The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) classifies vegetables according to their nutrient profiles. There are five main subgroups: dark green vegetables; red and orange vegetables; starchy vegetables; beans, peas, and lentils; and other vegetables. As a whole, vegetables are an excellent food choice because they are naturally packed with essential nutrients (e.g., folate, zinc, magnesium), antioxidants, and fiber that help our bodies function properly and stay healthy. Specifically, vegetables can aid in digestion, improve absorption of vitamins and minerals, increase energy levels, lower blood pressure, prevent calcium buildup in the arteries, and control blood sugar levels (via WebMD).
Per Medical News Today, some of the best vegetables to eat for people with diabetes are green leafy vegetables (e.g., spinach, kale, bok choy), red and green bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, arugula, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts. In addition to choosing the right types of vegetables, how they are prepared is equally as important. Try to get fresh vegetables as much as possible. If you can only get the canned version, reach for the ones with no added salt or sugar. You should also avoid frying them and peeling out the skin. If possible, eat them raw or opt to boil, bake, or grill them.
It is important to note that although vegetables are clearly beneficial to our health, there are certain types that diabetics should try to avoid, mainly because they contain relatively high levels of carbohydrates. These include corn, parsnips, plantains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams (per the Diabetes Meal Plans).