Your Diabetes-Friendly Pantry (Continued)


Canned tomatoes and tomato paste are pantry staples. Choose brands with no salt or sugar added.


Reduced-salt broths are great for making a quick soup. Add a can of beans, a cup or two of frozen veggies, some chicken, and you've got a hearty meal that doesn't cost much.

Canned Fish

Canned fish is easy and would fit into any budget. It's also a great source of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Choose brands that are packed in water. Varieties to have in your pantry include:

  • tuna
  • salmon
  • mackerel
  • sardines


Canned veggies are handy, but have less nutrients and flavor than frozen veggies. They almost always have added salt. Still, in a pinch (or when the power goes out), canned veggies can be useful. Choose salt-free brands if you can. If you can't find salt free, rinse them in cold running water to remove some of the added salt. Don't forget to keep a hand held can opener in your utensil draw in case of a power outage.

If your pantry is cool, dry, and dark, you can store certain veggies in it. Below are some that last. (They also have plenty of disease-fighting compounds.)

  • garlic
  • onions, shallots
  • ginger
  • winter squashes such as: acorn, butternut, Hubbard, spaghetti


You should only keep no-sugar-added canned fruit in your pantry. Look for unsweetened applesauce, pineapple, or madarin orange segments. Even without added sugar, these aren't low carb foods. Make sure to read labels and count the carbs. Skip the dried fruits, such as raisins and dates. These sugary bits are sure to spike your blood sugar.


In your pantry, replace sugary soft drinks and fruit juices with flavored no-calorie seltzer water and artificially sweetened drinks that don't have an impact on your blood sugar.

Also include tea — green or black, caffeinated or decaf — in your pantry. Tea is full of natural chemicals that may reduce inflammation, lower your blood sugar, and help protect against diabetes. The type of tea and whether it has caffeine or not doesn't really seem to matter.

Artificial Sweeteners

Sometimes you will need table sugar for a recipe, but you should also have a sugar substitute in your pantry for when the need arises. You can use any of the common artifical sweeteners that don't impact your blood sugar, such as:

  • saccharin (Sweet'N Low)
  • sucralose (Splenda)
  • aspartame (Equal)
  • Truvia
  • Stevia (SweetLeaf)

For use in drinks and the like, choose whatever tastes best to you. For cooking and baking, make sure to choose one that says it's made for those uses.

Low Carb Mixes, Shakes, and Bars

Today you can find a wide range of low carb products in any grocery store. You'll find low carb cookies, baking mixes, shake mixes, and other choices. There are low carb bars you can eat as snacks or in place of meals. Be cautious when you buy this stuff and read the labels carefully. While some products are low carb, many low carb or high protein bars are really just candy in disguise. Also, the artificial sweeteners used in candy and protein bars can upset your stomach if you eat too much.

Sheila Buff is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, and diabetes. She is the coauthor, with Dr. Alan Pressman, of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals (Alpha Press, 2007).

Reviewed by Susan Weiner, RD, MS, CDE, CDN. 5/12

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Last Modified Date: January 15, 2014

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.
  1. Chen, H., Z. Qu, L. Fu, P. Dong, and X. Zhang, X. 2009. Physicochemical Properties and Antioxidant Capacity of 3 Polysaccharides from Green Tea, Oolong Tea, and Black Tea. Journal of Food Science, 74: C469–C474. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01231.x
  2. Hosoda K., M.F. Wang, et al. 2003. Antihyperglycemic effect of oolong tea in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 26(6):1714-8.
  3. Venn B.J. and J.I. Mann JI. 2004. Cereal grains, legumes and diabetes. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 58:1443-1461.
  4. Villegas R., Y.T. Gao, G. Yang, H.L. Li, T.A. Elasy, W. Zheng, and X.O. Shu. 2008. Legume and soy food intake and the incidence of type 2 diabetes in the Shanghai Women's Health Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 87(1):162-7.
  5. White A.M. and C.S. Johnston. 2007. Vinegar ingestion at bedtime moderates waking glucose concentrations in adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 30(11):2814-5.

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by Brenda Bell
Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...
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