Eat These For Better Blood Sugar Control

Believe it or not, adding these diabetes-friendly foods to your menu can help balance your blood sugar levels.

Amanda Prost

When it comes to reining in your blood sugar, adding the right bites to your diet can help keep levels on a healthy, even keel. So go ahead and fill your plate with these diabetes-friendly foods!

Start the day with oatmeal
This breakfast staple is high in fiber—one cup cooked has about 4 grams—which means it’s digested slowly. That slows the release of glucose into your bloodstream, helping you sidestep sugar spikes. How much fiber should you get? A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found 50 grams a day is ideal for blood sugar control.

For the best benefit: Skip instant and opt for rolled or steel-cut versions instead. They’re less processed and contain more fiber.

Make it even healthier: Sprinkle on cinnamon! Research published in Diabetes Care found that eating as little as one-quarter to one-half teaspoon of cinnamon a day can lower blood sugar as much as 29%!

Enjoy an apple
Pectin, a type of soluble fiber found in the fruit, helps stall the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. What’s more, apples are a good source of quercetin, a flavonoid that slows the breakdown of food into sugar.

For the best benefit: Eat the skin—that’s where most of the quercetin in apples is concentrated.

Make it even healthier: Pair ’em with peanut butter! Arizona State University researchers found that when the spread was added to a carb-heavy meal of bagel and juice, peanut butter counteracted blood sugar spikes.

Saute up some spinach
The leafy green is a great source of diabetes-friendly magnesium (one cup cooked has 39% of your recommended daily intake). In a Harvard University study, people who consumed the most magnesium had a 30% lower risk of diabetes.

For the best benefit: Buy fresh bunches kept under the brightest lights—they’re more vitamin packed, according to a study in the  Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

Bite into beans
Not only are they high in fiber—one cup contains about 15 grams—beans are also rich in resistant starch, which doesn’t break down into sugar and passes through your intestines undigested. Fiber and resistant starch help keep blood sugar levels on an even keel. In fact, a U.S. Department of Agriculture study found that when people consumed a diet rich in resistant starch, their post-meal insulin response slowed up to 38%!

For the best benefit: Opt for darker varieties like black and kidney beans. Those hues indicate a higher concentration of antioxidants. 

Sample some strawberries
The red gems are packed with phytochemicals called polyphenols, which scientists say help boost the production of insulin so blood sugar levels stay stable. What’s more, researchers found eating one cup of strawberries can actually protect you from the blood sugar spikes you get when you eat simple sugar.

For the best benefit: Choose ripe strawberries—they’ll also have the highest concentrations of phytochemicals. 

April 2013