Fish can be a highly beneficial diet component for individuals with diabetes, offering high-quality protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients. Due to their favorable and low glycemic index and rich omega-3 fatty acid content, certain fish can aid in managing blood glucose levels and supporting heart health, which is vital for people with diabetes. 

However, it’s essential to choose suitable types of fish and seafood and healthily prepare them to maximize their benefits. This guide explores the best fish choices for people with diabetes, which seafood to consume in moderation, and tips for incorporating fish into a diabetic-friendly diet.

Benefits of Fish for Diabetics

Below are the benefits of fish for diabetic patients. Incorporating fish into the diet can offer numerous advantages, and these combined benefits make fish an excellent dietary choice for managing diabetes.

  1. High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Many fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which benefit heart health. People dealing with diabetes are susceptible to cardiovascular diseases, so incorporating omega-3-rich fish can be advantageous.
  2. Low in Saturated Fat: Fish generally have lower saturated fat levels than red meat, making them a healthier protein choice.
  3. Rich in Protein: Fish provides a high-quality protein source that helps maintain muscle mass and repair tissues.
  4. Low Glycemic Index: Fish and seafood have a low glycemic index, which means they do not cause significant spikes in blood glucose levels.

Best Fish for Diabetics and Seafood to Be Cautious About

Here’s a table with the benefits and considerations for each type of fish and seafood for people with diabetes:

TunaHigh in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, supports heart healthConsume in moderation due to potential mercury content. Choose canned light tuna for lower mercury levels.
SalmonRich in omega-3 fatty acids, anti-inflammatory, high in vitamin D and proteinNo significant concerns; an excellent choice for diabetics.
Fried FishNoneNot recommended due to added calories, unhealthy fats, and carbohydrates, which can spike blood sugar levels.
SardinesPacked with omega-3 fatty acids, protein, calcium, lower in mercuryNo significant concerns; highly beneficial for diabetics.
MackerelHigh in omega-3 fatty acids, beneficial for heart health and inflammationModerate consumption due to higher mercury content in some types.
TroutHigh in omega-3 fatty acids, good source of vitamin B12 and proteinNo significant concerns; an excellent choice for diabetics.
HerringRich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin DNo significant concerns; highly beneficial for diabetics.
Shellfish (Shrimp, Crab, Lobster)High in protein, low in fatConsume in moderation due to higher cholesterol content.
High-Mercury Fish (King Mackerel, Shark, Swordfish, Tilefish)NoneLimit consumption due to high mercury content.
Best Fish for Diabetics

Tips for Including Fish in a Diabetic Diet

Here are some tips to make the most of fish while keeping your meals diabetes-friendly:

  • Grill, Bake, or Broil: Choose cooking methods that do not add unnecessary fats or carbohydrates.
  • Avoid Heavy Sauces: Sauces can add sugar and unhealthy fats. Opt for herbs, spices, and lemon juice for flavor.
  • Check Portions: Stick to recommended serving sizes to avoid overeating, which can impact blood sugar control.
  • Pair with Non-Starchy Vegetables: Balance your meal with plenty of non-starchy vegetables to keep the meal low in carbohydrates.


Incorporating fish into your diet supports heart health, particularly for people with diabetes who are at higher risk for cardiovascular diseases. Fish packed with omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are especially beneficial. Opt for healthy cooking methods to retain nutritional benefits without adding unhealthy fats and calories. 

Be mindful of mercury levels by choosing fish with lower mercury content, such as canned light tuna and smaller fish like sardines. Balance your plate by pairing fish with non-starchy vegetables to create a well-rounded, low-carb meal that effectively helps manage blood sugar levels. While fish is beneficial, consume it in moderation, especially in varieties with higher mercury levels, to ensure a balanced and safe diet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Tuna Fish Good for Diabetics? 

Tuna is a good option for people with diabetes because of its high protein content and omega-3 fatty acids, which support heart health. However, consuming tuna in moderation is essential because of its potential mercury content. Opt for canned light tuna, which typically has lower mercury levels than albacore (white) tuna.

Is Salmon Good for Diabetics? 

Salmon is an excellent choice for people with diabetes. It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, contains anti-inflammatory properties, and supports heart health. In addition, salmon provides ample vitamin D and high-quality protein, making it a nutritious addition to a diabetic diet.

Can Diabetics Eat Fried Fish

Fried fish is not recommended for people with diabetes. The breading and frying add unnecessary calories, unhealthy fats, and carbohydrates, which can spike blood sugar levels. Instead, people with diabetes should choose healthier cooking methods such as grilling, baking, or broiling to maintain the nutritional benefits of the fish without the added drawbacks of frying.

Are Sardines Good for Diabetics? 

Sardines are an excellent choice for people with diabetes. They are filled with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and protein and have a lower mercury content than larger fish. Sardines also provide vitamin D and benefit heart health, making them a great addition to a diabetic-friendly diet.