Nutrition Articles

''Free'' Foods for Diabetes

A List of Foods That Don't Impact Blood Sugar

Food or Beverage Serving Size
Barbecue sauce 2 tsp
Cabbage, raw 1/2 cup
Candy, hard (regular or sugar-free) 1 piece
Carrots, cooked 1/4 cup
Catsup 1 Tbsp
Cauliflower, cooked 1/4 cup
Cranberries, fresh (unsweetened) 1/2 cup
Cream cheese, fat-free 1 Tbsp
Creamer, non-dairy liquid 1 Tbsp
Creamer, non-dairy powder 2 Tbsp
Cucumber, sliced 1/2 cup
Green beans, cooked 1/4 cup
Honey mustard 1 Tbsp
Jam or jelly (no sugar added) 2 tsp
Margarine, fat-free 1 Tbsp
Margarine, reduced fat 1 tsp
Mayonnaise, fat-free 1 Tbsp
Mayonnaise, reduced fat 1 tsp
Miso 1 1/2 tsp
Parmesan cheese 1 Tbsp
Pickle relish 1 Tbsp
Pickles, dill 1 1/2 medium
Pickles (sweet, bread and butter) 2 slices
Pickles (sweet, gherkin) 0.75 oz
Rhubarb (fresh, unsweetened, or with sugar rub) 1/2 cup
Salad dressing, fat-free or low-fat 1 Tbsp
Salad dressing, fat-free Italian 2 Tbsp
Salsa 1/4 cup
Sour cream, fat-free or reduced fat 1 Tbsp
Soy sauce, light or regular 1 Tbsp
Sweet and sour sauce 2 tsp
Sweet chili sauce 2 tsp
Syrup (sugar free) 2 Tbsp
Taco sauce 1 Tbsp
Whipped topping, fat-free or light 2 Tbsp
Whipped topping, regular 1 Tbsp

Category #2: The following foods are so low in carbohydrates and calories that people with diabetes can eat them in moderate amounts, as often as desired throughout the day. Once again, these foods are not included in this list because they offer superior nutrition or health attributes. This is simply a list of foods that are so low in calories and carbohydrates that they do not impact the blood sugar levels of people with diabetes.

  • Bouillon or broth (regular or low sodium)
  • Club soda
  • Cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • Coffee (unsweetened or with artificial sweetener)
  • Diet soda
  • Diet tonic water
  • Sugar-free drink mixes (such as sugar free Kool-Aid or Crystal Light)
  • Flavored water (carbohydrate free)
  • Flavoring extracts (i.e. vanilla, almond, etc.)
  • Garlic
  • Gelatin (sugar free)
  • Herbs, fresh or dried
  • Horseradish
  • Hot pepper sauce
  • Lemon juice
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Pimento
  • Salad greens
  • Spices
  • Sugar substitutes
  • Tea (unsweetened or with artificial sweetener)
  • Vinegar
  • Water (including carbonated or mineral)
  • Worcestershire sauce

This article has been reviewed and approved by Becky Hand, Licensed and Registered Dietitian.

For more specific information or help, talk to your health care provider. The American Diabetes Association's National Call Center also offers live advice from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday at 1-800-DIABETES or 1-800-342-2383.

American Diabetes Association, Choose Your Foods: Exchange Lists for Diabetes. (Chicago: American Dietetic Association, 2008).

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About The Author

Amy L. Poetker Amy L. Poetker
Amy Poetker is a licensed and registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with a master's degree in dietetics. Amy, who has spent most of her career working in diabetes education, is dedicated to the treatment of that disease and the prevention of related complications. See all of Amy's articles.

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