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Free Foods - Diabetes Exchange Lists

Foods to Control Blood Sugar


Updated June 10, 2014

Free Foods - Diabetes Exchange Lists
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Free foods have been an important part of the diabetes exchange list system since the beginning. “Free foods” are those foods or drinks that have less than 20 calories per serving and no more than 5 grams of carbohydrate per serving. They are considered free because you may eat them up to 3 times a day in reasonable amounts without significantly raising your blood sugar. Here is a sampling of the free foods available:


  • Asparagus, cooked
  • Beans, green, cooked
  • Broccoli, cooked
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce, iceberg
  • Olives, canned ripe
  • Peppers, sweet red
  • Radishes
  • Scallions (green onions)
  • Spinach, cooked
  • Tomatoes
  • Tomato juice


  • Avocados
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries


  • Macademia nuts
  • Pecans

Eggs and Dairy

  • Butter
  • Cheese, cheddar
  • Cheese, Swiss
  • Cream cheese
  • Cottage cheese, 2% milkfat
  • Eggs
  • Half and half
  • Mayonnaise
  • Milk, 1% milkfat, added solids
  • Soy milk
  • Yogurt, plain, whole milk


  • Coffee (without cream or sugar)
  • Diet soda
  • Tea (without milk or sugar)
  • Water

Calorie Count can help you determine what constitutes a serving of each of these foods. A more complete listing of free/low carbohydrates foods is available from the American Dietetic Association.


American Dietetic Association. Exchange List for Diabetes. Accessed June 23, 2009.http://www.eatright.org/ada/files/Free_Foods.pdf

Diabetic Exchange Diet. Drugs.com. Accessed June 23, 2009.http://www.drugs.com/cg/diabetic-exchange-diet.html

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Getting Your Kids to Try New Foods
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