8 foods that can help control blood sugar levels!
Published 1 Feb 2021 • By Courtney Johnson
For people with conditions that affect blood sugar, such as diabetes or pre-diabetes, diet is an important tool to help keep it in check. Certain foods can help you manage your blood sugar, fight off hunger and stay feeling full longer.
Which foods can help regulate blood sugar levels? Which foods should be avoided?
We explain it all in our article!
What causes fluctuations in blood sugar?
Blood sugar, or glucose, refers to main sugar molecules found in the bloodstream. It comes from the foods we eat and is used to fuel the body with energy. The body needs a certain amount of glucose in the blood at all times for it to function properly.
When we eat, the pancreas releases insulin, a hormone that conveys glucose molecules from the blood to the body’s cells so it can be used for energy. Blood sugar naturally rises in response to the foods we eat, but it may spike if something sugary or highly processed is consumed. When this happens, the pancreas releases an appropriate amount of insulin, which sends the sugar into the cells, thus lowering the blood sugar back down. But, this rollercoaster of rising and lowering glucose can cause undesirable after effects, such as brain fog, irritability and increased cravings for sugary foods.
Preferably, we should keep blood sugar at a stable level (without pits or spikes) to maintain even energy throughout the day, but different aspects or activities come into play and have an effect on glucose levels. Factors including physical activity, stress, body weight and genetics play a role in fluctuating blood sugar.
While having too low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia) can be very dangerous for diabetes patients, too high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) can be just as dangerous or more, as it can develop slowly over a long period of time and have little-to-no symptoms until it is too late. Sustained hyperglycaemia over time can lead to complications affecting the eyes, kidneys, heart and nerves.
So, which foods can help to lower or stabilise blood sugar levels?
Although no one food is the magical key to lowering blood sugar, what can help is a balanced and healthy diet full of foods that help to maintain more stable blood sugar levels.
Here are a few delicious foods that can help stabilise your blood sugar:
Beans and lentils: Though they occasionally have a bad reputation among diabetes patients for their high carbohydrate content, beans are an excellent source of complex carbs full of protein and soluble fibre, which contribute to feeling satiated and slowing the rise of blood sugar. Lentils are similarly rich in fibre, magnesium and protein.
Seafood: Seafood, including fish and shellfish (shrimp, lobster, oysters, mussels, etc.) is a significant source of healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals and antioxidants which may assist in balancing blood sugar levels. Protein is an important element in controlling blood sugar, as it helps to slow digestion, increases the feeling of fullness and can prevent postprandial spikes in blood sugar. Studies have found that high intake of fatty fish can help boost the body’s management of blood sugar.
Eggs: Like seafood, eggs are also a one-stop shop for high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, healthy fats and of course, protein. A number of studies have connected egg consumption with better glycaemic control, including a 2019 study of 42 overweight or obese adults living with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, which found that eating one large egg a day contributed to significant decline in fasting blood sugar levels.
Berries: Many fruits are high in natural sugars and are therefore discouraged for people with diabetes because of their tendency to raise blood sugar. Berries, however, especially raspberries, are actually chock full of fibre, an important nutrient which helps slow sugar absorption and stabilise blood sugar levels. Just one cup of berries contains 8 whole grams of fibre, so feel free to indulge!
Oats and oat bran: Oats, as well as oat bran (the outer layer of the oat grain), are yet another excellent source of soluble fibre, and can therefore aid in reducing blood sugar levels.
Avocado: This is another fruit that can be enjoyed whole-heartedly. Rich in healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre, a number of studies have shown that avocado may help to lower blood sugar and defend against metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Only one quarter of an avocado has more than 3 grams of fibre and 7 grams of fat, a combination that can help prevent blood sugar spikes.
Broccoli: Broccoli is rich in sulforaphane, a sulphur-rich compound that has blood-sugar lowering properties. Test-tube, animal and human-based studies have found that broccoli extract full of sulforaphane and glucosinolates helps to improve insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar and oxidative stress markers. In addition, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli have been found to lower risk for type 2 diabetes, so eat up!
Citrus fruits: You may be surprised to find out that though many citrus fruits are sweet, they may actually contribute to reducing blood sugar levels! Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, are considered to be low on the glycaemic index, meaning that they affect the blood sugar less than other fruits. Many of these fruits are also high in fibre and naringenin, a flavonoid with strong antidiabetic properties.
In summary, a healthy and balanced diet is an essential tool for managing one’s blood sugar. It is important to note, however, that this article is a general overview and does not replace medical advice given by a healthcare professional. Each patient is different, so it is always important to consult your physician before beginning or altering your diet or treatment.
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