5 foods to eat or avoid to control pre-diabetes

Pre-diabetes is diagnosed when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as having type 2 diabetes.

The condition is an early alert that your diabetes risk is now very high. It is ten to 20 times greater compared to the risk for those with normal blood sugars.

What you choose to eat or avoid could influence the risk of type 2 diabetes.

In a recent post, researchers from the University of Newcastle suggest people with pre-diabetes eat or avoid 5 things.

People with pre-diabetes should eat these things

Plant-based diets

A study of about 200,000 adults in the Nurses and Health Professionals study in the US looked at plant food intake and diabetes risk over 20 years.

People who had a high intake of plant foods and low intake of animal foods had a 20% lower risk of diabetes.

But those with the highest intakes of the most healthy plant foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, vegetable oils, tea/coffee) had a 34% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even after adjusting for body weight.

Among those with high intakes of less healthy plant foods (refined grains, potatoes, sweets, fruit juice, sugar-sweetened beverages) there was a 16% higher risk of diabetes.

Vegetables and fruit

In a meta-analysis of studies that included over 179,000 people, there was a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in those who had the highest intakes of vegetables and fruit compared to the lowest.

Drilling down to specific fruit and vegetables identified that high intakes of green leafy vegetables like spinach, silverbeet, cabbage, kale, Asian greens, lettuce, rocket, broccoli, and watercress had the strongest relationship.


Coffee, whether caffeinated or decaffeinated, contains bioactive molecules that help regulate blood sugar levels.

Chlorogenic acid improves glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, while caffeic acid boosts the rate muscles use up glucose.

This helps explain why across 28 studies and over one million adults, coffee drinkers have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

For those who drank three or more cups of coffee a day, there was a 21% lower risk compared to those who never or rarely drank it. For those drinking decaffeinated coffee, there was a 6% lower risk for each cup.

People with pre-diabetes should avoid these things

Soft drinks

A review of 17 population studies from the US and UK looked at the prospective associations between drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and developing diabetes.

Over ten years, more than 38,000 people developed type 2 diabetes. After adjusting for weight status, every extra sugar-sweetened drink per day was associated with a 13% increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Food high in glycaemic index

Food with a high glycaemic index (GI) are digested more rapidly leading to a greater increase in blood sugars after eating. The GI value is out of 100 and less than 55 is considered low.

In a review of 21 studies, there was a small but significant 8% increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes for every five unit increase in GI. You can find information on the GI value of foods here.

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