Best Indian Foods That Help Manage Diabetes (2023 Update)

Last Updated on June 12, 2023 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide, with India having one of the highest numbers of cases. 1 Proper management of this condition requires lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and healthy eating habits.

In particular, diet plays a crucial role in managing blood sugar levels for those living with diabetes. Indian cuisine has an abundance of delicious dishes that are both flavorful and nutritious. However, when it comes to selecting foods suitable for diabetics, caution must be exercised since many Indian meals contain high amounts of carbohydrates and sugars. 2

Therefore, in this article, we will discuss the best Indian foods for diabetes – ones that help manage blood sugar levels while providing essential nutrients necessary for maintaining overall health.

What Is The Connection Between Indian Foods And Diabetes?

The connection between Indian foods and diabetes has been investigated in several studies to better understand how diet patterns impact glucose levels and glycemic index among diabetic individuals.

Veggie causing Diabetes

One study found that peri-conceptional diet patterns were associated with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) risk among women in Bangalore. The high-diversity, urban (HDU), rice-fried snacks-chicken-sweets (RFCS), and healthy, traditional vegetarian (HTV) diets were identified as major dietary patterns. 4

Another study found that higher intake of calories from saturated fatty acids (SFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) were linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes among Indian adults. Moreover, monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) and α-linolenic acid consumption was lower than national recommendations. 5

These findings suggest that a proper diabetes diet for Indians should be well-balanced while avoiding excessive intakes of SFA/PUFA and ensuring adequate MUFA/α-linolenic acid intake.

Which Nutrients Are Important For Managing Diabetes In Indian Foods?

A crucial aspect of managing diabetes is nutrition, and Indian cuisine offers a variety of options that are beneficial for individuals with this condition.


⭐ Check out this Flipbook with 30-Day Diabetic Meal Plan based on Foods from Each Indian State ⭐
(click on the ▶ arrow below to scroll the pages and 🔍 button to enlarge)


One key nutrient to consider when selecting foods is their impact on glucose levels. The glycemic index (GI) measures the effect of carbohydrates in food on blood sugar levels; low GI foods can help regulate glucose while high GI foods may cause spikes. 1

To maintain stable blood sugar levels, it is recommended to include more fiber-rich whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa in meals rather than refined flour-based products like naan or white rice.

Another important nutrient to manage diabetes effectively through diet is protein, which helps slow down carbohydrate absorption and improve insulin sensitivity. Indian vegetarian sources of protein include lentils, chickpeas, and paneer, while non-vegetarian options such as chicken tikka or tandoori fish also provide high-quality protein. 2

Additionally, incorporating healthy fats into an individual’s diet can be helpful for maintaining satiety and supporting heart health. Good examples of healthy fat sources in Indian cuisine include nuts, seeds, avocadoes, and ghee made from grass-fed cows. 5

Overall, by carefully choosing nutritious ingredients based on their impact on glucose levels and utilizing traditional staples found in Indian cuisine, individuals living with diabetes can successfully manage their condition through dietary interventions.

What Are The Best Indian Foods To Control Blood Sugar Levels?

Vegetarian foods that are beneficial for diabetes control include legumes, pulses, low-fat dairy products, nuts, and whole grains.

Non-vegetarian foods such as lean meats, fish, and eggs can be beneficial in controlling blood sugar levels.

Spices and herbs such as turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and garlic can also be beneficial in controlling blood sugar levels due to their anti-diabetic properties.

FoodType of FatBeneficial Nutrients
ChickpeasMUFA and PUFA-rich oilsFiber, Vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium
Brown BreadMUFA and PUFA-rich oilsVitamins, Minerals, Complex Carbohydrates
Boiled Egg WhitesOmega 3 fatty acidsProtein, Vitamin D, Selenium, Phosphorus
Whole Wheat ParathasMUFA and PUFA-rich oilsComplex carbohydrates, Protein, Fiber
RaitaOmega 3 fatty acidsCalcium, Vitamin A and C, Zinc, Protein
AlmondsMUFA and PUFA rich oilsVitamin E, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese
Sunflower SeedsOmega 3 fatty acidsVitamin E, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Iron
Pumpkin SeedsOmega 3 fatty acidsMagnesium, Manganese, Iron, Copper, Zinc

It is important to note that portion sizes should still be monitored when consuming non-vegetarian options and balanced with other healthy food choices to prevent overconsumption of saturated fats and cholesterol.

How Can Indian Spices and Herbs Help In Managing Diabetes And Enhancing Flavor?

Spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and fenugreek have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity while reducing blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes. In addition to managing diabetes, these spices and herbs add a burst of flavor to any dish.

For example, cumin adds an earthy taste while coriander provides a citrusy note. Curry leaves give off a slightly sweet aroma while mustard seeds offer a slight kick. The combination of these flavors can elevate any meal without compromising on health benefits for individuals with diabetes.

Other popular Indian herbs such as turmeric and ginger possess anti-inflammatory properties that can help manage diabetic complications such as neuropathy or kidney damage.

Incorporating Indian spices and herbs into daily cooking routines not only improves overall health but also enhances the dining experience.

How To Include Indian Foods In A Diabetes-Friendly Meal Plan?

As we have discussed earlier, India has a diverse range of foods that are suitable for diabetic patients. However, it is essential to know how to include these foods in your diabetes-friendly meal plan. Here we present a few tips on incorporating Indian foods into your diet while keeping your blood sugar levels in check.

  1. Choose whole grains: Whole grain options such as brown rice, quinoa, and millet are low glycemic index foods that aid in controlling blood sugar levels.
  2. Include lentils: Lentils provide fiber and protein, which helps regulate glucose absorption and improve insulin sensitivity.
  3. Opt for healthy fats: Incorporate healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, or avocado to help manage blood sugar levels.
  4. Monitor portion sizes: It’s crucial to monitor the quantity of food you consume since even healthy carbohydrate-rich foods can raise blood sugar levels if consumed excessively.

Incorporating Indian cuisine into a diabetes-friendly meal plan requires some effort but is entirely possible with proper planning and guidance from a healthcare professional. By choosing wholesome choices like whole grains and lentils instead of processed carbohydrates like white bread and refined flour, individuals can maintain stable glucose control throughout the day without risking high spikes or dips.

What Precautions To Take While Consuming Indian Foods For Diabetes Control?

When it comes to consuming Indian foods for diabetes control, several precautions must be taken. A diabetic patient should focus on a diet that is rich in protein and fiber while being low in processed carbohydrates. It is also essential to incorporate foods with a low glycemic index as they tend to have less effect on blood sugar levels. Additionally, including complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, lentils, and beans can help improve insulin sensitivity.

To make the process easier, we have created a table below outlining some of the best Indian foods for diabetes control:

FoodGlycemic Index (GI)
Brown Rice50

Apart from these food items, one should avoid deep-fried foods and sweets while maintaining portion control. Starting the day with soaked methi seeds or drinking lukewarm water can help regulate blood sugar levels. However, personalized dietary advice from healthcare professionals or registered dietitians is always recommended for an effective management plan. By incorporating these precautions into your daily routine, you can successfully manage your diabetes through healthy eating habits.

How to reverse diabetes with Indian food?

Indian cuisine can be an incredibly powerful tool in reversing diabetes. Eating a vegetarian diet that is rich in beans such as chickpeas, black beans, mung beans, and rajma, as well as brown bread, boiled egg whites, whole wheat parathas, and raita, can make all the difference. Eliminating trans-fat and saturated fats while consuming more MUFA and PUFA-rich oils, as well as including omega-3-rich foods, is essential for this type of diet plan. To get started on the path to reversing diabetes with Indian food, consider these three helpful tips:

1. Incorporate whole-wheat chapati, okra curry, raita, and nuts like almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds into your diet.

2. Try out a 7-day Indian diet plan for type 2 diabetes that includes vegetable oats, milk with oats or dalia, egg whites with whole wheat toast, and grilled vegetables.

3. Don’t forget to use portion control when it comes to meals and snacks! Utilizing these strategies could help you revolutionize your health and reverse diabetes in no time – thanks to the power of Indian cuisine.


The prevalence of diabetes in India is increasing at an alarming rate, with over 77 million people affected by the disease.

One way to manage diabetes is through dietary modifications and incorporating foods that are low in glycemic index and rich in nutrients.

Indian cuisine offers a wide variety of such foods, which can be consumed as part of a balanced diet plan.

It is important for individuals with diabetes to consume foods that are high in fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants while avoiding processed and sugary foods.

Herbs and spices commonly used in Indian cooking such as turmeric, cinnamon, fenugreek seeds, and cumin have also been shown to aid in managing blood sugar levels.

By following simple precautions like portion control and limiting oil intake while preparing these dishes, one can easily create a sustainable meal plan using traditional Indian recipes.

The incorporation of nutrient-rich whole grains, legumes, vegetables, herbs, and spices provides an opportunity to improve overall health while helping to regulate blood sugar levels.

With careful planning and attention to detail regarding ingredients and preparation methods when consuming or preparing meals containing Indian foods, it is possible for individuals with diabetes to enjoy flavorful meals without compromising their health goals.

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