Foods high in protein such as fish, chicken, meats, soy products and cheese, are all called “protein foods.” You may also hear them referred to as "meats or meat substitutes.”
The biggest difference among foods in this group is how much fat they contain, and for the vegetarian proteins, whether they have carbohydrate.
Best protein choices for diabetes
Plant-based protein foods provide quality protein, healthy fats and fiber. They vary in how much fat and carbohydrate they contain, so make sure to read labels.
- Beans such as black, kidney and pinto
- Bean products like baked beans and refried beans
- Hummus and falafel
- Lentils such as brown, green or yellow
- Peas such as black-eyed or split peas
- Soy nuts
- Nuts and spreads like almond butter, cashew butter or peanut butter
- Tempeh, tofu
- Products like meatless "chicken" nuggets, "beef" crumbles, "burgers", "bacon", "sausage" and "hot dogs"
Fish and seafood
Try to include fish at least two times per week.
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like Albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, rainbow trout, sardines and salmon
- Other fish including catfish, cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, orange roughy and tilapia
- Shellfish including clams, crab, imitation shellfish, lobster, scallops, shrimp and oysters.
Choose poultry without the skin for less saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Cornish hen
Cheese and eggs
- Reduced-fat cheese or regular cheese in small amounts
- Cottage cheese
- Whole eggs
- Buffalo, ostrich, rabbit or venison
- Dove, duck, goose or pheasant (no skin)
Beef, pork, veal and lamb
It’s best to limit your intake of red meat which is often higher in saturated fat and processed meats like ham, bacon and hot dogs which are often higher in saturated fat and sodium. If you decide to have these, choose the leanest options, which are:
- Select or Choice grades of beef trimmed of fat including: chuck, rib, rump roast, round, sirloin, cubed, flank, porterhouse, T-bone steak or tenderloin
- Lamb: chop, leg or roast
- Veal: loin chop or roast
- Pork: Canadian bacon, center loin chop, ham or tenderloin