What to eat to lower blood sugar levels

Updated April 17, 2017

If you are diabetic, or prediabetic, and you want to control your blood sugar levels without medication, there are foods you can eat that will help you maintain lower blood sugar levels. Food cannot work as insulin, providing an immediate decrease in elevated blood sugar levels. Making smart food choices, however, can result in lower blood sugar levels overall that will help you maintain health and decrease your need for insulin.

The Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how foods affect blood sugar levels. The lower the GI, the less a food will raise your blood sugar. Choose foods with a low or moderate GI, and you will have lower overall blood sugar levels. A GI score of 55 or less is considered low. A moderate score is 56 to 69, and any food with a score of 70 or above is considered to have a high GI. Many GI numbers are expressed as a range rather than an absolute number. This is because individual responses during testing varied. Your response to particular foods, especially those in the moderate range, may vary as well. Take into consideration how you respond to particular foods in addition to their GI ratings when you make your meal plans.

Glycemic Impact

In addition to your individual metabolic response, other factors can affect the glycemic impact of a food. How a food is prepared can affect glycemic impact; for example, fully cooked pasta is more easily digested by the body and has a higher glycemic impact than pasta cooked al dente. What a food is eaten with will affect its glycemic impact; a high GI carbohydrate will have less overall impact if it is consumed in a small quantity as a part of a meal that includes proteins, fats and fibre. Varieties can matter as well; for example, one particular variety of rice may have a lower GI than another. Whole fruits such as applies generally have a lower GI than juice from that fruit.

Protein and Fat

Foods that are primarily protein, such as beef, pork, poultry and fish, have virtually no glycemic impact. Fats, such as butter and olive oil, also have virtually no glycemic impact. Carbohydrate foods are the ones to watch. Do not attempt to lower your blood sugar levels by consuming only protein and fat. Your body needs quality carbohydrate choices for health.

Choosing Carbohydrates

Your carbohydrate choices should be primarily low GI vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Minimise your intake of starchy foods, such as baked potatoes, which have a higher GI than table sugar. Avoid processed starches and sugars, as in most breakfast cereals or white bread. Examples of low GI vegetables include broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, pumpkin, spinach and tomatoes. Low GI fruits include raspberries, strawberries and avocados.

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About the Author

Stephanie Crumley Hill is a childbirth educator who for more than 20 years has written professionally about pregnancy, family and a variety of health and medical topics. A former print magazine editor, her insurance articles for “Resource” magazine garnered numerous awards. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Georgia.