June 8, 2023

7 Healthy Food for Diabetic Patients in Nigeria + Recipes

Article fact-checked and approved by Dr. Didi Emokpare
Content provided in partnership with Radiant Health Magazine

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The ideal diet for diabetic patients in Nigeria includes a balanced diet that focuses on low-glycemic foods. These include whole grains like brown rice, oats, wheat bread and lean proteins like fish and poultry. Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially non-starchy ones like spinach, cabbage, and cucumber, are also beneficial. Processed foods, sugary drinks, and high-fat meals should be avoided.  

As a diabetic patient, it’s challenging to plan a one-week meal without giving it a second thought, especially in Nigeria. Most of our local dishes contain lots of sugar or starch, which is unsuitable for this health condition, making meal recommendations complex, if not confusing.  

Diabetes (or diabetes mellitus) is a health condition where the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood glucose. The World Health Organization (WHO) says diabetic individuals grew to 422 million in 2014, and the number has been increasing year after year.  

In Nigeria, the prevention and management of diabetes have become a reality thanks to the Federal Ministry of Health guidelines. However, what you eat is as important as the medication you take.  

This article will walk you through a list of recommended healthy foods you can eat as a diabetic patient in Nigeria. As a bonus, I have provided a one-week meal plan recommendation you can use as a diet table.  

7 Best Foods for Diabetic Patients in Nigeria 

 

Diabetic melanoma happens in three stages: type 1 diabetes, where the body does not produce insulin; type 2 diabetes, where the body does not create enough insulin for proper function; and gestational diabetes, which affects females during pregnancy.  

No matter the type of diabetes, patients are advised to avoid starchy foods. Instead, eat more fibre-rich foods. Here are the best recommendations:  

1. Water Yam 

 

Despite its smaller size than the regular Nigerian yam, water yam is a nutrient powerhouse. It contains essential nutrients such as potassium, iron, calcium, vitamins C and E, carbohydrates, and dietary fibre. 

The numerous advantages of water yam make it an ideal choice for managing diabetes. Its consumption helps regulate blood sugar levels, making it a suitable option for diabetic patients. Additionally, water yam aids in lowering blood pressure, enhancing digestion, improving eyesight, promoting bone health, and boosting the immune system. 

You can cook and serve it with healthy stews or sauces, combined with palm oil, or grilled. These cooking methods ensure that the nutritional benefits of water yam are preserved while providing a delicious and suitable option for diabetic individuals. 

Ingredients: 

1 pound water yam, peeled and grated 

1 medium onion, chopped 

1 scotch bonnet pepper, chopped 

1 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 

Vegetable oil for frying 

Instructions: 

Step1: In a large bowl, combine the water yam, onion, scotch bonnet pepper, salt, and black pepper. Mix well. 

Step2: Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. 

Step 3: Drop the water yam mixture into the hot oil by spoonfuls. 

Step 4: Fry the water yam balls for about 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through. 

Step 5: Remove the water yam balls from the oil and drain on paper towels. 

Step 6: Serve hot with your favorite sauce or stew. 

Tips:

For a spicier dish, add more scotch bonnet pepper. 

You can also add other vegetables to the water yam mixture, such as carrots, green beans, or bell peppers. 

If you don't have vegetable oil, you can use peanut oil or corn oil. 

Be careful not to overcrowd the pan when frying the water yam balls, or they will not cook evenly. 

Serve the water yam balls immediately for the best flavor.  

2. Ofada Rice  

Unlike white rice, which is already a staple in many Nigerian households, ofada retains its natural nutrients, including vitamins, fibre, and minerals like zinc and phosphorus.  

The high fibre content helps regulate blood sugar levels and improve digestion. Ofada rice also promotes bone health, lowers cholesterol, prevents constipation, and manages the risk of breast cancer. 

You can boil the rice and serve it with ofada or ayamase sauce, vegetables, soup, or healthy stews.  

Its versatility allows diabetic patients to enjoy a nutritious meal while managing their blood sugar levels effectively. 

Here is a recipe for ofada rice and sauce:

Ofada Rice Ingredients:

  • 500g Ofada rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup palm oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 scotch bonnet peppers, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound beef, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup crayfish
  • 1/2 cup locust beans (iru)

Ofada Rice Instructions:

  1. Wash the Ofada rice thoroughly and drain.
  2. In a large pot, combine the water and rice and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through.
  4. While the rice is cooking, heat the palm oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  5. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the scotch bonnet peppers, salt, and black pepper and cook for 1 minute more.
  7. Add the beef and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the crayfish, locust beans, and enough water to cover the meat.
  9. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender.
  10. Serve the Ofada rice with the sauce.

Tips:

  • For a richer flavor, you can add a few tablespoons of palm wine to the sauce.
  • If you don't have palm wine, you can use any type of wine or beer.
  • You can also add other vegetables to the sauce, such as carrots, green beans, or bell peppers.
  • Serve the Ofada rice and sauce with your favorite side dishes, such as salad, plantains, or beans.

3. Unripe plantains 

 

The combination of dietary fibre, low carb content, essential nutrients, and culinary versatility makes unripe plantains an excellent choice for diabetic patients in Nigeria, aiding blood sugar control and promoting overall well-being. 

Unripe plantains are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C, which benefit overall health and can contribute to better diabetes management.  

This 2015 study revealed that the antioxidants in unripe plantains help combat oxidative stress and inflammation, which are common complications of diabetes. 

Here is a recipe for unripe plantain chips that is perfect for diabetics:

Plantain chips Ingredients:

  • 2 unripe plantains, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Plaintain Chips Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the plantain slices, salt, and black pepper. Toss to coat.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Fry the plantain slices in batches for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy.
  4. Remove the plantain chips from the oil and drain on paper towels.
  5. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Tips:

  • For a healthier option, you can air fry the plantain chips. Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees F and cook the plantain chips for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.
  • You can also add other spices to the plantain slices, such as garlic powder, onion powder, or cayenne pepper.
  • Serve the plantain chips with your favorite dip, such as guacamole, salsa, or hummus.

Unripe plantains are a good source of fiber, which can help regulate blood sugar levels. They are also low in calories and fat. This makes them a healthy choice for people with diabetes.

4. Beans 

 

Beans are rich in protein, fibre, and essential minerals, making them a nutritious option for individuals with diabetes. It has a low glycemic index (GI), which means it does not cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels.  

In 2020, researchers discovered that this property is particularly beneficial for diabetic patients as it helps maintain stable blood sugar levels. 

Fortunately, beans can be prepared in various ways to suit patient preferences. It can be cooked plainly and served with vegetables, transformed into a delicious pottage with unripe plantains, mashed into a nutritious dish, or even cooked as moimoi.

Here is a recipe for Ewa Agoyin, a Nigerian diabetic recipe for beans:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cup Beans
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions:

  1. Drain the black-eyed peas and rinse them well.
  2. In a large pot, combine the black-eyed peas, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Add the vegetable oil and water.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, or until the beans are tender.
  5. Mash the beans with a fork until they are smooth.
  6. Serve hot with your favorite side dishes, such as rice, plantains, or bread.

Tips:

  • For a thicker stew, you can mash some of the beans with a fork before serving.
  • You can also add other vegetables to the stew, such as corn, carrots, or bell peppers.
  • Serve the stew with your favorite toppings, such as shredded cheese, sour cream, or avocado.

Ewa Agoyin is a popular Nigerian dish made with black-eyed peas. This recipe is perfect for diabetics because it is low in calories and fat and is a good source of fiber.

5. Oats 

Oats contain beta-glucan, a specific type of fibre known for its heart-healthy benefits. Including oats in your diet can also support your cardiovascular health, which is particularly important considering the increased risk of heart disease associated with diabetes. 

The cereal grain contains soluble fibre, which plays a crucial role in managing blood sugar levels. The soluble fibre in oats slows digestion, preventing rapid spikes in blood glucose levels after meals.  

Some researchers studied the effects of 3 g of soluble fibre from oats on lipid levels in 2017, and the results showed there was a reduction of 3.1% in total cholesterol levels in the control group as against an 8.1% reduction in the intervention group. 

So this element in oats helps diabetic patients maintain more stable blood sugar levels throughout the day. 

Sure, here is a recipe for oat porridge, a Nigerian diabetic recipe for oats:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fruit (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the oats, water, milk, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the oats are cooked through.
  3. Stir in the chopped fruit, if desired.
  4. Serve hot.

Tips:

  • For a thicker porridge, you can cook the oats for a longer period of time.
  • You can also add other spices to the porridge, such as nutmeg, cloves, or cardamom.
  • Serve the porridge with your favorite toppings, such as honey, maple syrup, or yogurt.

Oat porridge is a healthy and nutritious breakfast option for diabetics. It is low in calories and fat, and it is a good source of fiber. The cinnamon and ginger in this recipe add a touch of sweetness and warmth.

 

6. Corn meal 

 

Corn meal (or Eko, Agidi) aids in proper digestion due to its high fibre content, preventing constipation and promoting a healthy gastrointestinal system. It also contributes to improved eyesight thanks to its nutrient profile. 

Also, the meal is rich in fibre, which helps regulate blood sugar levels by slowing down glucose absorption into the bloodstream. This slow and steady release of glucose prevents sudden spikes in blood sugar, making it an ideal choice for individuals with diabetes. 

You can eat it with pepper soup, vegetable soups, beans, or alone. This versatility allows diabetic patients to enjoy a balanced and satisfying meal without compromising their dietary restrictions. 

Here is a recipe for Ose Akamu, a Nigerian diabetic recipe for corn meal:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup groundnut oil (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped vegetables (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cornmeal, water, and salt.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the cornmeal is cooked through and the mixture is thick.
  3. Stir in the groundnut oil, if desired.
  4. Stir in the chopped vegetables, if desired.
  5. Serve hot.

Tips:

  • For a thicker akamu, you can cook the cornmeal for a longer period of time.
  • You can also add other spices to the akamu, such as nutmeg, cloves, or cardamom.
  • Serve the akamu with your favorite toppings, such as honey, maple syrup, or yogurt.

Akamu is a popular Nigerian dish made with cornmeal. This recipe is perfect for diabetics because it is low in calories and fat and is a good source of fiber. The groundnut oil and chopped vegetables add a touch of richness and flavor.

7. Healthy snacks and drinks  

 

As a diabetic patient, not all snacks and drinks are healthy. If you want to include snacks in your meal, Garden eggs with peanut butter 

Coconuts, Boiled groundnuts, Akara balls, Tiger nuts, and pears are ideal. 

Stick to Zobo (without sweeteners), Guinea corn (Dawa), kunu, and unsweetened yogurt for drinks. 

These drinks and snacks are not sugary or starchy. 

Nigerian Food Timetable for Diabetic Patients - One Week Meal Plan 



 

Please note that this is a recommendation, and you can consult with your healthcare professional or any registered dietitian in your area to receive personalised advice based on your specific needs and medical condition.  

Parting thoughts 

If you incorporate these foods into your diet as a diabetic patient, your body can fight high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammation, and obesity. 

But eating the right food is not enough. Remember to complement your diet with simple exercises like walking, swimming, and house chores. 

Meanwhile, as you focus on what you eat, avoid fried foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, canned foods, white rice and pasta, fruit-flavoured yogurt, honey, and fruit juice. These foods contain high sugar or starch, which is unsuitable for diabetic patients. 

FAQs 

Can a diabetic patient eat Moimoi? 

Moimoi is made from beans and can be a good source of protein and fibre. Yes, a diabetic patient in Nigeria can eat Moimoi. However, it is essential to consider portion sizes and overall dietary balance.  

Is Garri good for diabetes? 

 

Garri is made from cassava and can affect blood sugar levels due to its high carbohydrate content. Like fufu and tapioca, Garri is high-glycaemic. So, diabetic patients should consume garri in moderation and consider portion sizes to maintain stable blood sugar levels. It's safer to drink garri when you're in prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. 

Most importantly, consult a healthcare professional or nutritionist for personalised dietary recommendations. 

Can a diabetic eat fufu? 

Yes, a person with diabetes can eat fufu; however, it should be in moderation and best paired with high-quality proteins, fats, and vegetables. Fufu is a high-glycaemic that can influence blood sugar levels, so it's best to put moderation to it. 

Reference

https://lipidworld.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12944-017-0460-3

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-beta-glucan#

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7352659/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4319205/

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