the plant-based calories in most diets, according to a new report. Above, a farmer inspects a plant in her dry maize field on March 13 in Zimbabwe. Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

Just three crops — wheat, corn and rice — make up nearly 60 percent of the plant-based calories in most diets, according to a new report. Above, a farmer inspects a plant in her dry maize field on March 13 in Zimbabwe.

Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images

Why would a wildlife conservation organization be involved in a campaign to push people to diversify their diets? As it turns out, the way we humans eat is very much linked to preserving wildlife — and many other issues. This was the topic at a recent conference in Paris, where the World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly the World Wildlife Fund) and Knorr foods teamed up to launch their campaign and report, titled "Future 50 Foods: 50 Foods for Healthier People and a Healthier Planet."

The WWF's David Edwards says that there has been a 60 percent decline in wildlife populations since 1970 and that working to protect animals is no longer enough to save them.

"We have to address the drivers of habitat loss and species collapse," says Edwards. "And the biggest driver is global farming."

According to the report, 75 percent of the food we consume comes from just 12 plant sources and five animal sources. And just three crops — wheat, corn and rice — make up nearly 60 percent of the plant-based calories in most diets.

The lack of variety in agriculture is both bad for nature and a threat to food security, the report says. It argues that it's essential we change our eating habits to protect the planet and ensure we are able to feed our growing global population.

The Salt

This Diet Is Better For the Planet. But Is It Better For You, Too?

The report says that repeatedly harvesting the same crop on the same land depletes nutrients in the soil, leading to intensive use of fertilizers and pesticides that, when misused, can hurt wildlife and damage the environment. The report pushes protein-rich, plant-based foods that can be eaten in addition to or instead of meat. Red meat production in particular requires much more water and land than plants and produces significant greenhouse gas emissions, and it's a driver of deforestation.

The staggering wildlife loss in the past 50 years includes the precipitous decline in insect populations — often referred to as the insect Armageddon. "Nature can't continue to take this pressure," says Edwards. "The food system has pushed wildlife to the extremes."

Maria Haga, the head of Crop Trust, an organization focused on preserving crop diversity, says the new campaign is on target. "We probably have globally like 30,000 plants that we could eat," she says. "We eat roughly 150 of those." And to have just a handful of crops be so dominant is "really a challenge for the whole food system."

Haga says dependence on just a few crops is also a threat to food security. The world's population is on track to reach 10 billion by 2050. If we're to feed everyone with a changing climate, says Haga, we'll need diverse crops that can adapt to extreme weather conditions. The planet has lost thousands of varieties of foods in the last hundred years, says Haga. And once they're gone, they're gone forever.

The Salt

Chew On This For Earth Day: How Our Diets Impact The Planet

Pierre Thiam from Senegal is now a chef in New York. He says people are beginning to wake up to the problem and to the wide variety of alternative foods, many of which he grew up eating. One example is the ancient grain fonio, which resembles couscous.

"It's a grain that's great for the planet," says Thiam. "And it's gluten free it's drought resistant it grows in two months it scores low on the glycemic index, so it's great for your health too."

Thiam says many of the items on the future-foods list are from Africa, which also has 60 percent of the world's arable land. But he says that in recent decades, multinational food companies have been pushing Africans to import foods from the West, like bouillon cubes. Thiam says that farmers are the backbone of the African economy and that boosting their ability to make a living would lift up the entire continent.

The campaign's 50 foods were selected for their high nutritional value, low environmental impact, flavor, accessibility and affordability. Besides grains like fonio, they include various mushrooms, beans and pulses, nuts, tubers, algae and cactuses.

Many of the food crops that the report recommends have higher yields than the crops we currently rely on, and several are tolerant of challenging weather and environmental conditions, meaning they could not only reduce the land required for crops but also prove invaluable in the face of growing climate uncertainty.

This conference being in France, the report was served up with a four-course lunch featuring some of the 50 products.

Back in the kitchen, chef François Roche is busy shaving salsify, a root vegetable, into the form of tagliatelle pasta. It will be served with British cheddar and fino sherry sauce, walnuts and smoked egg yolk. He says the menu is very plant focused. He does not cook with much meat, mostly using it as a seasoning or part of a dish.

The menu for a Foods for the Future luncheon included salsify tagliatelle with British cheddar and sherry sauce, walnuts and smoked egg yolk. Eleanor Beardsley/NPR hide caption

The menu for a Foods for the Future luncheon included salsify tagliatelle with British cheddar and sherry sauce, walnuts and smoked egg yolk.

Bongiwe Tshiqi is a magazine editor from South Africa. She's stunned by the wonderful tastes of all the plants. "This whole idea of diversifying our diets is very interesting from our perspective, because we come from a very staple, starch-and-meat type of environment in South Africa," she says. "Wheat and maize are the biggies for us. So learning what we can replace them with is amazing."

You might expect global food conglomerates to resist such a diversity push. But Dorothy Shaver, who is head of sustainability for Knorr, says the company wants to be part of this movement. She says the shift in the amount and types of food people eat is inevitable and will also open new markets.

"This actually gives us a major opportunity to identify some of the flavors that people are missing out on," she says. "And then we can get them on people's plates. We can get people to switch out one of their white potatoes that they eat potentially four or five times a week with a purple yam. Or in Indonesia make it an Indonesian sweet potato instead of white rice."

Shaver says doing this all over the planet would have an enormous impact on the environment. She says Knorr will try to mainstream 10 or 15 of these so-called future foods in its dishes. She says its popular cheddar and broccoli rice dish will soon have versions featuring black beans and quinoa instead of rice.

Sam Kass was White House chef under President Obama and directed first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign. Kass says with one in three American kids now headed for obesity, a push to diversify our diets — with a greater focus on plant-based foods — is exactly what's needed.

"What's exciting about this is some of the biggest issues we face – climate change and human health – are coming together and the solutions are deeply aligned," he says. "What's good for us is also better for the planet."

Kass says consumers can just as easily drive the solutions as the problems. And don't worry if you're not familiar with foods like fonio grain or salsify root. You can start by cutting back on meat and eating more beans.

"Any bean," says Kass. "You can't go wrong. Black beans, pinto beans . they couldn't be better for you, and they are as sustainable as any other product."

Correction March 24, 2019

An earlier version of this story misordered Bongiwe Tshiqi's name as Tshiqi Bongiwe.


How to eat environmentally friendly

It’s always a good day to take better care of and protect the planet. But did you know that what you eat can help make a difference too?

What we eat can help the environment

Every time we go to the grocery store or to restaurants, the foods we order and put in our grocery cart determine which foods get produced globally. Foods, and therefore our diets, have various water and carbon footprints, and some are better than others. There are several easy food swaps that we all can do to improve not just our health, but to also help the environment.

Go green with your diet

Plant-based diets have much smaller water and carbon footprints compared to animal foods. For example, it takes 39 gallons of water to produce one pound of vegetables. Conversely, it takes more than 1800 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. Animal foods also generate drastically more carbon emissions than plant foods. One serving of meat releases 330 grams of carbon dioxide into the air compared to just two grams for beans and lentils.

How you can eat environmentally friendly

Cutting out all meat and dairy isn’t realistic for everyone. Instead, there are some simple tweaks to our diets that can improve not just our health, but also the planet’s.


6 reasons to eat less meat

Eat better on a budget

You might think it's hard to find cheap, nutritious alternatives to tried and tested favourites. But eating healthily and sustainably can actually save you money.

Many more sustainable foods, including beans and pulses, are much cheaper than their meat alternatives. So when or if you do eat meat, you’ll be able to enjoy better quality, better tasting and more sustainable options too.

How can the government help us eat better?

The government needs to promote the benefits of eating less and better meat.

It should ensure that meals paid for by taxpayers – in places like schools, hospitals and care homes – use less but better meat and dairy.

And that it supports farmers to grow more plant-based protein, while removing subsidies that promote intensive meat production.

Also, it must end the harmful overuse of antibiotics in farming to ensure they remain effective in protecting human and livestock health.

How can the food industry help us eat better?

Businesses dealing in food need to make it easier for us to eat better. They should:

Increase the range of low- and no-meat products.

Some businesses are already making exciting changes to support everyone to eat less and better meat, cut the amount of food they waste and develop new meat-free options - but there is a lot more to do.

Eating better together: Who we work with

We're a founding member of Eating Better, an alliance of organisations working together to help everyone to eat less meat and dairy, and more food that’s better for our health and the planet.

A wide range of organisations are part of the alliance, with backgrounds in health, the environment, consumer affairs, social justice and animal welfare.


5 tips for sustainable eating

1. Prioritize plants

The Healthy Eating Plate suggests filling half your plate with vegetables and fruits as part of an optimal diet, but planning our meals around produce benefits the planet as well. Shifting to a more plant-based way of eating will help reduce freshwater withdrawals and deforestation (2) —a win-win for both our personal health and the environment.

2. Minimize meat

The Healthy Eating Plate already suggests reducing red meat, and now there’s another reason to treat it more as a condiment than a main dish. Meat production is a substantial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions – beef production especially – and the environmental burden deepens, as raising and transporting livestock also requires more food, water, land, and energy than plants (3). To eat for our own health as well as that of the planet, we should consider picking non-meat proteins such as nuts and legumes.

3. Select new seafood

Fish can be a healthy choice if part of an overall healthy dietary style, but some species are at risk of being overfished, or produced in ways that harm the marine environment. If your go-to variety of fish is on the “avoid” list, consider trying some new seafood.

4. Look local

Exploring farmers markets helps you find fresh produce grown locally, but equally important, you can meet the people who produce your food. Such relationships are opportunities for education: you can learn how your food was grown, when it was harvested, and even how to prepare it.

5. Eat mindfully

One of the simplest things you can do to eat more sustainably is to practice mindful eating. Focusing on what you’re eating allows you to reflect on where your food came from and how it is nourishing your body. Additionally, by tuning in to your hunger signals you may learn that you don’t need as much food as you thought, and resize your meals accordingly. By paying more attention to how we eat and thinking about the “bigger picture,” we may alter our food consumption and reduce food waste, as well as become encouraged to seek out more sustainable food sources.


The 7 Best Foods You Can Eat For An Eco-Friendly Diet

Food and climate change are linked in complicated ways. The global food industry requires an enormous amount of energy to cultivate, transport, store, prepare, and serve foods. This leads to lots of greenhouse gases, and, in the process, soils, rivers, oceans, forests, and more, are often degraded and destroyed.

Climate change, meanwhile, creates its own vicious cycles of activity — environmentally vulnerable countries are often the most food insecure. So as climate change increases, their agricultural potential often declines. Yet these countries need food and, subsequently, their reliance on the complicated logistics of food aid increases. Improving their adaptability and resilience is a critical part of any global food discussion.

But not all foods are created (transported, stored, prepared, and served) equally. Some foods have a really big impact on the environment and others don’t. A lot of factors influence ecological impact, and, if looked at holistically, it’s possible to develop a diet that is more eco-friendly.

Meat has the biggest environmental impact out of all food types, especially beef. But, like all foods, the full picture is complicated. There are a few overlooked environmental benefits to raising livestock when done in a limited way. Livestock's waste can be used as fertilizer that can help grow crops (reducing the need for chemical fertilizer). Most livestock feed is made up of waste products like spent grain, so raising livestock can create extra calories for humans to consume that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

But these benefits come with a major caveat: moderation. Eating meat on a daily basis can never be sustainable.

Almost all foods come with caveats of some kind, but there are clear choices that will make your diet more eco-friendly.

Here are some of the best foods to add to your diet.

Lentils

Lentils are humble superfoods. They live in the legume family (seeds of plants) and are great sources of fiber, protein, and various nutrients.

They have a very low carbon footprint — 43 times less than beef, for example — and require little water to grow. They also clean and fortify soil to make it easier to grow other crops.

And they’re extremely cheap.

2016 is the UN Year of the Pulses (legumes are pulses) — so head to their page to find some delicious recipes. Lentils are great in soups and are amazing on their own if you add some seasoning like curry.

Beans

Beans are also part of the legume family and they come in many colors and sizes — red kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, and more.

Beans have a remarkably low carbon and water footprint and are filled with fiber, protein, and nutrients.

They go great in soups or cold salads, but they excel when paired with rice. Rice and beans may be the best base for a meal — tasty, sustainable, nutritious.

Figs

Figs are actually flowers and they’re some of the most resilient plants on Earth. There are more than 750 figs across the planet and many of them act as lynchpins in ecosystems — their year-round growing habits provide a critical source of food for countless animals.

They’re also super nutritious and can be eaten in all sorts of ways.

Mussels

A photo posted by @prprosto on Aug 17, 2016 at 2:57am PDT

Many mussels are harvested on long collector ropes suspended in oceans. While growing along the ropes, they eat food that naturally occurs in the water. In the process, they filter and clean the water and extract carbon to make their shells. Cumulatively, they have little environmental impact.

Mussels are also an excellent source of animal protein — and they’re delicious!

Local, Seasonal Fish

The biggest problem facing the world’s fish supplies is not climate change. It’s overfishing. While overfishing is a problem all throughout the world, it’s most pressing near countries with weak regulation. Many fish, also, reproduce over long periods. The relentless pace of modern fishing never gives them a chance to recover their populations and so each year their numbers plummet closer and closer to dangerous levels.

But sustainable fishing is eminently possible — and is being done around the world.

If you want to support healthy fisheries that can maintain harmony in the oceans, then buy from sellers that can clearly describe a fish’s origins. And if possible, buy fish right from the people who caught it, either at farmer's markets or fish markets. And be sure to buy fish when they are in season.

Local, Organic Vegetables and Fruits

The “organic” movement sometimes comes under fire for, paradoxically, increasing environmental impact — sadly, as animals get more space to move around, their environmental impact increases (of course, this just means you should eat less meat). And crops that are grown far from their destination, no matter how sustainably grown, accumulate a larger eco-footprint when they travel.

For vegetables and fruits, though, organic almost always means environmentally beneficial. The more organic a farmer is able to go, the better. Organic crops help to maintain healthy soil and water sources and clean the air. Because they use less chemicals to grow, they’re also better for you.

However, this means that you should be eating fruits and vegetables when they’re in season so that you’re not supporting carbon-intensive supply chains.

If you’re able to join a community garden, that’s your best option.

Some of the most eco-friendly fruits and vegetables include broccoli, onions, potatoes, oranges, and apples.

Fair Trade Teas and Coffees

Oftentimes, however, coffee and tea are grown in unsustainable and unethical ways. Pesticide use and deforestation are rampant, coffee and tea plantation workers are exploited, and complex supply chains burn up lots of oil. Despite the bleak context, many brands are working to improve the conditions.

It's possible for humanity to create food in a way that maintains the integrity of the environment. It's not easy, but, over time, the indiviual choices of consumers can help to reshift global priorities.


Sustainable Eating

"Is it sustainable?" It's an increasingly important question being asked when it comes to agriculture and how we eat.

In agriculture, the concept of sustainability is applied toward the production of plant and animal products using farming techniques and practices that help to conserve natural resources with minimal impact on the environment. Sustainable agriculture enables us to produce healthful food without compromising future generations' ability to do the same.

Sustainable eating is about choosing foods that are healthful to our environment and our bodies. According the 2019 EAT-Lancet commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems, a global shift toward more plant-based foods would help feed the world's growing population a nutritious and sustainable diet. This plant-based eating style includes more legumes (beans, peas, lentils, peanuts), whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts, and less animal-based foods, especially red meat and processed meat. Limiting refined grains and added sugars is encouraged as well.

Tips for Sustainable Eating

Unless you're a farmer, the best way to support sustainable farming is to eat sustainably. Below are some tips to get you started.

Grow something. It could be herbs in a pot, tomatoes on a patio or a small plot in your yard. Not much gives you a greater appreciation for what it takes to create food than to grow your own. The process can help you gain an understanding of the factors involved in making plants thrive, the attention needed to successfully grow food and how precarious the process can be. Those insights may influence how you buy, use and dispose of food.

Shop locally. Shopping locally is a fun way to support your community. It keeps your dollars in the community in which you live and can help foster a healthy environment of diversity. When you purchase foods that were grown locally, it cuts down on the amount of fuel needed to ship the food to your market.

Initiate conversations about food. Talk with the farmers at your market, personnel at your grocery store and restaurateurs, or the growing number of people who are paying attention to how foods get on their plates. You can discover new tips, learn about new resources and find more local, sustainably-minded food producers and providers.

Eat seasonally. Blueberries don't grow in Montana during January, yet you can still buy them "fresh" at this time. This means they're likely coming from far, far away. When possible, focus on foods that are available in season where you live and you'll be supporting sustainability.

Tap your tap. Liquids can be heavy items to ship around the country and lots of fossil fuel is needed to tote them. Instead of purchasing bottled beverages, use a refillable bottle and fill it with water from the tap or filter.

Rethink your grocery list. Opt for foods in bulk, more minimally processed foods and more plant-based meals. These choices often require less packaging, waste, energy and water to produce them.

Vote with your wallet and your fork. There's no better way to affect the direction of our food system and what grocers, restaurateurs and food companies produce and sell than to influence their bottom line. Ask your food providers to support local farmers, local producers and sustainable agriculture. Show support through your buying decisions.


Which foods are more environmentally friendly?

Some foods create more damage to the environment than others but it doesn’t mean you need to abstain from consuming them completely. A modest reduction in the consumption of foods that contribute to Green House Gas (GHG) emissions can be a good place to start.

Below are some protein-rich foods and the impact they have on GHG emissions, land and water use.

Mean GHG emissions, land and water use values of different foods providing 100g of protein.

6. Nuts

Almonds, pecans, and peanuts are all excellent sources of soluble fiber, which the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends eating for children that are dealing with constipation. Adults can benefit from this recommendation, too, as a 200-calorie serving of pecans offers 11 percent of the Daily Value of dietary fiber, as well as five percent of the Daily Value of protein and a slew of minerals and vitamins.

In addition to keeping you regular, adding nuts to your diet may help lower the incidence of type 2 diabetes, prevent weight gain, and increase your overall lifespan. Plus, they&aposre also a great source of antioxidants like tocopherols, which may reduce the risk of certain cancers.


10 Foods to Eat Every Week to Help Control Diabetes

Living with diabetes no longer means adhering to a rigid food plan. In fact, today&aposs recommendation are highly individualized and flexible, with guidelines focusing on choosing a variety of nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy, lean protein, nuts, and healthy fats. And within these food groups, there are even a few specific foods that research suggests will not only keep you healthy, but may offer additional benefits when it comes to glucose management and diabetes-related health issues.

Check out these 10 foods that are worth adding to your weekly menus if you are living with diabetes.

1. Blueberries

The American Diabetes Association named blueberries a "superfood" — and for good reason. The tiny blue fruit delivers a hefty dose of antioxidants and fiber-rich carbohydrates that trigger a lower glycemic response than many other fruits. In addition, research suggests that making blueberries, strawberries, or other berries a regular part of your diet may improve insulin-resistance. This could potentially reduce the risk of becoming diabetic in those with pre-diabetes or a family history, and it could improve insulin-resistance and management in those already diagnosed.

2. Beans

High in fiber, black beans, navy beans, chickpeas, and other beans are good sources of both protein and slow-digesting carbohydrates. The combination offers short-term benefits by leaving your stomach full and preventing sudden glucose spikes, but also appears to have long-term benefits. A 2012 JAMA study had individuals incorporate one cup of beans or legumes a day as part of a low-glycemic diet for 12 weeks, while a control group ate other high-fiber carbohydrates as part of a low-glycemic diet. At the end of the study, those consuming beans had lower HgbA1c levels, lower blood pressure, and lower triglycerides.

3. Leafy Greens

Loading up on non-starchy vegetables is a good way to add more food to your plate without adding many calories or carbs. And leafy greens are some of the best low-carb veggies to add for those managing diabetes. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, lettuces, and other greens are packed full of beta-carotene and vitamin C, two antioxidants that are associated with reducing risk of heart disease and eye conditions, such as cataracts and macular degeneration. They&aposre also rich with magnesium, which is associated with reducing risk for type 2 diabetes. In fact, a 2010 study found that individuals who consumed more leafy greens had a significantly reduced risk of developing diabetes.

4. Almonds and Walnuts

Need a quick snack? Grab a handful of almonds, walnuts, or other tree nuts. The combination of fiber, protein, and fat slows absorption of the small amount of carbs in nuts to prevent blood sugar spikes. Several studies have even associated regular nut consumption with lower fasting blood glucose levels, improved insulin resistance, and improved A1c levels. Concerned about the fat and calories? Keep portion size to around one ounce per day, but don&apost avoid them since research suggests regularly eating this portion is associated with lower body weights.

5. Greek Yogurt

There&aposs a lot we still don&apost know about gut health, but it&aposs clear that maintaining a diverse supply of good bacteria in the GI tract is a key component to staying healthy, even helping to manage diabetes. According to a 2017 study that compiled results from 12 research trials, incorporating probiotics on a regular basis was associated with lower HgbA1c levels and fasting blood glucose in those with type 2 diabetes. A 2014 study found inflammatory markers decreased as well with probiotics, which could potentially reduce complications from diabetes. And one of the best ways to get probiotics is eating yogurt with live bacteria cultures. Choose Greek yogurt for higher levels of protein, and "plain" to avoid added sugars. Then add fresh fruit or nuts for a little sweetness and crunch.

6. Oranges

Juicy orange sections may seem too sweet to be beneficial, much less healthy, if trying to manage blood sugar levels. However, oranges are actually considered a low-glycemic food thanks to their soluble fiber content, making them a good fruit choice for those with type 2 diabetes. But this means it&aposs key to eat the fruit, rather than drink the juice. In addition, oranges and all other citrus fruits are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin C and folate, as well as potassium which helps to keep blood pressure in check.

7. Fish

Aim to eat in 8 to 12 ounces of fish each week, particularly cold-water ones that are higher in fat, such as salmon, trout, sardines, and mackerel. They are also good sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Most individuals don&apost get near the amount of omega-3s needed, and these fatty acids are play key roles when it comes to preventing heart disease. Omega-3s also work to reduce inflammation in the body, so incorporating them may help prevent or improve diabetic-inflammatory conditions like neuropathy in arms, legs, and extremities.

8. Oatmeal

Oats are a whole grain that can keep you fueled the first half of the day, as well as help manage glucose levels and reduce heart disease risk. In 2015, researchers pooled the results from 16 studies examining the effect that oats had on various health measures specifically in those with type 2 diabetes. Their summary suggested that regularly eating oats was associated with significant reductions in HghA1c, total cholesterol, and LDL levels, as well as a slight decrease in body weight and decline in triglycerides. For greatest benefit, choose groats (oat grains with only the husk removed), oat bran, or steel-cut oats. Skip instant oats that are usually highly refined and lacking in fiber.

9. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Diabetes increases one&aposs risk for heart disease and stroke. This means replacing less saturated fats and trans fats (often found in higher-fat meats, animal products, and processed foods) with healthier unsaturated fat and oil sources is essential. Avocados, nuts, and many cooking oils such as olive, sesame, and canola contain primarily unsaturated fats. But extra-virgin olive oil may be one of the best. The reason is that it contains a compound called oleocanthal that has anti-inflammatory effects, and reducing inflammation is important for those with diabetes since it lowers risk of developing diabetes complications like neuropathy. All olive oils contain oleocanthal, but less refined types like extra-virgin have higher levels, so make that your go-to for salad dressings and when cooking at lower heats.

10. Meatless Mains

Consider swapping poultry or meat with plant-based proteins sources like beans and tofu a few times a week. Skinless chicken and lean meats fit within a healthy diet to manage diabetes, but research suggests swapping them out on occasion to reap the benefits that plant proteins offer. Eating more meatless meals is of interest to health professionals because vegetarians have a significantly reduced risk of developing diabetes. Potential benefits from plant proteins are thought to come from increased antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber, as well as improvements in gut health.