Is asparagus good for diabetics? Does asparagus benefit diabetics? If you have recently been diagnosed as diabetic or have elevated blood sugars (ie – prediabetes), you are more than likely questioning everything you eat, including asparagus.
Is asparagus low in carbs? Is asparagus good for diabetics to eat? Learn the answers here, plus the complete guide to asparagus and diabetes, as well as easy, diabetic asparagus recipes and delicious keto asparagus recipes.
What is Diabetes?
While I can give you intense, scientific definitions, I prefer to follow the KISS principle, ‘keep it simple, silly.’ Basically, diabetes occurs when you do not produce enough insulin OR you are not using insulin as you should. When this happens, too much sugar stays in our blood stream.
3 types of diabetes exist:
- Type 1 diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes.
When Are You Diagnosed as Diabetic?
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is diagnosed when an A1C level is above 6.5%. Prediabetes is diagnosed when the A1C is between 5.7% and 6.4%.
What about Prediabetes?
As a dietitian, I am noticing a huge increase of prediabetes (or elevated blood sugar) in my clinic. This is where our blood sugar is elevated, but not elevated ‘enough’ for the classic diabetes diagnosis.
What Causes Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 1 Causes.
Type 1 diabetes is caused when the immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas. It is believed type 1 is caused by genes and environmental factors.
Type 2 Causes.
While we can spend this entire article talking (let’s be honest, some folks love to argue) about the causes of type 2 diabetes, it typically falls into 2 categories.
- Lifestyle. Diet, Exercise, Sleep patterns, Work.
- Genes. Family history. Etc.
How Many Individuals Have Diabetes?
According to the Diabetes Research Institute, 37.3 million people (11.3% of the population) have diabetes.
What is the Common Treatment For Diabetes?
As much as I hate to say this, patients are often given a HUGE amount of medicines to help with diabetes. While that is ok for some, it often breaks my heart to see meds handed out with ZERO diet education. As a dietitian and working with 100s of patients, I can honestly tell you a change in diet CAN get you off diabetes medicine and reverse prediabetes.
Can I Reverse Diabetes and Prediabetes?
My professional opinion is that with proper diet (and no, not that moderation diet), activity, and sleep, we can DRASTICALLY reduce our blood sugars out of the diabetes and prediabetes range.
LET’S GET STARTED!
The Diabetes and Prediabetes Diet Guide
While many of us know to cut out the sugar, sweets, sodas, and white carbs (and even some wheat carbs), I focus my diabetes and prediabetes plan on the following:
- Low glycemic,
- Low carb,
- High fiber,
- Lean protein, and
- High omega-3 rich foods.
While this article focuses on asparagus and diabetes, you can continue to watch my video on the 10 best foods for prediabetes and weight loss.
But Let’s Get Down to Business.
The Amazing Asparagus
What are Asparagus?
Asparagus is a member of the lily family. Its green spears can be thin to thick. While we recognize asparagus as green, white and purple varieties are available.
Asparagus can be eaten raw (please do not eat the tough, woody end), lightly steamed (keeps a nice crunch), or fully cooked for a ‘softer’ feel. Asparagus are very popular in the springtime, however, this vegetable is now available year round.
Nutrition Facts in Asparagus.
Asparagus are an incredibly nutritious vegetable. According to the USDA Food Data Central Search Results, the following are the nutrition facts in 1 cup of raw asparagus.
- Calories 26.8
- Protein 2.9g
- Fat 0.1g
- Carbohydrates 5.2g
- Fiber 2.8g
- Sugar 2.5g
Calories in Asparagus.
What are the calories in 1 cup of raw asparagus? Is asparagus a low calorie food? As a baseline, I am using the calories in raw asparagus. 1 cup of raw asparagus contains only 27 calories making the asparagus a low calorie food.
Protein in Asparagus.
How much protein is in asparagus? As a baseline, we are going to look at the protein in 1 cup of raw asparagus. 1 cup of raw asparagus contains 2.9 grams of protein.
Fiber in Asparagus.
What is the fiber in asparagus? Why do we care about fiber? Is fiber important for diabetics? Remember I shared earlier in the article how part of my diabetes and prediabetes plan is to encourage high fiber foods? Fiber helps to slow down the absorption of blood sugar levels.
Let’s look at the fiber in our raw asparagus. 1 cup of asparagus has 2.8 grams of fiber.
Asparagus Glycemic Index.
Is asparagus low on the glycemic index scale? What is the glycemic index of asparagus? The glycemic index (GI) of asparagus equals 15, which classifies it as a low GI food.
Why does the glycemic index matter with diabetics?
The glycemic index measures how quickly a food causes our blood sugar to rise. Foods are ranked on a scale of zero to 100. The higher the glycemic index of food means these foods are quickly digested, absorbed, and causing a fast rise in blood sugar levels. On the other hand, foods low in the glycemic index are absorbed at a lower rate.
The glycemic index (GI) rankings are as follows:
- Low GI food: Under 50
- Medium GI food: 56-69
- High GI food: 70 and higher
Is Asparagus Low In Carbs?
What is the carb count of asparagus? Using our raw asparagus as a baseline, 1 cup of raw asparagus contains 5.2 grams of carbs.
What are the Net Carbs in Asparagus?
Net carbs can be a bit of a confusing topic. Don’t let it be! The simple definition of a net carb is the amount of carbs (in a product) that the body converts to sugar.
Net carbs = Total Carbs – Dietary Fiber.
The net carbs in 1 cup of raw asparagus is 2.4 grams.
Is Asparagus Keto?
Is asparagus keto friendly? Can you include asparagus in a keto diet? Absolutely! Asparagus is a low carb vegetable, and as long as you keep an eye on your carbs, you can include asparagus in your keto plan. In addition, make sure you are preparing diabetic and keto friendly asparagus recipes. (I must admit, I’m not familiar with ‘sweet’ asparagus dishes!)
Research on Asparagus and Diabetics.
I am so excited about this! Two very promising studies show a very positive relationship in the consumption of asparagus and blood sugar reduction.
One study looked at rats with diabetes. Before you get super upset with me, I do realize we are not rats! (I’ll be honest, I have a few whiskers that I wax!) Please note, this is a great START in our research.
In one study, our subjects were rats with diabetes. Half of the rats were given asparagus extract for one month, while the other half was given glibenclamide, a drug for type 2 diabetes. And guess what? The asparagus extract was shown to help with blood sugar control!!
I have a second study for you! Yep!! Another one! A study from the British Medical Journal in 2006, found asparagus consumption was linked to an increase in the body’s ability to use glucose. Yippie!
Does Asparagus Spike Blood Sugar Levels?
Asparagus has little effect on your blood sugar levels. With the combination of being a low carb food AND a low glycemic index food, asparagus will not cause your blood sugar levels to spike.
Are Asparagus Good for Type 2 Diabetics?
Can diabetics have asparagus? Is asparagus good for diabetics to eat? YES! In addition to being a low calorie, low carb vegetable, studies show a positive relationship of the consumption of asparagus and blood sugar control.
Are Canned Asparagus Good for Diabetics?
Can you have canned asparagus if you are diabetic? Yes! Now, before you come for me and use the dirty word ‘preservatives,’ do know I always push fresh and frozen foods. HOWEVER, we may go to our local supermarket and see that the asparagus looks terrible or the store may be out of asparagus.
While I fully understand the concern of canned foods, do know that NOW most canned vegetables are preserved at the height of their freshness, so they retain more nutrients than you might expect!
Tell your ‘Momma’s Dietitian’ to take several seats! (remember, I am a dietitian!)
Serving Size of Asparagus.
What is the serving size of asparagus? I encourage all my patients to eat as many low-carb vegetables as they want, the exact serving of asparagus is 1 cup raw OR ½ cup cooked.
How to Cook Asparagus for Diabetics.
You can cook asparagus in a variety of ways, including steaming, boiling, microwaving, air-frying, stir-frying, sautéing, roasting, and braising. Pay close attention to your favorite asparagus recipes to make sure the ingredient list does not include sugar, agave nectar, and honey since these will increase the carb count in your dish.
Diabetic Asparagus Recipes.
If you are looking for my favorite diabetic asparagus recipe, check out my step-by-step video on the best asparagus recipe for diabetics.
Air Fryer Asparagus.
Can you cook asparagus in the air fryer? Can you make asparagus in a Ninja Foodi? You bet! Check out my recipe on Air Fryer Asparagus!
Keto Asparagus Recipes.
Diabetics and prediabetics CAN use low carb and keto asparagus recipes in their diet, HOWEVER, I do encourage you to use extra virgin olive oil (the BEST oil for diabetics) and don’t drown this amazing vegetable in cheese!
Asparagus for Diabetics: Shopping, Preparing, Storage.
While asparagus are found in the produce section of all our supermarkets, you can purchase canned asparagus as well as frozen asparagus.
If purchasing fresh asparagus, look for spears with undamaged tips.
If preparing fresh asparagus, ‘snap’ or cut off the ends. Prepare according to your recipe. If you decide to use frozen asparagus, you do not need to rinse them with water, just cook and go! Finally, if you are using canned asparagus, I do encourage rinsing the asparagus with water.
If purchasing fresh asparagus, store wrapped loosely in plastic in the fridge.
Asparagus Good for Diabetics? Conclusion.
Is asparagus safe for diabetics? Is asparagus good for diabetics? YES! This low calorie, low carb, low glycemic index vegetable is great for diabetics. With promising studies showing the relationship between consumption of asparagus and improved blood sugar control, add these versatile vegetables into your life. From the dinner table, to snacking on as a 3pm snack, to throwing in the air fryer, asparagus will not spike your insulin levels.