Vegetable Juice & Diabetes

Posted: April 3, 2011 by amygilman in Nutrition Q & Amy
Tags: , , ,

I am a Nutrition Editor at Foodpicker.org, a website designed to help people with diabetes.  Here is a question I recently received:

Question

I have heard I should avoid fruit juice since I have diabetes.  What about vegetable juices?  Can I have tomato juice and other vegetable juices?”

Answer

We all know that vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet.  Many Americans report not getting the recommended amount of vegetable servings per day which is about 5-8.  Vegetable juice may make it easier to reach that goal.  The question is; are there any repercussions?  Well…many vegetable juices may be high added sugar, sodium or “other” flavors which may elevate blood sugars and sodium levels (increased blood sodium levels may lead to hypertension, plus “other” flavors may not be defined and we could be taking a chance of ingesting more sugar or some other substance and not know it).  On the other hand, you may be able to find a juice that is 100% vegetable juice which may provide fiber, vitamin C, and other nutrients (depending on the type of vegetable).

A suggestion would be to aim to get most of your vegetables in their “whole”, natural state and drink the vegetable juice as a back-up plan.  A “whole” food takes longer for the body to digest, which is great for people with diabetes because the sugar content is released slowly into the bloodstream.  A vegetable juice is no longer “whole” (it’s processed) and may spike your blood sugar faster than a “whole” food item.  Also, the slower the food item digests; the more vitamins and nutrients that will enter the bloodstream; another plus for whole vegetables.

Making your own vegetable juice with a juicer might be a good option for you.  This will allow you to choose vegetables that are lower in sugar content.  A quick rule of thumb; vegetables that are grown above ground are low in sugar while those that grow below ground are high in sugar (i.e.; beets, carrots, yams to name a few).

If you do choose to buy vegetable juice, try to be aware of your serving size compared to the serving size on the nutrition facts panel.  If the serving size is 4oz (which might be about 15-20g carbohydrates), then make sure you are not chugging down tall glasses full of the juice all day long.  Monitoring your blood sugar levels after consuming vegetable juices will also help you determine if they are right for you.

Thank you for the question.

REFERENCES

  1. http://www.diabetes.org/
  2. http://www.lillydiabetes.com
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