10 Diabetes-Friendly Grain Alternatives

April 12, 2018  |  
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For those who are living with the blood sugar disease diabetes, figuring out the right foods to eat isn’t always the easiest. This is especially true when trying to incorporate carbohydrates into your diet. Here are 10 heart healthy grain alternatives that are proven to help lower and regulate blood sugar.



Technically a fruit but commonly used in the place of a grain, buckwheat is high in essential nutrients like magnesium, phytonutrients, and dietary fiber. Buckwheat commonly comes in the form of raw or toasted grouts, noodles, and flour. Get creative by turning raw grouts into a hot grain-free porridge.



A staple in South Indian cuisine, this nutrient powerhouse is chock full of protein (six grams per cup to be exact), B vitamins, and bran, which aides in digestion. The high fiber content in millet slows digestion and releases sugar into the blood stream at a more even pace. Swap millet in recipes that call for rice, or use it to make a hearty, healthy and blood sugar- friendly hot breakfast cereal.




Once deemed the food of the gladiators,  barley is high in soluble fiber, which slows down the absorption of carbohydrates, and low on the glycemic index. Breakfast cereals containing barley are a great way to incorporate this health food into a diabetic diet.



With a particularly low glycemic index, rye is commonly refined into a flour and used for baking. Diabetics looking for the perfect bread should consider pumpernickel that is made from whole rye.



This ancient Ethiopian grain is experiencing a renaissance of sorts as more and more people are beginning to incorporate it into their diets. About the size of a poppyseed, teff is gluten-free, rich in vitamins and minerals, and is also a resistant starch that doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes. Full of fiber and manganese, this ancient grain helps manage diabetic symptoms by slowing the release of insulin into the bloodstream. Eat it like a porridge, treat it like grits or polenta, or add it to soups and stews.



This nutty-flavored wheat is high in fiber that regulates blood sugar and helps with weight management by making you feel fuller for longer. Consider spelt flour a nutrient-rich alternative to plain white flour.



Oats are the O.G. complex carbohydrate choice for diabetics looking for a low glycemic index breakfast choice. The high fiber content keeps you full longer, helping with weight management as well as working to keep your blood sugar regulated. Steel cut, unrefined oats are the healthiest to consume and work well in basic breakfast porridge and baked goods.


Black Rice

Once called the forbidden rice in China, stemming from a time when only the elite were permitted to grow it, this grain of a purple hue is the healthiest rice variety of all. Black rice is notably high in fiber, but it is also the only rice that contains the antioxidant anthocyanin, which promotes cell regeneration.



A staple of the South American diet for centuries, the most popular varieties of this high fiber grain are white, red, and black. The amino acids found in quinoa make it a complete protein, which is necessary for a healthy diabetic eating plan.



Amaranth is high in protein and contains more calcium than milk. It’s also a great source of fiber, iron, and potassium. Eat in place of rice and pair with lean protein sources.

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