Nutrition & Diabetes

Archive for January 2011

This week’s question is: I have diabetes and love snacking on nuts (particularly smoked/flavored almonds).  Are nuts ok to snack on and if so, are there certain types I should look for?

Almonds are a great snack and a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (a.k.a.  the good fats).

One serving of almonds and other types of nuts have zero carbohydrates.   This type of food will not raise your blood sugar levels as much as high carbohydrate rich food.  Since nuts are considered a fat source and nut spreads are a high fat meat source, the almonds you consume need to be eaten in moderation.

Below I listed the serving sizes of nuts and the nut spreads.  Keep in mind that most people eat more than the serving size, so watch out for that.  If you eat two servings of nuts, that is okay, but try not go over two servings.  This is especially true if you are going to eat your almonds with other food items.   For example, if you eat a sandwich with potato chips and you want some almonds with that meal, then you would be consuming more fat than needed.  That meal would already be high in fat due to the chips.  Also, the sandwich might be high in fat depending on the type of cheese or meat used or if the sandwich had mayo.  So, if this is the case and you really want your almonds, then it would be a good idea to replace the potato chips with the almonds.

Replacing saturated fats with the good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) like almonds have been linked with decreasing LDL levels (bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL levels (good cholesterol).    It is all about replacing saturated fat with the good fats.

Some sources of good fats are olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, avocados, flaxseed, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, soybeans.

One tablespoon of nut spreads is one serving size of a high fat meat source (plant-based protein).  One serving has zero carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein, 8+ grams of fat, and 100 calories.

Almond butter – 1 Tbsp

Cashew butter – 1 Tbsp

Peanut butter – 1 Tbsp

Soy nut butter- 1 Tbsp

One serving of nuts is a fat source and has zero carbohydrates, 5 grams of total fat, and 45 calories.

Almonds – 6 nuts

Brazil – 2 nuts

Cashews – 6 nuts

Filberts (hazelnuts) – 5 nuts

Macadamia – 3 nuts

Mixed (50% peanuts) – 6 nuts

Peanuts – 10 nuts

Pecans – 4 halves

Pistachios – 16 nuts


This week’s question is: I have type 2 diabetes.  I am wondering if I could have fruit smoothies?  If I can, which ingredients I should include and avoid?

Fruit smoothies are great treat to have and people with diabetes do not have to deprive themselves of this treat.  What matters most is that you are not consuming an excess amount of the fruit smoothie because it can be high in carbohydrates.

Even though all foods raise your blood glucose levels, it is the foods that are rich in carbohydrates that can make those levels skyrocket.

According to the American Dietetic Association and the American Diabetes Association’s Choose Your Foods: Exchange Lists for Diabetes, a serving size of a smoothie has:

10 oz  Smoothies, flavored, regular (made with milk) =  1 milk exchange + 2 1/2 carbohydrate exchanges

1 milk exchange has 12 grams of carbohydrates = 1 serving size of milk, which is 1 cup of milk

The 2  1/2 carbohydrate exchanges means there are 37.5 extra grams of carbohydrates in this smoothie because one serving of a fruit item has 15 grams of carbohydrate (or 1 carbohydrate exchange).

That 10 oz smoothie has 49.5 grams of carbohydrates in total because it contained 1 cup of milk and  2 1/2 servings of fruit

If you are making your own smoothie, this gives you an idea of where you stand in terms of carbohydrate consumption for that meal.  If you are going to eat anything else with your fruit smoothie, something that is a meat product would be best because meat products contain zero carbohydrates. (Note: Plant-based proteins (beans, peas, soy nut, soy-based meat) are considered a meat product, but the grams of carbohydrates varies.

If you are buying a smoothie from a smoothie shop or restaurant, it would be a good idea to consult the nutritional facts for that establishment.  Most nutritional facts can be found on the company’s website or ask the sales associate.   I suggest that  you order the smallest size of the smoothie that is offered, but then again a small might be more than 10 oz and the carbohydrates depends on the type of smoothie (dairy mixed with fruit vs. all fruit).   If you are having a smoothie that is all fruit, then you might want drink less than a 10 oz cup.  Those are the little things you have to look out for and make adjustments.

If you are buying a smoothie that isn’t milk based, then just remember that 1 serving of fruit = 15 grams of carbohydrates.  I will list some examples of one serving size of fruit at the bottom of this page.

If the smoothie has a yogurt based, then:

2/3 cup (6 oz) of fat-free, low-fat, or reduced fat plain or flavored yogurt = 1 serving size of milk = 12 grams of  carbohydrates

1 cup (8 oz) of plain whole yogurt = 1 serving of milk = 12 grams of carbohydrates

If soy milk is the base then:

1 cup of light or regular soy milk = 1 carbohydrate = 12 grams of carbohydrates

Here are some examples of a 1 serving size of fruit:

1  (4 oz ) apple, unpeeled, small or 4 rings of apples = 15 grams of carbohydrates

1/2 cup of applesauce = 15 grams of carbohydrates

4 whole ( 5 1/2 oz) fresh apricots = 15 grams of carbohydrates

1 (4 oz)  extra small banana = 15 grams of carbohydrates

3/4 cup of blackberries or blueberries = 15 grams of carbohydrates

1 cup cubed cantaloupe = 15 grams of carbohydrates

17 small grapes = 15 grams of carbohydrates

1/2 cup mango = 15 grams of carbohydrates

1  (6 1/2 oz) small orange = 15 grams of carbohydrates

1 cup cubed papaya = 15 grams of carbohydrates

1 ( 6 oz ) medium peach = 15 grams of carbohydrates

3/4 cup  fresh or 1/2 cup canned pineapple = 15 grams of carbohydrates

1  1/4 cup whole strawberries = 15 grams of carbohydrates

1 1/4 cups cubes of watermelon = 15 grams of carbohydrates

1/2 cup of apple juice, orange juice, pineapple juice = 15 grams of carbohydrates

January 2011
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About Me

Iris M. Pacheco, MS, RD, LD/N

This was a blog I wrote during 2010-2011 while I was a dietetics and nutrition student.

Through this blog I volunteered to answer questions from people with diabetes that were submitted to is a website that helps people with diabetes make better food choices. It holds of large databases of food items and gives recommendations on which foods to have "More Often," "In Moderation," or "Less Often."

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