The foods you consume have an impact on the blood sugar levels in the body. Glycemic index (GI) is a number associated with a food that indicates its effect on the blood glucose levels. Generally, foods that contain carbohydrates have a GI.
Glycemic index can be low, medium, and high. Low GI foods (55 or less) do not increase your glucose levels drastically. Medium GI foods (56–69) affect the blood sugars moderately and high GI foods (70 or more) have a high effect on the blood glucose levels. Therefore, diabetics should avoid high GI foods.
Here’s a list of healthy foods that can maintain your blood sugars and can help you avoid the risk of developing heart diseases, diabetes, and other health issues.
7 Healthy Foods That Can Maintain Blood Sugar Levels
Oats is a high-fiber food that can be eaten without the risk of increasing your blood sugar levels. Oatmeal has a low glycemic index (55); therefore, it will not affect the blood sugar levels drastically. Oatmeal is also a heart-friendly food and is also known to lower the bad cholesterol levels.
Consuming fiber-rich foods has positive effects on diabetes patients.1
You can have oatmeal for breakfast. Add nuts or berries to make them taste better. Avoid instant oatmeal as they contain artificial flavors and sweeteners that can raise the blood sugars. Instant oatmeal has a high glycemic index of 77.2
Carrots have a low GI of 39 and they can be used to maintain or control blood glucose levels.3 There is a common misconception about carrots being loaded with sugar which is not true. Carrots are good for your health even if you are diabetic.
To be on the safe side, it is advised to consume carrots raw than cooked. This is because cooking vegetables will cause their carbohydrates to be easily available which may cause an increase in blood sugar levels. However, there is no evidence of this occurring in carrots.4 Add carrots to your salads or pasta dishes.
Nonstarchy vegetables like broccoli, artichoke, asparagus, celery, cauliflower, beets, leeks, tomatoes, turnips, onions, and others are good for maintaining blood sugars.
3. Probiotic Yogurt
Yogurt, especially plain yogurt, is found to be a good food for controlling glucose levels in the blood. Avoid flavored yogurt as these may contain added sugars and artificial flavors. It is always best to stick to plain yogurt like Greek yogurt.
Probiotic yogurt is also known to improve antioxidant status in type 2 diabetes patients.5 Therefore, it can be used to effectively manage diabetes.
Probiotic yogurt can also improve the total cholesterol levels and may also improve the cardiovascular health.6 You can have yogurt as is or you can blend in your favorite fruits to add flavor.
Almonds are a good source of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. They are considered to be a healthy choice of nuts that can help control the glucose levels in the blood.
Diabetes is associated with a deficiency in magnesium.7 This may not be true for all diabetic patients. However, almonds are a good source of magnesium and eating them regularly in moderate amounts can provide magnesium required by the body.
Results of a study also show how almonds in a healthy diet improved the glycemic control and lipid profiles in patients with type 2 diabetes.8 Studies also show how an increase in the consumption of nuts can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.9
You can add almonds to your breakfast cereals, your favorite smoothies, or even sprinkle them on desserts. Other nuts good for controlling sugar levels include cashews, walnuts, peanuts, and pistachios. Seeds like sunflower seeds, flax seeds, fenugreek seeds, and chia seeds are healthy as well.
Strawberries have a low glycemic index, approximately between 34 and 46. Therefore, they may not have a major effect on your glucose levels.
Strawberries are also sources of condensed tannins that are known to reduce glucose levels.10 Consuming strawberries may also help in managing hyperglycemia and hypertension linked to type 2 diabetes.11
You can include strawberries in your diet by adding them to cereals for breakfast, smoothies, or even yogurt.
6. Green Beans
Green beans and other legumes like alfalfa, lupin beans, peanuts, dry beans, broad beans, chickpeas, and lentils are useful insulin regulators. This is due to the high polysaccharide content of legumes.12
Results of a study involving 25 patients with diabetes show that consuming carbohydrates in the form of legumes reduced the blood glucose more than that reduced by consuming carbohydrates in the form of cereals.13 There is strong evidence that proves that legumes can be used in the prevention and management of diabetes.14
7. Garlic And Onions
Garlic and onions may help in lowering blood sugar levels. Results of animal studies show that garlic is effective in lowering serum glucose levels in rats and mice.15 Garlic may also be used to reduce diabetic complications as well as prevent the development of atherosclerosis and nephropathy generally observed in diabetic patients.
Onions may be helpful in reducing the blood sugars because of the component called allyl propyl disulfide. The presence of this component helps prevent the degradation of insulin.16
If you are diabetic or want to control your blood sugar levels, you can include these foods in your daily diet after speaking to your health professional. If you are allergic to any food mentioned in this list, avoid them. Do not eat excessive quantities of food because they mildly affect blood sugars; instead, consume them in moderate amounts.
|↑1||Miranda, Perla M., and David L. Horwitz. “High-fiber diets in the treatment of diabetes mellitus.” Ann Intern Med 88, no. 4 (1978): 482-486.|
|↑2, ↑3||Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods. Harvard Medical School.|
|↑4||Vaaler, Stein, Kristian F. Hanssen, and Øystein Aagenæs. “The effect of cooking upon the blood glucose response to ingested carrots and potatoes.” Diabetes Care 7, no. 3 (1984): 221-223.|
|↑5||Ejtahed, Hanie S., Javad Mohtadi-Nia, Aziz Homayouni-Rad, Mitra Niafar, Mohammad Asghari-Jafarabadi, and Vahid Mofid. “Probiotic yogurt improves antioxidant status in type 2 diabetic patients.” Nutrition 28, no. 5 (2012): 539-543.|
|↑6||Ejtahed, H. S., J. Mohtadi-Nia, A. Homayouni-Rad, M. Niafar, M. Asghari-Jafarabadi, V. Mofid, and A. Akbarian-Moghari. “Effect of probiotic yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis on lipid profile in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus.” Journal of dairy science 94, no. 7 (2011): 3288-3294.|
|↑7||Barbagallo, Mario, and Ligia J. Dominguez. “Magnesium and type 2 diabetes.” World journal of diabetes 6, no. 10 (2015): 1152.|
|↑8||Li, Sing-Chung, Yen-Hua Liu, Jen-Fang Liu, Wen-Hsin Chang, Chiao-Ming Chen, and C-Y. Oliver Chen. “Almond consumption improved glycemic control and lipid profiles in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.” Metabolism 60, no. 4 (2011): 474-479.|
|↑9||Jenkins, David JA, Frank B. Hu, Linda C. Tapsell, Andrea R. Josse, and Cyril WC Kendall. “Possible benefit of nuts in type 2 diabetes.” The Journal of nutrition 138, no. 9 (2008): 1752S-1756S.|
|↑10||Kumari, M., and S. Jain. “Tannins: An antinutrient with positive effect to manage diabetes.” Research Journal of Recent Sciences ISSN 2277 (2012): 2502.|
|↑11||da Silva Pinto, Marcia, Joao Ernesto de Carvalho, Franco Maria Lajolo, Maria Inés Genovese, and Kalidas Shetty. “Evaluation of antiproliferative, anti-type 2 diabetes, and antihypertension potentials of ellagitannins from strawberries (Fragaria× ananassa Duch.) using in vitro models.” Journal of medicinal food 13, no. 5 (2010): 1027-1035.|
|↑12||duval, Claire. 125 + Foods for Diabetics and 28 Foods Not Allowed on a Diabetes Diet. The Natural Cure Network, 2012.|
|↑13||Dilawari, J. B., V. K. Ajit Kumar, S. Khurana, R. Bhatnagar, and R. J. Dash. “Effect of legumes on blood sugar in diabetes mellitus.” Indian journal of medical research (1987).|
|↑14||Venn, B. J., and J. I. Mann. “Cereal grains, legumes and diabetes.” European journal of clinical nutrition 58, no. 11 (2004): 1443-1461.|
|↑15||Thomson, Martha, Zainab M. Al-Amin, Khaled K. Al-Qattan, Lemia H. Shaban, and Muslim Ali. “Anti-diabetic and hypolipidaemic properties of garlic (Allium sativum) in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.” Int J Diabetes & Metabolism 15 (2007): 108-15.|
|↑16||Srinivasan, K. “Plant foods in the management of diabetes mellitus: spices as beneficial antidiabetic food adjuncts.” International journal of food sciences and nutrition 56, no. 6 (2005): 399-414.|