Eating Tamales in Diabetes: Is it SAFE or Not?

Short Answer: Tamales are not very good for diabetes because they have high amounts of fat and sodium and low amounts of fiber.

Diabetes is a condition that affects your blood sugar levels and how your body uses glucose, a type of sugar that is the main source of energy for your cells.

Glucose comes from the food you eat and is also produced by your liver.

In diabetes, your body either does not make enough insulin, a hormone that helps glucose enter your cells, or does not respond well to insulin.

This causes glucose to build up in your blood, which can lead to various health problems, such as heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, eye damage, and infections.

One of the key factors in managing diabetes is diet.

What you consume can affect your blood sugar levels, which can impact your diabetes symptoms and overall health.

To effectively manage diabetes, you should consume fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and avoid refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, rice, and sweets.

Fiber helps slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, which can prevent spikes and drops in blood sugar levels.

Now, tamales are a traditional dish made of corn dough stuffed with meat, cheese, or other fillings, and wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf.

People usually eat them as a main course or a snack.

Tamales are not very good for diabetes because they contain high amounts of fat and sodium, and low amounts of fiber.

Depending on the recipe and the size, one tamale can have around 200–300 calories, 10–20 grams of fat, 15–30 grams of carbs, and 300–600 mg of sodium.

Fat can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, which are already higher if you have diabetes.

Sodium can raise your blood pressure and damage your kidneys.

Carbs can raise your blood sugar levels if you eat too many or do not balance them with insulin or other medications.

Corn dough is the main ingredient of tamales, and it is a type of starch that can quickly raise your blood sugar levels.

Corn dough can also contain lard or other fats that add more calories and saturated fat to the dish.

Meat fillings can provide protein, iron, and zinc, but they can also be high in saturated fat and cholesterol if they are not lean or trimmed.

Meat fillings can also be cooked with sauces or spices that add more sodium and sugar to the dish.

Cheese fillings can provide calcium and protein, but they can also be high in saturated fat and sodium if they are not low-fat or reduced-sodium varieties.

Cheese fillings can also add more calories to the dish.

Other fillings may include vegetables, herbs, rice, beans, or fruits. These can provide some fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can benefit your health.

However, they can also add more carbs, sodium, or sugar to the dish if they are not fresh or prepared with healthy ingredients.

Furthermore, tamales are a type of processed food that is usually made with refined flour and added fats.

Processed foods are bad for diabetes because they tend to have less nutrients and more calories than whole foods.

They can also contain preservatives, additives, or artificial flavors that can harm your health.

That’s why I suggest you limit your tamale intake to avoid raising your blood sugar levels too high or too often.

Stick to one small tamale per meal or snack, and balance it with non-starchy vegetables or salad.

Choose lean meat fillings or vegetarian options over cheese fillings.

Avoid sauces or toppings that are high in sodium or sugar.

Check the nutrition labels and ingredients lists before buying or eating tamales.

Also, you shouldn’t eat tamales if you have high blood pressure or kidney disease to prevent worsening these conditions. Because tamales are high in sodium and phosphorus, which can increase your blood pressure and damage your kidneys.

You can buy fresh tamales in your local market or order them from online.

Always choose tamales that are made with whole grain corn dough and low-fat or low-sodium ingredients. Because these will have more fiber and less calories than regular tamales.

You can store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Finally, remember that maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management and essential medical care is key to managing diabetes effectively.

I always recommend my diabetes patients to follow a diabetes-friendly diet that is low in carbs, fat, sodium, and sugar but high in fiber, protein, vitamins,
and minerals to improve their overall well-being and enjoy a longer and healthier life.

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