While high blood sugar is the defining symptom of diabetes, your blood sugar can be high even if you don’t have the condition. To avoid the worsening of high blood sugar levels, it is important to choose a good diet and choose foods that can help you regulate your blood sugar.
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High fiber foods
High fiber foods can help regulate high blood sugar by slowing digestion. This helps prevent blood sugar spikes and improves your body’s response to insulin, the hormone that removes excess sugar from the blood to help keep blood sugar levels stable.
Broccoli or broccoli sprouts
Sulforaphane is a sulfur-containing compound found naturally in cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Sulforaphane can help lower blood sugar by increasing the uptake of glucose from the bloodstream by regulating signaling proteins that control liver cells and their response to insulin.
Liver cells produce ceramides, fatty lipid molecules that can cause insulin resistance. Sulforaphane has been shown to block an enzyme that is involved in the synthesis of ceramides. By blocking this gene, sulforaphane can lower ceramide levels and improve insulin sensitivity by reducing insulin resistance. When insulin sensitivity is increased, the body has an improved ability to release insulin when blood sugar levels are high to bring them back down.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli also contain glucosinolates, sulfur and nitrogen compounds that can improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.
Beans or lentils
Legumes like beans and lentils contain soluble fiber and resistant starch, which are digested much more slowly than simple carbohydrates and glucose molecules. Since soluble fiber is broken down more slowly, it helps to reduce gastric emptying, increase the feeling of satiety and prevent blood sugar spikes.
Resistant starch also helps prevent spikes in blood sugar after a meal by digesting it slowly, which can improve glycemic control, especially in people with insulin resistance. Clinical evidence suggests that consuming half a cup of legumes like black beans or chickpeas with fast-digesting carbohydrates like white rice, which can quickly raise blood sugar levels, helps stabilize blood sugar levels 60, 90, and 120 minutes after you eat.
While citrus fruits contain sugar, due to their high fiber content in the skin and pulp, they do not raise blood sugar as much as other sugary foods or simple carbohydrates. Because fiber slows digestion, blood sugar stays stable because the sugar doesn’t get into the bloodstream as quickly and the rate at which sugar is absorbed is slowed down. This helps improve glycemic control and the regulation of insulin release to keep blood sugar levels regulated.
Small amounts of fructose, the specific sugar molecule found in fruits, have also been linked to improved glucose metabolism, increased glucose uptake by liver cells, and decreased blood sugar levels after meals.
Citrus fruits, especially grapefruit, also contain naringenin, a polyphenol that has antioxidant properties to help regulate enzymes and reduce inflammation and oxidative stress that negatively affect blood sugar regulation and insulin resistance.
Elevated levels of tumor necrosis factor, an inflammatory protein, have been linked to insulin resistance and naringenin has been shown to reduce the effect of tumor necrosis factor on cellular function.
Naringenin also helps stimulate enzymes that increase the uptake of glucose by muscles and promotes the glucose-sensing ability of cells in the pancreas to release insulin in response to increased blood sugar levels.
Consuming flaxseed can help reduce glucose absorption as it is a rich source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids that slow digestion and gastric emptying. This helps regulate blood sugar by preventing blood sugar spikes.
Clinical studies show that consuming 30 grams of flaxseed in yogurt daily for eight weeks can help lower hemoglobin A1C levels. Hemoglobin A1C is a measurement that shows the average blood sugar level for the past two to three months.
Healthy fats can help regulate high blood sugar by providing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits that can help regulate your metabolism and the body’s response to insulin.
Eating oily fish can help reduce inflammation throughout the body due to the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids. Decreased inflammation and oxidative stress help prevent blood sugar disruptions and insulin resistance.
Clinical research shows that eating 150 grams of salmon, a fatty fish, for eight weeks results in lower blood sugar levels five times a week compared to cod, a lean fish. It is believed that healthy fat levels help increase insulin sensitivity after a meal, increase the release of insulin, and aid the absorption of glucose from the bloodstream to help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Nut butter or nuts
The healthy fat content of nuts, especially almonds and walnuts, can help improve glycemic control by improving the insulin signaling pathway to release insulin from pancreatic cells in response to increased blood sugar and the transport of glucose into muscles.
Tree nuts are also a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that helps regulate insulin’s ability to absorb glucose from the bloodstream to lower blood sugar.
Clinical evidence suggests that consuming a one to two-ounce serving of tree nuts such as almonds or walnuts daily for eight weeks can help people with diabetes improve glycemic control by increasing fasting blood sugar levels as well as hemoglobin A1C . levels are lowered.
Avocados are a rich source of monounsaturated fat, similar to nuts like almonds and walnuts, and have similar benefits in improving insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake to lower blood sugar levels. Avocados, like nuts, are high in magnesium, which can also help regulate insulin and glucose uptake to lower blood sugar.
Clinical evidence suggests that including half or whole avocados in one meal can significantly lower blood sugar spikes and total blood sugar levels over the course of six hours after a meal.
Eggs, especially egg yolks, are a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins. They can help reduce inflammation throughout the body and glucose metabolism disorders.
Clinical research shows that eating two eggs a day for 12 weeks can help lower fasting blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 40% over a 14-year follow-up period .
Foods with probiotics
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, fermented cabbage or fermented algae can help regulate blood sugar levels thanks to the positive effects of probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that, when consumed, can help restore the levels and function of natural bacteria in the gut.
Certain foods change the structure and activity of intestinal bacteria. This leads to chronic inflammation and metabolic disorders, and increases the risk of developing obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.
Clinical evidence supports the beneficial effects of consuming kimchi in reducing insulin resistance and improving insulin sensitivity by altering metabolic processes in response to regulating glucose levels.
Kimchi has also been shown to help lower hemoglobin A1C levels and lower peak peak glucose levels in people with diabetes.
Kefir and yogurt
Yogurt and kefir, a fermented milk product, are also good sources of gut-healthy probiotic bacteria. Certain strains of bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, are the probiotic bacteria most commonly used in foods such as fermented dairy products and can help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It is believed that the probiotic bacteria can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress to prevent insulin resistance and make polypeptide compounds that help increase the uptake of glucose by muscles.
A clinical study examining the effects of daily kefir consumption on blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes found beneficial effects in lowering hemoglobin A1C levels.
Other clinical studies suggest that consuming 150 grams of yogurt daily for four weeks can lower blood sugar levels after meals and regulate the insulin response.
Some foods like high fiber, beneficial fatty acids like omega-3s and probiotics can help you lower your blood sugar levels. Eating a balanced and healthy diet is the easiest way to control your blood sugar and keep it stable.
A word from Verywell
High blood sugar levels can increase the risk of developing diabetes and other complications, but it can be effectively treated with a healthy diet.
Limiting your intake of sugar and simple carbohydrate foods and eating more high-fiber, healthy fats and probiotics can all help balance blood sugar levels and improve your body’s response to insulin.
Before embarking on a new nutritional program, consult with your doctor to ensure that any changes you make to your diet are safely made.