Vegetables

Remember: herbs, spices, lemon juice and vinegar can also be used to enhance the taste of vegetables.

Vegetables have a special place in the diet of a person with diabetes:

  • They are rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.
  • They are low in carbohydrates and generally have little impact on blood glucose (sugar) levels.

For these reasons, most meal plans allow an unlimited amount of vegetables.

Only people being treated with multiple daily insulin injections and who must calculate very precisely the amount of carbohydrates ingested must account for the amount of carbohydrates present in vegetables and include it in the meal’s total carbohydrate count.

Watch out for starchy vegetables

Some vegetables, such as corn, green peas, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, parsnips and winter squashes, are very high in carbohydrates. Consequently, their impact on blood glucose (sugar) levels is significant and their carbohydrate content must be added to the meal’s total carbohydrate count.

That is why, for diabetic individuals, these types of vegetables are classified in the Starches group in the Diabetes Québec Exchange System.

Amounts

Vegetables should make up half of an average-size dinner plate (with the exception of vegetables classified in the Starches group).

Tip

One serving of vegetables is the equivalent of the amount of vegetables that you could hold in both hands cupped together.

Variety

While it is beneficial to include a wide variety of vegetables in your meals and snacks, the most richly coloured vegetables generally contain the most vitamins and minerals. That is why it is recommended you eat brightly coloured vegetables as often as possible, such as broccoli, spinach, red and orange peppers, even carrots.

Vegetables, whether fresh, frozen or canned, are part of a balanced diet. Be adventurous and try adding new vegetables to your diet or preparing them in different ways.

Cooking and portion considerations

When you cook vegetables, opt for methods that conserve their nutrients: steam, microwave or bake in a conventional oven, or boil them with a minimum amount of water.

Taste your vegetables first. They may not need any added butter, margarine or salt?

Tip

Remember: herbs, spices, lemon juice and vinegar can also be used to enhance the taste of vegetables.

 

Research and text: Diabetes Québec Dietitian Team

June 2014 (updated on July 2018)

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