An optimal diet for a diabetic contains a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables, beans, whole grains, lean meats, fruits and fish, according to the American Diabetes Association. It is beneficial for diabetics to avoid processed foods and choose foods high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Dietary fiber plays a role in controlling blood sugar levels and lowering heart disease risk, making it an important component of a diabetic diet, explains Mayo Clinic. Fruits, vegetables, wheat bran and nuts are examples of nutritious foods that provide high amounts of fiber. It is also important for people with diabetes to incorporate monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats into their diets in moderation, as these healthy fats can lower cholesterol levels. Foods that supply healthy fats include avocados, olives, olive oil and almonds.
Substituting whole grains for processed grains is a helpful dietary tip for diabetics, as well. Instead of using white bread, pasta or rice made with enriched-wheat flour, using whole-wheat bread and pasta, as well as brown rice, provides fiber. The whole-wheat varieties still have carbohydrates, but the bran and germ provide the necessary fiber for a healthy diet, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Because diabetes increases the risk of developing heart disease, it is helpful for diabetics to avoid foods that are heart-unhealthy, according to Mayo Clinic. Foods containing high amounts of saturated fats, such as hot dogs and bacon, should be limited. Trans fats, which are typically found in baked goods and processed snacks, are also problematic. Additionally, diabetics should strive to keep their sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams per day.