The Best 8 Foods To Lower Blood Sugar Levels

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November 17, 2022
salmon avocado toast on a plate with herbs
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While there isn’t one food that can magically lower blood sugar on its own, healthy lifestyle changes synergistically work together to improve your blood sugar levels over time. Better blood sugar starts with creating balanced meals. Balanced meals are made up of three big components that help regulate blood sugar.

  • Protein: Protein is one of the slowest macronutrients to digest, which slows down the rate of absorption and keeps blood sugar more stable. Meals that lack proteins often cause blood sugar to spike quickly and may result in a crash.
  • Fiber: High-fiber foods help manage blood sugars and keep blood sugar levels stable. Fiber takes a while to break down, lowers the glycemic index of foods, and increases fullness after meals.
  • Healthy fats: Similar to protein and fiber, healthy fat is very filling and also increases satisfaction at meals. High-fat foods take a long time to digest, have heart health benefits, and can help keep blood sugar control over time.

So if you had to choose, these would likely be considered the best foods to lower blood sugar levels, based on those three major components.

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1. Avocado

Avocado is a great food to lower blood sugar due to its healthy fat and fiber content.

“One-third of an avocado has 4 grams of carbs and nearly 80% of that is fiber,” says Amanda Sauceda, MS, RD. “Fiber matters for your blood sugar because it slows down digestion which means you will have less of a blood sugar spike.”

Beyond directly lowering blood sugar, avocados may offer indirect health benefits by improving gut health.

“There is also emerging research looking at how your gut microbiome may play a role with blood sugar and diabetes so eating more fiber, like avocado, can be helpful,” Sauceda explains.

2. Pumpkin Seeds

“Pumpkin seeds are packed with healthy fats and fiber, both of which may support blood sugar management by slowing down digestion,” says Sarah Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDN, a dietitian for moms. “Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of many nutrients including antioxidants that include vitamin E and carotenoids, which have been linked to lower inflammation and may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.”

Further, all types of nuts and seeds contain blood sugar-regulating fiber, healthy fat, and protein. Consider changing up your snack time with a variety of nuts and seeds for your blood sugar. We’ve got you covered with 7 Ways to Eat More Nuts (and Why You Should).

3. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is notorious for its high-fiber benefits. From lowering blood sugar to reducing cholesterol, this powerhouse breakfast is a healthy staple. The soluble fiber in oatmeal slows down how quickly food leaves our stomach, and thus acts like a “slow drip” of energy instead of a blood sugar roller coaster.

Oatmeal is quite rich in soluble fiber, but may also be found in other foods like beans, apples, prunes, and carrots.

“Oatmeal and other foods containing soluble fiber aid in blood sugar reduction,” says Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD. “Add a half cup of black, kidney, or garbanzo beans to salad to boost soluble fiber intake.”

4. Kefir

Kefir is similar to yogurt and offers a healthy balance of protein, some carbohydrates, and healthy fat.

Kefir is a great food for blood sugar control. There have been multiple studies showing benefits to people with diabetes, including a decrease in fasting blood glucose levels and lab tests like hemoglobin A1c after consuming one cup of kefir daily.

5. Almonds

Almonds are the highest fiber nut with 4 grams per one-ounce serving.

“Consuming a high fiber diet can delay gastric emptying which helps steady blood sugar levels, increase satiety, suppress hunger and the desire to eat, and promote fullness,” says Toby Smithson, RD, CDCES for DiabetesEveryDay.com and author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies.

Smithson recalls recent research that looked at the connection between eating almonds and prediabetes. “Consuming daily almond snacks was a healthy habit that people with prediabetes were able to stick with – and in turn, the study participants experienced a reduction in certain risk factors associated with prediabetes.”

“As a person successfully managing my own diabetes for over five decades, I strategically eat almonds with my meals or along with a carbohydrate food choice at snack times to keep my blood sugar levels from spiking,” she continues

If you are more of a nut butter person instead of plain nuts, consider one of these Healthy Nut Butters RDs Love instead.

6. Salmon

Salmon and other fatty fish are high in protein and heart-healthy fats that help stabilize blood sugars and reduce the risk for diabetes-related comorbidities like heart disease and high cholesterol.

A 3-ounce serving of wild Alaskan salmon provides 22 grams of protein and four heart-healthy fats. Wild Alaskan salmon provides more omega-3 fatty acids which help lower “bad” cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk factors according to the American Heart Association.

If you get a little burned out on fish, we’ve put together 11 Quick and Delicious Weeknight Salmon Recipes so that you’ll never feel bored again.

7. Beans

Beans offer soluble fiber, protein, and often are low glycemic. This means that despite being a source of carbs, they are unlikely to spike blood sugar levels and more likely to keep you feeling full and energized for hours.

Kathryn Bonilla Strickland, RDN, a plant-centered dietitian, says “beans are a good source of plant-based protein and fiber. The protein and fiber in beans lower blood sugar by slowing the rate that blood sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream from the digestive tract.”

8. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is an easy snack to add to crackers, a piece of fruit, or take straight from the jar with a spoon. With a balance of protein, fiber, and healthy fat, you’ll be sure to help lower your blood sugar with this addition to a meal or snack.

Jenna Gorham, RD, LN of the RD Link explains her take on peanut butter for blood sugar control: “Peanut butter is an excellent option for blood sugar control. With 7 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 16 grams of healthy fats, it has the key three components for blood sugar control.”

If you want to incorporate peanut butter outside of snack time, we’ve got you covered with 7 Savory Peanut Butter Recipes.

9. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are high in healthy fats, fiber, and help our hydration levels to boot. These tiny but mighty seeds can lower blood sugar levels by easily adding them to a meal or snack. They go well in smoothies, on top of yogurt or peanut butter toast, or on their own in this Coconut Chia Seed Pudding Recipe.

“Chia seeds are a great option for blood sugar control since they can help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity,” says Elysia Cartlidge, MAN, RD, founder of Haute & Healthy Living. “Not only are they a source of soluble fiber, protein, and healthy fats, but they’re also really easy to incorporate into your daily meals.”

Read next: The Best Snack Combination for Your Blood Sugar

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