If you have type 2 diabetes or are at high risk for the disease, you know that soda, candy, and doughnuts won’t exactly do you any favors. That’s because eating too many of these sugar-loaded refined carbs over time can lead to consistently elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance—which spells serious damage for your kidneys, eyes, nerves, and heart.
But avoiding long-term complications of this disease is about more than forgoing blood sugar–spiking foods, says Amy Hess Fischl, RDN, a registered dietitian and diabetes educator at the University of Chicago Diabetes Center. In addition to carb control, people with diabetes should be eating foods that lower high blood pressure and high cholesterol and reduce excess weight—some of the triggers that likely contributed to diabetes in the first place.
So, which foods can you feel good about? As a general guide, those rich in potassium, calcium, fiber, magnesium, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and E are good choices, says Fischl. Even fats can be good, as long as they’re healthy fats and portion size is in check.
Here are some of Fischl’s top picks—and what you’re better off skipping.