What to Eat to Better Regulate Your Blood Sugar

While high blood sugar is the characteristic symptom of diabetes, your blood sugar can also be high even if you don’t have the condition. To avoid making high blood sugar worse, it is important to make good dietary choices and choose foods that can help you regulate your blood sugar.

almonds and sliced avocado on cutting board

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Fiber-Rich Foods

Foods that are high in fiber can help regulate high blood sugar by slowing down digestion. This helps prevent blood sugar spikes and improve your body’s response to insulin, the hormone that removes excess sugar from the blood to keep blood sugar levels stable.

Broccoli or Broccoli Sprouts

Sulforaphane is a sulfur-containing compound naturally found in cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Sulforaphane can help lower blood sugar by increasing glucose uptake 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 involved in the synthesis of ceramides. By inhibiting this gene, sulforaphane can decrease ceramide levels and improve insulin sensitivity by decreasing insulin resistance. When insulin sensitivity is increased, the body has an improved ability to release insulin when blood sugar is high to bring levels back down.

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli also contain glucosinolates, sulfur, and nitrogen compounds that can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce glucose levels in the blood.

Beans or Lentils

Legumes such as beans and lentils contain soluble fiber and resistant starch, which are digested much more slowly than simple carbohydrates and glucose molecules. Because soluble fiber is broken down at a slower rate, it helps reduce the rate of stomach emptying, increasing feelings of fullness and preventing spikes in blood sugar.

Resistant starch also helps prevent spikes in blood sugar after eating by being digested slowly, which can improve glycemic control, especially in people who have insulin resistance. Clinical evidence suggests that consuming half a cup of legumes, such as black beans or chickpeas, with quickly digestible carbohydrates like white rice that can quickly increase blood sugar levels helps stabilize blood glucose concentrations at 60, 90, and 120 minutes after eating.

Citrus Fruits

While citrus fruits contain sugar, they do not raise blood sugar as much as other sugar-containing foods or simple carbohydrates because of their high fiber content in the skin and pulp. Because fiber slows down digestion, blood sugar stays stable, as sugar does not enter the bloodstream as quickly and the rate of sugar absorption is slowed down. This helps improve glycemic control and regulation of insulin release to keep blood sugar levels regulated.

Small amounts of fructose, the specific sugar molecule found in fruit, has also been linked to improved glucose metabolism, increased uptake of glucose by liver cells, and decreased blood sugar levels after eating.

Citrus fruits, especially grapefruit, also contain naringenin, a polyphenol that has antioxidant effects to regulate enzymes and decrease inflammation and oxidative stress, which have a negative impact on blood sugar regulation and insulin resistance.

Elevated levels of tumor necrosis factor, an inflammatory protein, is associated with insulin resistance, and naringenin has been shown to decrease the effects of tumor necrosis factor on cellular functions.

Naringenin also helps stimulate enzymes that increase the uptake of glucose into muscles and promotes the glucose-sensing ability of cells in the pancreas to be able to release insulin in response to elevated blood glucose levels.

Flax Seeds

Consuming flax seeds can help reduce the rate of glucose absorption since they are a rich source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which help delay digestion and stomach emptying. This helps regulate blood glucose by preventing blood sugar spikes.

Clinical research supports that daily consumption of 30 grams of flaxseed in yogurt over the course of eight weeks may help lower hemoglobin A1C levels. Hemoglobin A1C is a measurement that indicates the average blood glucose level over the last two to three months.

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats can help regulate high blood sugar by supplying anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits that can help regulate your metabolism and body’s response to insulin.

Fatty Fish

Consuming fatty fish can help lower inflammation throughout the body through the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids. Decreased inflammation and oxidative stress help prevent disruption in blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.

Clinical research provides evidence that supports eight weeks of consuming 150 grams of salmon, a fatty fish, compared to cod, a lean fish, five times a week results in decreased blood sugar levels. It is suggested that the healthy fat content helps enhance sensitivity to insulin after a meal, increasing the release of insulin and helping uptake glucose from the bloodstream to stabilize blood sugar levels.

Nut Butter or Nuts

The healthy fat content of tree 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 glucose and transport of glucose into the muscles.

Tree nuts are also a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that helps regulate the ability of insulin to uptake glucose from the bloodstream to decrease blood sugar.

Clinical evidence suggests that eating a one- to two-ounce serving of tree nuts, such as almonds or walnuts, every day over the course of eight weeks can help people with diabetes improve glycemic control by lowering fasting blood glucose levels as well as hemoglobin A1C levels.

Avocados

Avocados are a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids similar to tree nuts, like almonds and walnuts, and have similar benefits of improving insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake to lower blood sugar levels. Also like tree nuts, avocados are rich in magnesium, which can also help regulate insulin and glucose uptake to lower blood sugar.

Clinical evidence suggests that incorporating either a half or full avocado into a meal can significantly decrease blood sugar spikes and overall blood sugar concentrations over the course of six hours after eating.

Eggs

Eggs, especially egg yolks, are a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins. They can help decrease inflammation throughout the body and disruptions to glucose metabolism.

Clinical research provides evidence that consuming two eggs a day over the course of 12 weeks can help reduce fasting blood glucose levels and decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 40% over the course of a 14-year follow-up period.

Foods With Probiotics

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, fermented cabbage, or fermented seaweed can help regulate blood sugar levels through the beneficial effects of probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that, when consumed, can help restore levels and functioning of the natural bacteria within the gut.

Certain foods alter the structure and activity of gut bacteria. This results in chronic inflammation and metabolism dysfunction and increases the risk of developing obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.

Clinical evidence supports beneficial effects of kimchi consumption in decreasing insulin resistance and improving insulin sensitivity by altering metabolic processes in response to regulating glucose levels.

Consuming kimchi has also been shown to help lower hemoglobin A1C levels and decrease maximum peak glucose levels in patients with diabetes.

Kefir and Yogurt

Yogurt and kefir, a fermented milk product, are also good sources of gut-healthy probiotic bacteria. Specific strains of bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most common probiotic bacteria used in food such as fermented dairy products and can help decrease blood glucose levels in patients with diabetes. It is suggested that the probiotic bacteria can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress to prevent insulin resistance and produce polypeptide compounds that help increase the uptake of glucose into muscles.

A clinical trial investigating the effects of daily kefir consumption on blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes found beneficial effects in reducing hemoglobin A1C levels.

Further clinical research suggests that daily consumption of 150 grams of yogurt over the course of four weeks can lower blood glucose levels after eating and regulates the insulin response.

Summary

Some foods like those rich in fiber, beneficial fatty acids like omega-3, and probiotics can help you lower your blood sugar levels. Eating a balanced and healthy diet is the easiest way to manage your blood glucose and keep it stable.

A Word From Verywell 

Having high blood sugar can increase your risk of developing diabetes and other complications, but it can be effectively managed by making healthy food choices.

Limiting your intake of sugar and simple carbohydrate foods and eating more foods rich in fiber, healthy fats, and probiotics can all help balance blood sugar levels and improve your body’s response to insulin.

Before starting any new dietary program, consult with your healthcare provider to make sure any changes you make to your diet are done safely.

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