Healthy diabetic diet

If you have diabetes, you know it can be difficult to manage. What exactly should you eat, and how much? What foods should you avoid? 

In reality, a healthy diet is a healthy diabetes diet -- plenty of nutrient-rich foods such as fish, whole grains, legumes and vegetables. 

Too many think a diabetic diet is simply about reducing sugar, but it's much more than that. 

Environmental Nutrition offers a few hints: 

--Choose a variety of food groups -- protein, carbohydrates and fat. None should be eliminated. Complex carbs are needed for their fiber. 

--Look for foods - and habits -- that will aid in weight loss. Research shows that losing as little as 5 percent of body weight can improve blood sugar control. Portion control is important, as is decreasing sweets, sodas and alcohol. Choose skim milk over 2 percent or whole milk. Adding vegetables fills you up without adding a lot of calories. 

--Even diabetics need to consume less sodium, as those with diabetes and prediabetes have increased risks for heart disease and stroke. Most sodium isn't from the saltshaker, but comes from processed foods like bacon, deli meat, canned foods and salty snacks. 

--Choose more healthy fats (those high in omega-3s) and fewer saturated and trans fats. That's as easy as choosing skim milk instead of whole, skipping coconut oil (which is saturated), choosing lean meats over fattier cuts (a filet instead of a rib eye) and less bacon and sausage. 

--Salmon is a great source of omega-3s and simply choosing more fish in general is a healthy way to eat. Other sources of omega 3s are walnuts, ground flaxseed and chia, canola oil and soybean oil. 

--When it comes to vegetables, choose non-starchy (broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, carrots, spinach and tomatoes) over starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn. 

--Spread your carbohydrates (high in fiber) over three or four meals rather than having more carbs at any one meal. 

Q and A 

Q: Some creams, dietary supplements and even teas say they can protect or rejuvenate the skin. Is there anything to this? 

A: When it comes to so-called, "cosmeceutical" products that claim to improve the health or appearance of your skin or prevent skin aging, the honest answer is we just don't know if they work or not, according to Dr. Mathew Avram, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Dermatology Laser & Cosmetic Center. A lot of skin products make claims that can't be verified, but that doesn't mean that they're not true. That said, some creams contain substances that on a microscopic level are too large to penetrate through the top layer of the skin. However, some cosmeceuticals contain ingredients that are more plausible as active ingredients. Antioxidants are one example. But without scientific data, it's hard to know if these products actually work. The same applies to dietary supplements that claim to support skin health. But having an overall healthy diet and getting exercise will certainly be reflected in your skin. When outdoors and exposed to the sun, make sure to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, because exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays definitely damages and ages the skin and raises the risk of skin cancer. -- Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. 

RECIPE 

Here's a Cooking Light recipe for heart-healthy salmon is quick and easy. It gets a boost of flavor from tarragon and Dijon mustard. 

Panko Salmon with Snap Peas 

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 

1 1/2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise 

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided 

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided 

4 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets 

1/2 cup whole-wheat panko bread crumbs 

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, divided 

2 teaspoon grated lemon rind, divided 

2 tablespoon olive oil, divided 

2 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed 

1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 2 medium) 

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 

Combine mustard, mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl. Spoon mustard mixture evenly over fillets. Combine panko, 1 1/2 teaspoons tarragon and 1 teaspoon lemon rind in a bowl. Sprinkle panko mixture over fillets, pressing to adhere. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Carefully add fillets, panko side down, to pan. Cook 3-4 minutes or until golden; turn and cook 3-4 minutes more. Remove fillets from pan and keep warm. Increase heat to medium-high. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Add snap peas and shallots; cook 3 minutes, stirring. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons tarragon, remaining 1 teaspoon lemon rind and juice to pan; cook 2 minutes or until snap peas are crisp-tender. Serve with fillets. Serves 4, serving size, 1 fillet and 1/2 cup peas. 

Per serving: 387 calories, 39 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 3 g sugars, 18 g fat, 3 g fiber, 630 mg sodium. 

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