Nutritional recommendations for diabetes


Nutritional recommendations for diabetes

In 2016, approximately 422 million people have had diabetes with this number increasing every year.

The first line of defense to prevent and treat diabetes is diet and exercise.

American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetic patients participate in a health-care intervention program for as part of their treatment, but stresses that there is not a single model of nutrition for everyone; on the contrary, every nutritional treatment must be individualized according to its therapeutic goals and the preferences of each patient.

The newer dietary recommendations of the American Diabetes Association suggest the:

  • Consumption of carbohydrates mainly from vegetables, whole grains, fruits, pulses and dairy products, contrary to other sources that contain additional fats, sugars or salt.
  • Limitation or avoidance of the consumption of high-fructose, corn syrup and sucrose beverages to reduce the risk of weight gain and worsening of the cardiovascular risk profile.
  • Reduction of Na consumption to less than 2300mg / day with additional personalized reductions in those with high blood pressure.
  • The use of ω-3 (EPA/DHA) supplements to prevent or treat cardiovascular risk is not considered to benefit diabetics. However, recommendations for eating fatty fish at least twice a week are also appropriate both for the general public and for people with diabetes.
  • There is not yet clear scientific evidence on the benefits of vitamin or mineral supplements for people with diabetes who have no vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Nor are there any evidence to support the use of cinnamon or other spices or supplements for the treatment of diabetes.


According to the Greek Diabetes Association what is recommended is the:

  • Loss of at least 5% of body weight in overweight and obese, since a weight loss of 5-10% of body weight and the maintenance of this new weight is considered to have beneficial effects on the health of the diabetic patient.
  • Reduction of fat to <30% of daily calories.
  • Reduction of saturated fat to <10% of daily intake.
  • Daily consumption of at least 25-35g of fiber, which can be covered by daily consumption of vegetables in every meal, at least 3 fruits per day and 4 servings of pulses per week.
  • Consumption of grains whole and high in fiber content.
  • Consumption of fatty fish 2-3 times/week.
  • The total amount of simple sugars should not exceed 50g / day.
  • The total intake of simple sugars should not exceed 10% of the daily caloric intake.
  • Moderate or intense aerobic exercise of at least 30minutes a day (continuously or intermittently in 10-minute or 15-minute periods), at least 5 times a week.
  • A low glycemic index diet is considered beneficial as it increases HDL while reducing insulin resistance.
  • There is no evidence to justify recommendations for a very low carbohydrate diet for people with diabetes.



American Diabetes Association, 2. (2013, October 9). American Diabetes Association Releases New Nutritional Guidelines. Alexandria, Virginia.
Hellenic Association for the Study and Education of Diabetes Mellitus. (2017). Prevention of diabetes mellitus. Hellenic Diabetological Chronicle, 30(1).
WHO. (2016, April). 10 Facts About Obesity.
Hellenic Diabetologic Association. (2013). Guidance for diabetic patient’s management.