Foods that lower blood sugar
Can you eat your way out of high blood sugar?
Eating certain foods can help lower blood sugar.
Cinnamon: When you think of cinnamon, your mind may naturally turn toward the combination of cinnamon and sugar. So, the fact that cinnamon is effective at reducing blood sugar and reducing the risk of developing diabetes may come as something of a surprise. Both whole cinnamon and cinnamon extracts lower fasting blood glucose. Cinnamon also reduces fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, while raising “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
But beware: there are several different kinds of cinnamon, some of which are better than others. For example, Saigon cinnamon contains high levels of coumarin, a natural ingredient linked to potential liver damage. Ceylon cinnamon may be safer.
Fenugreek: Fenugreek is a spice whose leaves and seeds are commonly used in South Asian food. Fenugreek seeds are related to beans. It’s used as a supplement by nursing mothers, and in a wide range of herbal medicines. Fenugreek lowers blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, as well as those with prediabetes.
The fiber in fenugreek seeds is effective in slowing down digestion of carbohydrates. Fenugreek can be taken as a tea or added to a wide variety of tasty recipes.
Garlic and onions: Garlic has been used for years to lower cholesterol levels, but it also lowers blood sugar. Garlic extracts increase the amount of insulin in people with diabetes.
In many recipes, garlic is often accompanied by onions, which might also have positive effects on blood sugar. Sulfur-based compounds in onions, such as S-methylcysteine and the flavonoid quercetin, are believed to be responsible for these effects.
Avocados: Monounsaturated fatty acids are important components of a plan to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. These fats are a key nutrient in avocados.
Avocados have been shown to lower the risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. They improve fasting and average blood glucose. They also lower insulin resistance, a part of prediabetes where the body’s cells don’t respond to the insulin that the body makes. Avocados also increase feelings of satisfaction after eating, and have a healthy impact on blood pressure and inflammation.
Berries: Anthrocyanins are nutrients found in colorful plants, especially in vegetables and fruits. They’re also found in tea, honey, wine, nuts, olive oil, and chocolate. Blue, purple, or red-skinned fruits have the highest concentrations. Blackberries and blueberries are the biggest sources of anthrocyanins. Anthrocyanins directly affect blood sugar after a meal by inhibiting certain digestive enzymes. This slows down digestion and prevents spikes in blood sugar after starch-rich meals. The nutrients found in blueberries don’t just slow down digestion.
Adding blueberries to the diet of obese people who had prediabetes, via a couple of blueberry smoothies a day for six weeks, improved insulin sensitivity. Another plus: blueberries are also a great source of soluble fiber and a number of other important nutrients.
Cherries: Cherries, especially tart cherries and dark sweet cherries, are full of anthrocyanins. People who eat diets higher in anthrocyanins have less insulin resistance and lower levels of inflammation.
Insulin resistance prevents insulin from working properly and from lowering blood sugar to levels in the normal range. Eating a diet high in anthrocyanins improves the use of insulin and lowers blood sugars.
Vinegar: As the famous English nanny Mary Poppins might have sang had she known, “A spoonful of vinegar makes the sugar go down!” Apple cider vinegar has been popular in health food circles for a long time. The acetic acid in vinegar reduces levels of certain enzymes in the stomach.
Drinking a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water before eating has health benefits. It helps increase sensitivity to insulin and reduces the spike in blood sugar after eating starchy food in people with prediabetes as well as those with diabetes.
Coffee: Increasing your coffee intake by one cup a day may lower your risk of diabetes by more than 10 percent.
Mangos: Paradoxically, although mangos may taste sugary sweet, this delicious fruit actually lowers blood sugar. Daily consumption of 10 grams of freeze-dried mango, which is equivalent to about one-half of a fresh mango [about 100 grams], helps lower blood sugar in obese individuals. Mangos also contain fiber and over 20 different vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C, and folate.
Olive oil: Olive oil encourages the release of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin. In addition, olive oil—which is rich in the same monounsaturated fat as that found in avocados—prevents insulin resistance as well as the accumulation of stomach fat.
Eggs: Interestingly and perhaps unexpectedly, obese people given two eggs a day for breakfast lose 65% more weight than those eating a similar breakfast without eggs. Eating eggs controls hunger by reducing the postmeal insulin response and controls appetite by preventing large fluctuations in both glucose and insulin levels. People who eat eggs for breakfast eat fewer calories for the next 36 hours.
Nuts and seeds: Nuts, like almonds, and seeds, like hemp, chia, and flax, are a great way of lowering blood sugar as well as boosting your dietary intake of other micronutrients.
All nuts are rich in chromium, which assists blood sugar reduction. However, almonds contain a relatively higher amount of magnesium than other nuts, with cashews coming a close second. Go for a handful of raw almonds or cashews next time you fancy a snack. Just a small handful will go a long way to controlling blood sugar levels and providing your body with a host of micronutrients.
Other foods: Numerous other foods may help your efforts to reduce blood sugar levels, including barley, lemons, and sweet potatoes. Hopefully, a few of these or the foods listed above are foods that you love!
In summary, don’t forget that the most important way to avoid the onset of diabetes if you’re insulin resistant is to lose weight and exercise. No one food or supplement is going to take the place of the long-term benefits of weight loss and exercise.
Still, a pinch of cinnamon in your morning coffee and a bowl of blueberries might be a good way—from both a taste and health perspective–to start the day!