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Q.

What is the recommended level of carbohydrate intake per meal for a man with type 2 diabetes?

 

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A.

Carbohydrates should make up about half of all of your calories. Carbs include:

  • bread

  • cereal

  • milk

  • fruit

  • vegetables

In general, it is recommended that you break your diet down this way:

  • 45% to 65% carbohydrates
    At least half of your carbs should come from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat milk. Aim for two to four servings of fruit and three to five servings of vegetables per day.

  • 25% to 40% fats
    Make monounsaturated fats the main fat type in your diet. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil and canola oil. They help raise "good" cholesterol (HDL) to healthy levels. Reduce the amount of polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats and trans fats that you eat. These unhealthy fats are found in meat, high-fat dairy products, oils that are hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated, and many processed, packaged and fried foods.

  • 15% to 20% protein

Pay attention to the type of carbohydrates you choose. Some carbs are good for you. Others you should avoid. Follow this advice:

Cut down on "refined" carbohydrates
Some carbs are rapidly digested. These include sugar, white bread, white rice and most pasta. If your meal is loaded with rapidly digested "carbs," it creates a high peak of blood sugar shortly after your meal. This prevents good blood sugar control.

Include more whole grains
Whole grain foods are digested more slowly. Fiber in whole grains is good for you.

Cut down on sugars
Recent research links "added sugar" in the diet to insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and diabetes. "Added sugar" refers to sugars that are not a natural part of whole fruits and vegetables, but are added during cooking, processing, or serving. Reduce the added sugars in your diet, particularly if you consume sweetened drinks. If you don't exercise much or if you drink alcohol, you should cut back more sharply on your added sugars. Fruit juice is less healthy than whole fruits. That's because juice does not contain fiber, but it still contains natural and often added sugars.

Limit "low-carb" diets to less than a year
Carbohydrates are important for nutrition. They provide vitamins, fiber and quick body fuel. Doctors do not recommend that people with diabetes permanently follow a "low-carb" diet. However, a low-carb diet is one way to lose weight -- if you limit it to a year or less. If you are not following a low-carb diet, you should eat at least 130 grams of carbohydrate per day. During a low-carb diet, your doctor should do blood tests from time to time to check your cholesterol and kidney function. Changes could occur as a result of the extra fat and protein you may eat while you are cutting down on carbs.

Copyright 8/11/2010 Harvard University. All rights reserved. HHP/HMS content licensing handled by Belvoir Media Group.

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