Angel food cake can be a good option for diabetics in moderation due to its low sugar and carb content. However, it’s still a sweet treat that should be limited. Focus on getting fiber from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts instead.
What is Angel Food Cake?
Angel food cake is a type of sponge cake that gets its light, airy texture from whipped egg whites. Traditionally, angel food cake contains:
- Egg whites
- Cake flour or all-purpose flour
- Cream of tartar
- Vanilla extract
- Almond extract
Unlike other cakes, it contains no egg yolks or butter. The lack of fat is what makes it lower in calories and carbs than many cake varieties.
Angel Food Cake Nutrition Facts
The nutrition facts for a 1-ounce (28g) slice of angel food cake are:
- Calories: 55
- Carbs: 14g
- Fiber: 0g
- Sugar: 11g
- Protein: 2g
- Fat: 0g
So a slice of angel food cake contains just 55 calories and 14 grams of carbs, most of which comes from sugar.
It’s higher in carbs and sugar compared to berries, non-starchy veggies, and high protein foods. But it’s lower in carbs and calories than many other cake varieties.
For example, here’s how it compares to 1 ounce of chocolate cake and carrot cake:
|Angel food cake||55||14g||11g|
Is Angel Food Cake Keto?
Angel food cake is not keto-friendly.
The keto diet aims to get 70-80% of calories from fat and restrict carbs to 20-50 grams per day. Since a 1-ounce serving of angel food cake provides 14 grams of carbs without any fat, it does not fit keto macros.
Sticking to small portions of angel food cake is best for those on the keto diet. Better keto dessert options include:
- Keto ice cream made with heavy cream
- Dark chocolate
- Berries with whipped cream
- Cheesecake made with sugar substitutes
Is Angel Food Cake Paleo?
Angel food cake is not paleo-approved either.
The paleo diet avoids processed foods, sugar, and grains. While angel food cake is free of added fat and cholesterol, it still contains processed, refined ingredients.
For example, cake flour is finely milled and stripped of bran and germ, which removes fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Granulated white sugar is also highly refined and provides empty calories without nutrition.
Some modified paleo angel food cake recipes use almond flour, coconut flour, or tapioca flour. They may also use honey or maple syrup instead of white sugar.
But in general, angel food cake made with highly processed modern ingredients would not be paleo diet compliant.
Is Angel Food Cake Good for Diabetics?
Angel food cake can be suitable for diabetics in small servings, but it’s best limited as an occasional treat. Here are some tips for diabetics wanting to eat angel food cake:
- Stick to a 1-2 ounce portion
- Count it as 15 grams of carbs
- Aim to have less than 45-60 grams of carbs per meal
- Pair it with protein and healthy fats to balance blood sugar
- Avoid eating it on an empty stomach or by itself as a snack
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) does not forbid sweets. They recommend allotting 5-10% of daily calories to treats and desserts like cakes, cookies, ice cream, etc. Just be mindful of portions.
Benefits of angel food cake for diabetics include:
- Low in fat and cholesterol
- Lower in carbs and calories than many cakes
- Can satisfy a sweet craving
Potential drawbacks of angel food cake for diabetics include:
- High glycemic index can spike blood sugar
- Lacks protein, fiber, and nutrients
- Contains lots of added sugar
- Too much can displace healthier foods
Healthier Cake Alternatives for Diabetics
Here are some ways to make cake healthier for diabetics:
- Choose angel food cake over chocolate, yellow, or butter-based cakes
- Enjoy cake for breakfast paired with eggs, nuts, yogurt for better blood sugar control
- Substitute applesauce, mashed banana, or pumpkin puree for half the oil or butter
- Use a sugar substitute like stevia, erythritol, or monk fruit
- Replace some all-purpose flour with almond flour, coconut flour, oat flour, etc
- Top with fresh fruit like strawberries or blueberries instead of frosting
Diabetic-friendly cakes and muffins are also available to purchase online or in stores. Read nutrition labels and look for lower carb, higher fiber options made with whole grains and less added sugar.
Should Diabetics Avoid All Sweets and Desserts?
The ADA does not recommend completely avoiding all sweets and desserts. A rigid restriction can backfire and lead to feelings of deprivation, then overeating.
Moderation and portion control are key. The recommended daily carb intake for diabetics is:
- Women: 45-60 grams per meal
- Men: 60-75 grams per meal
Focus on getting fiber from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes at meals and snacks. If blood sugar levels are well controlled, having a small treat is unlikely to cause harm.
Work with a registered dietitian to determine a personalized carb allowance at meals and for snacks. Sweets can then be incorporated into this meal plan in moderation.
Incorporating Angel Food Cake Into a Healthy Diabetes Diet
Here are some ways diabetics can enjoy angel food cake in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet:
- Stick to a 1-2 ounce portion
- Pair it with protein, fat, and fiber like nuts or berries
- Eat it after a meal, not on an empty stomach
- Limit to special occasions or once weekly at most
- Pre-portion cake slices to avoid overeating
- Be mindful of carb counts in other meals and snacks
- Do not eat cake if blood sugar is very high
- Do not substitute cake for meals or snacks
Focus on getting fiber from produce, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Monitor carbohydrate intake at other meals when planning to indulge in cake. Keep an eye on blood sugar levels to assess how well it is tolerated.
Other Tips for Diabetes Management
Managing diabetes involves more than just watching carbs. Here are some other tips:
Lose excess weight if overweight
Carrying extra weight worsens diabetes. Losing 5-10% of body weight can improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.
Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate activity like brisk walking. Strength training twice a week is also encouraged. Exercise helps lower blood sugar and A1c levels.
Take medication and insulin as prescribed
Medications help manage diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels in different ways. Insulin may be needed to achieve optimal blood sugar control.
Monitor blood sugar levels
Check blood glucose levels regularly to assess if diet, medication, exercise, and lifestyle changes are working. Keep records to review with your healthcare provider.
Get regular medical care
See your doctor for routine diabetes checkups for eye, foot, blood pressure, kidney, and other exams. Have A1c tested every 3-6 months.
Quit smoking and limit alcohol
Smoking raises risk for diabetes complications. Heavy alcohol use also causes blood sugar to drop erratically.
Manage stress levels
Chronic stress and anxiety raise cortisol, which can raise blood sugar. Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing may help.
Get enough sleep
Not getting 7-9 hours per night can negatively impact blood sugar levels and appetite regulation.
The Bottom Line
Angel food cake can be incorporated into a diabetic diet in small portions as an occasional treat. Focus on getting fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from produce, whole grains, nuts, beans, etc. Pair cake with protein and healthy fats, and monitor carb counts at other meals.
While angel food cake won’t spike blood sugar as severely as other desserts, it provides minimal nutrition. Use portion control and eat it in moderation to prevent it from displacing healthier foods. Check with your healthcare provider about an appropriate carbohydrate allowance.