If you’re a diabetic or live with one, it can be tough trying to figure out the best foods to eat because your priority is to control your blood sugar levels.
However, you need to eat foods that help prevent related complications and manage diabetes.
Fish is one of the best foods to add to your diet. Not only is it a great source of omega 3, protein, and vitamin D, but it’s also helpful for your eyes, bones, nerves, and skin.
Over the years though, fish has attracted some health scares like worries over the levels of mercury.
However, nutritionists note that the associated risks in fish are fewer compared to its benefits.
This guide lists the 10 best diabetes friendly fishes that will ensure you eat right, stay healthy, and manage diabetes.
Can Diabetics Eat Fish And How Much?
Fatty fish is considered one of the healthiest foods available. Among these are salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies, which are all great sources of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.
Eating fatty fish regularly lowers risks for heart attacks and other acute coronary syndromes, and reduces the likelihood of death from heart disease.
Getting enough of these fats regularly is especially critical for diabetics who are at a higher risk of getting stroke and heart disease.
Fish also provides proteins that offer diabetics some of their energy needs. Plus, the vitamin D in fish boosts diabetics who tend to have low levels of it.
According to the National Health Service, we need to eat at least two portions of fish every week, which is about 140 grams of cooked fish, and one of them being oily fish.
However, research suggests that in the case of diabetes and seafood, it’s not always about how much but about which type of fish you consume.
In fact, a study found that the risk of diabetes decreases in men who consume fish but doesn’t affect risk in women.
The challenge is that it’s not clear what these research findings may mean for diabetics, which is why it’s better to keep it twice a week.
Plus, it’s important that you consult your doctor if you’re unable to manage your blood sugar levels after consuming seafood.
Best Fish For Diabetics
We’ve reeled in our best fish types for diabetics to help you get more options to add to your diet.
Salmon comes highly recommended as one of the best fish for diabetics for many reasons. To begin with, salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy fats that could boost your brain, heart, skin, and more.
The fish can be cooked in several different options including broiling, poaching or baking, and grilling or lightly sautéing if the cut isn’t too thick.
Salmon is firm so it will hold up well when grilled, and you can use dill as a herb and fresh lemon juice on top of it.
Plus, salmon helps your cholesterol and helps reduce inflammation in blood cells. The fish is also great for managing your blood glucose levels and helps improve how your body responds to insulin.
Tilapia is low in fat but very rich in protein, which is ideal for diabetics. You can find tilapia fairly easily both as a frozen or fresh fillet and prepare it easily too by sautéing in a pan.
The fillets may be thin, but easy to cook though you need to check that they don’t overcook otherwise they’ll fall apart.
You can use a good nonstick pan and a little cooking spray or stock to prepare your tilapia fish when cooking it, serve with brown rice, steamed or roasted veggies, or a whole-wheat roll.
For diabetics, Tilapia is rich in fiber and lacks carbohydrates, which makes it ideal in terms of reducing the risk of arterial hypertension.
Plus, the nutrients in Tilapia like vitamin C and E are helpful for the body.
Tilapia also contains selenium, which is helpful in balancing and normalizing your blood glucose levels.
While it’s a great addition to your diet, you can always add other fish varieties to your diet especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Cod is a white fish just like tilapia, but it’s firmer and able to withstand bolder seasoning and grilling among other aggressive cooking methods.
The fish is a low-calorie source of protein among other important nutrients that help with several health conditions including cardiovascular health.
The fish also contains omega-3 fatty acids that thin the blood, making it good for your heart, and it’s also rich in vitamin B6 and B12 that are needed to keep low levels of homocysteine, a dangerous molecule that directly damages blood vessel walls and can increase risks of stroke and heart attacks.
When preparing cod, pay attention to cooking time depending on the size of the fillet. If it’s thin, it will cook faster, and if it’s thick, flip it over halfway through cooking so it can cook evenly.
You can also marinate it to give it time to absorb all the rich flavors, but skip any marinades that are high in sugar or salt.
Trout is another fish that’s high in omega-3 fatty acids. The fish has a unique flavor so you can take it salt-free if you have some flavorful herbs.
You can bake or broil trout with a little citrus juice and non-salt seasoning.
Shrimp is seafood that contains higher amounts of cholesterol compared to other fish or seafood.
If you’re trying to avoid high cholesterol, you can skip shrimp, but it won’t hurt your diabetes diet or heart if you have a healthy serving of shrimp once a week or fortnightly.
You can make shrimp skewers and enjoy them as a light entrée or appetizer.
Shellfish such as lobster or crab may not be easy to draw meat out of but they’re still simple and healthy to prepare and add to your diet.
Just because you’re a diabetic doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with shellfish. Try a bay leaf seasoning when preparing the cooking water for shellfish and enjoy it with cold salads, rice dishes, pasta, or soup.
Tuna is a delicious addition to your diabetic diet whether it’s frozen or fresh. You can keep canned tuna in your pantry as it’s a shelf-stable staple, but it can be pricey if you’re on a budget.
This low-calorie fish variety offers omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamin D among other necessary micronutrients.
Tuna is also a healthy choice for your heart especially if you struggle with an elevated blood cholesterol level, and you won’t have to worry about blood sugar level spikes as it contains little or no saturated fat and carbohydrates.
You can make healthy tuna sandwiches using non-fat mayonnaise and whole grain bread.
You can also use cottage cheese instead of regular or non-fat mayo to cut your fat intake and enjoy more calcium and protein.
Mix the tuna with some mustard or plain yogurt and enjoy it in your sandwich.
Sardines are another healthy choice for diabetics. The fish is flavorful and affordable with varieties including hot pepper and mustard-dill.
The fish is rich in vitamin D and calcium plus omega-3 fatty acids, making them an excellent addition to your diabetes diet and your bone health regimen.
When buying canned sardines, check for those with low salt content, and use the fish sparingly as a flavoring when preparing stews and soups because they have so much flavor.
You can grill fresh sardines for a brighter flavor and enjoy them with other dishes. The fish are also lower in mercury than other larger fish making them a heart-healthy choice for diabetics.
Herring is another excellent fish choice for diabetics as it is rich in vitamin D and loaded with DHA and EPA, which help prevent heart disease, reducing inflammation in the body, and keep your brain functioning properly.
Mackerel is a fatty fish that can help lower artery-clogging triglycerides and LDL cholesterol while raising the levels of good cholesterol or HDL.
The fish contains omega-3 fatty acids and is also rich in iron, protein, riboflavin, selenium, vitamin B12, and niacin. You can find it fresh, but in most grocery stores you’ll find the canned variety.
You can also pick the Atlantic mackerel, which is fresh and low in mercury, but check that you don’t pick the King mackerel, which is high in mercury that can impair blood-sugar control.
Diabetics can also consume fish, but there are specific varieties that help reduce inflammation, heart disease, and stroke yet still manage your blood glucose levels.
Any of these best fish for diabetics make a great addition to your diabetic diet and are good sources of lean, high-quality proteins, vitamins, and other minerals for additional health benefits.