Is Dairy Healthy for Diabetics?

Is Dairy Healthy for Diabetics?

Dairy products are rich in protein and calcium, which makes them an important part of a healthy diet. When you have diabetes, you need to choose the dairy products you eat carefully to avoid excess sugar and fat. Here are some tips for including dairy in a healthy diabetic diet.

Dairy products that are healthy for diabetics

The American Diabetes Association recommends these dairy products for diabetics:

  • Fat-free or 1 percent milk
  • Plain non-fat yogurt (can be regular or Greek yogurt)

Soy or almond milk is recommended for diabetics who can't have cow's milk. Choose products that are fortified with calcium to get the nutritional benefits.

Dairy products to avoid

When choosing dairy products at the store, avoid flavored yogurts and milks that have added sugar. When you have diabetes, these products can elevate your blood sugar. Blood sugars levels that are too high can put you at risk of complications, such as damage to your eyes or kidneys.

The American Diabetes Association also recommends avoiding dairy products that are high in fat. This means avoiding or cutting back on whole milk, cream, most cheeses and full-fat yogurt. Switching from whole milk to 1 percent milk can reduce your saturated fat intake by 4 grams with every serving. Skim milk contains almost no saturated fat at all, making it an even better choice.

Cheese is high in saturated fat, so it's a good idea to cut back on how much you eat. Ice cream is high in fat and sugar, so is best avoided on a diabetic diet.

Whether or not you have diabetes, you should limit you saturated fat intake to no more than 10 percent of your total calories, or around 20 grams a day, as saturated fat raises the risk of heart disease. People with diabetes are already at high risk of heart disease, so it's even more important to cut down on saturated fat by switching to low-fat sources of dairy.

Fitting dairy products into a healthy diet

In addition to low-fat dairy products, diabetics should eat a diet that includes plenty of vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, with very little sugar. This kind of diet can be difficult to stick to, particularly if you have a sweet tooth. One healthy way to include dairy in your diet is to switch out sugary desserts for plain yogurt and berries.

Some diabetics count their carbohydrates as part of managing their condition. If your doctor has recommended that you stick to a certain carbohydrate limit every day, it's helpful to know how many carbohydrates are in dairy products. One cup of milk has about 12 grams while 6 ounces of non-fat yogurt has about 15 grams.

Dairy products can be a healthy part of a diabetic meal plan, as long as you make the right choices. Choose low-fat options without added sugar to help keep your diabetes under control.


About the Author:

Hannah Whiteoak is a professional freelance writer from the United Kingdom. She's been writing full-time for roughly five years and specializes in science and health topics.