Has your doctor advised you to start lowering your blood sugar levels through food after your last blood tests? Or maybe you have a history of diabetes in your family and want to be more mindful about what you are eating so you can better manage your blood sugar levels?
Blood sugars are important for the body, but when they get too high they can do a number on our overall health.
Whether your blood sugar levels are high now or if you want to prevent high blood sugar issues down the road, we here are eight foods that are great for lowering and supporting healthy blood sugar levels:
Why Is Balanced Blood Sugar Important?
Blood sugar, or glucose, is the main source of energy for your body. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Once your food is broken down in the stomach, the sugars and starches are turned into glucose, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Your blood carries the glucose to all of your cells to give them energy.
When your blood sugar levels are balanced, your body is able to work as it should. Your moods will be more balanced, and you may have more energy.
When it is out of balance for extended lengths of time, you may be diagnosed with diabetes. If you do not manage your diabetes properly, it may put you at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, slow healing wounds, and nerve damage.
How Do I Know If I Have High or Low Blood Sugar?
Your body naturally balances blood sugar levels with a hormone called insulin. The pancreas makes insulin when the glucose levels rise in the blood, and insulin essentially moves the glucose into cells to be used for fuel.
When someone has type 1 diabetes, their pancreas is unable to produce insulin, causing a buildup of blood sugar since there is nothing to move the sugar into cells for use.
When someone has type 2 diabetes, the cells generally lose their insulin sensitivity, which means they stop taking the glucose they need for energy and the glucose hangs out in the blood instead, accumulating and resulting in higher blood sugar levels.
The best way to find out if your blood glucose levels are within a healthy range is to have your doctor order fasting blood work. For fasting blood work, you would stop eating and drinking (besides water) the night before, and then have your blood drawn before your breakfast in the morning.
Blood sugar spikes can be normal, especially if you eat or drink something high in sugar or carbs, but your fasting blood sugar levels should be below 100 mg/dL.
Your blood sugar levels should not be too high or too low, on average. If your blood has too little sugar, you may feel dizzy, sweaty, hungry, or weak, and you may get heart palpitations. If you have high blood sugar, you may experience extreme thirst, frequent urination, tiredness, listlessness, nausea, and dizziness.
Which Foods Can Help Lower Blood Sugar?
While there are some people who have blood sugar imbalances due to genetics, it can also be due to lifestyle, specifically what foods and beverages are consumed.
The foods you want to stay away from are super sugary foods and drinks, foods high in trans-fats (like fried foods), grains (pasta, white bread, rice), processed carbs, and processed meats.
There are also foods that help your blood sugar levels stay balanced. The glycemic index provides insight into how much a certain food affects blood sugar levels— focus on low glycemic index foods.
While aiming for low-glycemic index is a good guide, it only takes into account the way your body reacts to the sugar and does not take into account any other nutrition or calories. Make sure to stick with whole foods, too.
Here are some of the best foods you can eat to help lower your blood sugar levels.
There are both starchy and non-starch vegetables. Starch is a type of carbohydrate that is broken down into glucose in the blood. When you eat foods that are high in starch, it can increase your glucose levels. While some carbs are good because they give your cells the energy they need, you want to be mindful of how many carbs you are eating when watching your blood sugar levels.
Non-starchy vegetables include broccoli, artichokes, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, onions, peas, kale, and spinach. Not only do these vegetables have a low effect on your blood glucose levels, but they are also very high in nutrients like vitamins and minerals. They also have a lot of fiber without being high in calories.
If you are having trouble getting in your daily dose of veggies, try adding a salad as a side or even a whole meal. You can add leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, which are all non-starchy vegetables. Toss it with a light apple cider vinegar dressing, and it is the perfect lunch or dinner!
And don’t forget Kroma’s Supergreens Elixir. We like to say we’ve included just about every fruit and vegetable under the sun, along with superfoods like healing mushrooms, digestive enzymes, and prebiotics.
Adding fatty fish can help regulate glucose in the blood. Fatty fish include salmon, herring, sardines, anchovies, and tuna. These fish have omega-3 fatty acids, which help support a healthy heart. Having high blood sugar can cause negative effects on your heart, so supporting your heart with omega-3s can be very beneficial.
Fatty fish is also a great source of protein, which can also help to manage glucose levels. You can figure out how many grams of protein you should be eating with a simple calculation: Take your weight in pounds and multiply it by 0.36 — that’s how many grams of protein you should aim to consume daily. For example, if you are 150 pounds, you would want to shoot for eating 54 grams of protein.
Try adding fatty fish to your meals two or three times a week to see the benefits. You can top your salad with fish, make healthy fish tacos, or swap out your steak or chicken for a piece of fish!
Whether you eat it for a snack or add it to your whole grain toast for breakfast, nut butter can be very beneficial for lowering blood sugar. Nut butters can be made with any type of nut, like peanuts, almonds, cashews, and walnuts. Make sure your nut butters are not loaded with extra ingredients, like sugar and hydrogenated oils.
Nut butters contain healthy fats, which may help with glucose control. The fibers found in nut butters are prebiotic fibers, which can also help lower blood sugars by supporting the good bacteria in the gut. The magnesium found in nuts is an antioxidant and reduces inflammation, which supports healthy blood pressure.
Our OMG Cookie Butter makes it deliciously easy to get an indulgent, nourishing bite of antioxidants, healthy fats, and plant protein, with raw almond butter as the first ingredient.
Matcha is extremely high in a polyphen called catechin. Catechin has been shown to help support weight management and lower blood sugar levels.
The Beauty Matcha Latte from Kroma Wellness not only contains matcha but is also full of other antioxidants like turmeric and ginger. We also add in collagen protein to give you extra protein and support your gut, bones, and joints.
Sprinkle flax seeds in your smoothie or over a salad for a great way to boost your omega-3s, especially if you are on a plant-based diet. Flax seeds and chia seeds are also very high in soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, which creates a gel-like consistency in the gut. This can be very beneficial for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels by supporting healthy digestion. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, but attracts water. This can help make stool softer and easier to pass. Both fibers are extremely beneficial in supporting healthy blood sugar levels.
Turmeric is a spice made from the root of the turmeric plant, known for its bright golden color. It has been used to support overall health for thousands of years, and researchers are starting to find out why this species has been important for so long. Turmeric has been shown to help with insulin resistance and protect against complications that can arise from high blood sugars. Sip on our Ultimate Vitality Latte for your daily dose of turmeric!
Fruit can sometimes get a bad rap for being high in sugar, but sugars in whole fruits are different from the sugary juice drinks that can spike blood sugar. Whole fruits contain vitamins, minerals, and fibers to help support overall health. Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are a particularly low-glycemic food. Whole fruit can be a healthy option for supporting blood sugar levels, but some can be high on the glycemic index, like mangos, dried fruits, and fruit juices, so be watchful of which and how much fruit you consume.
At Kroma, we love adding our favorite berries to our Super Porridge. It’s a great way to start your day and to help manage insulin levels. Healthy fats and fibers energize you now, then fuel you for the rest of the day.
Avocados are both low in carbohydrates, which can cause spikes in blood sugar, and high in fiber, which can help lower blood sugar. This balance makes them a great food for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
Avocados are delicious at any time of the day. You can cut up half an avocado, sprinkle it with lemon or lime juice, and smash it up for an easy guacamole or, if you do not like the taste of avocado, add it to your smoothie. It will help give it a smooth, creamy texture.
Sugar is the main fuel for the body, but when it gets too high in our blood for too long, it can cause major issues, like heart disease, vision problems, and nerve damage. Eating foods that are high in healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants, and low in processed sugars and simple carbs, can help lower and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Understanding Insulin Sensitivity and Diabetes | National Institutes of Health
Hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia in type 2 diabetes - InformedHealth.org | NCBI Bookshelf
High intake of fatty fish, but not of lean fish, improved postprandial glucose regulation and increased the n-3 PUFA content in the leucocyte membrane in healthy overweight adults: a randomised trial | PubMed
How much protein do you need every day? | Harvard Health
Benefits of Nut Consumption on Insulin Resistance and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Multiple Potential Mechanisms of Actions | NCBI
A catechin-rich beverage improves obesity and blood glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes | PubMed