How To Reduce Blood Sugar Level By Diet – By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD on August 10, 2020 — Clinically reviewed by Grant Tinsley, Ph.D., CSCS, *D, CISSN, Nutrition
People with prediabetes, diabetes, or other conditions that affect blood sugar need a healthy diet to maintain balanced blood sugar levels. Several foods can help lower your blood sugar, but some may be more effective than others.
Although factors such as body weight, activity, stress, and genetics also play a role in blood sugar maintenance, eating a healthy diet is important for blood sugar control (
While some foods, including foods high in added sugar and refined carbohydrates, can affect blood sugar fluctuations, others can improve blood sugar control while improving overall health (
This plant chemical is produced when broccoli is cut or chewed as a result of a reaction between a glucosinolate compound called glucoraphanin and the enzyme myrosinase, both of which are concentrated in broccoli (5).
Test-tube, animal, and human studies show that sulforaphane-rich broccoli extract has potent antidiabetic effects, helping to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar and symptoms of oxidative stress (
Broccoli sprouts are a concentrated source of glucosinolates such as glucoraphanin and have been shown to help promote insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes when taken as a powder or extract.
Remember, the best way to increase sulforaphane absorption is to enjoy broccoli and broccoli sprouts raw or lightly steamed, or to add active sources of myrosinase such as mustard powder to cooked broccoli (
Seafood, including fish and shellfish, provides an important source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can help control blood sugar levels.
Protein is important for blood sugar control. It helps to slow down digestion and prevent blood sugar from rising after a meal, as well as increasing feelings of satiety. It can also help prevent overeating and promote the loss of excess body fat, two important outcomes for healthy blood sugar levels (
A diet high in fatty fish such as salmon and sardines has been shown to help improve blood sugar control.
For example, a study of 68 overweight or obese adults who ate 26 ounces (750 grams) of oily fish per week had a significant improvement in blood sugar levels after a meal compared to those who ate lean fish (
Brightly colored and full of fiber and antioxidants, pumpkin is a great choice for blood sugar control. In fact, pumpkin is used as a traditional medicine for diabetes in many countries such as Mexico and Iran (
Pumpkin is full of carbohydrates called polysaccharides, which have been studied for their ability to control blood sugar. Treatment with pumpkin extracts and powders has been shown to significantly lower blood sugar levels in both human and animal studies (
However, more research is needed to determine how whole pumpkin, such as when eaten roasted or steamed, may affect blood sugar.
Pumpkin seeds are full of healthy fats and protein, making them an excellent choice for blood sugar control.
A 2018 study in 40 people found that eating 2 ounces (65 grams) of pumpkin seeds lowered postprandial blood sugar by up to 35%, compared to a control group (
A study of 25 people with type 2 diabetes showed that eating nuts and almonds throughout the day as part of a low-carb diet reduced fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels.
In addition, the review found that a diet emphasizing nuts with a daily intake of 2 ounces (56 grams) significantly reduced immediate blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a marker of long-term blood sugar control, compared with a control diet, people with type 2 diabetes (
Okra is a fruit that is often used as a vegetable. It is a rich source of blood sugar-lowering compounds such as polysaccharides and flavonoid antioxidants (
In Turkey, okra seeds have long been used as a natural remedy for diabetes due to their powerful blood sugar-lowering properties (
Rhamnogalacturonan, the main polysaccharide in okra, has been identified as a potent antidiabetic compound. Okra also contains the flavonoids isoquercitrin and quercetin 3-O-gentiobioside, which help lower blood sugar by inhibiting certain enzymes (
Flaxseeds are rich in fiber and healthy fats and are well known for their health benefits. Specifically, flax seeds can help lower blood sugar levels.
In an 8-week study of 57 people with type 2 diabetes, those who ate 7 ounces (200 grams) of 2.5% fat yogurt containing 1 ounce (30 grams) of flaxseed per day had a greater decline of HbA1c compared to those who consumed plain yogurt (
In addition, a review of 25 controlled trials found that eating flaxseed led to significant improvements in blood sugar control (
Beans and lentils are rich in nutrients such as magnesium, fiber and protein that can help lower blood sugar. They are very high in soluble fiber and resistant starch, which helps slow digestion and may improve the blood sugar response after a meal (
For example, a study of 12 women showed that adding black beans or chickpeas to a rice meal significantly reduced blood sugar levels after a meal compared to eating rice alone.
Many other studies show that eating beans and lentils not only benefits blood sugar control, but may also help prevent the development of diabetes (
Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut are full of health-promoting compounds, including probiotics, minerals and antioxidants, and their consumption has been linked to improved blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.
A study of 21 people with prediabetes found that eating fermented kimchi for 8 weeks improved glucose tolerance in 33% of participants, while only 9.5% of participants eating fresh kimchi showed improved glucose tolerance.
Another study in 41 people with diabetes showed that following a traditional Korean diet rich in fermented foods such as kimchi for 12 weeks resulted in greater reductions in HbA1c than a control diet.
Eating chia seeds can help control blood sugar. Research has linked the consumption of chia seeds to lowered blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity.
A 2020 review of 17 animal studies concluded that chia seeds may help improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, as well as reduce the risk of disease, including the risk of diabetes.
Also, a study of 15 healthy adults showed that participants who received 1 ounce (25 grams) of ground chia seeds and 2 ounces (50 grams) of sugar solution had a 39% reduction in blood sugar compared to those who consume alcohol. only sugar solution (
Kale is often described as a “superfood”—and for good reason. It’s full of compounds that can help lower blood sugar levels, including fiber and flavonoid antioxidants.
A study involving 42 Japanese adults showed that eating 7 or 14 grams of kale and a high-carbohydrate meal significantly reduced postprandial blood sugar levels compared to a placebo.
Research shows that the flavonoid antioxidants found in cabbage, including quercetin and kaempferol, have powerful blood sugar-lowering and insulin-sensitizing effects.
Many studies have linked eating berries to improved blood sugar control. Berries are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and are an excellent choice for people with problems with blood sugar control.
A 2019 study found that eating 2 cups (250 grams) of red berries with a high-carbohydrate meal significantly reduced postprandial insulin and blood sugar in adults with prediabetes, compared to a control group (
In addition to raspberries, studies show that strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries can help control blood sugar by improving insulin sensitivity and improving blood sugar release (
In addition to being creamy and delicious, avocados can provide important benefits for blood sugar control. They are rich in healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and adding them to the diet has been shown to improve blood sugar levels.
Many studies have found that avocados can help lower blood sugar levels and protect against the development of metabolic syndrome, which is a group of conditions, including high blood pressure and high blood sugar, that increase the risk of chronic diseases.
Note, however, that many of the studies examining the effects of avocados on blood sugar levels were funded by the Hass Avocado Board, which may have influenced the characteristics of the studies (
Including oats and oat bran in your diet can help improve blood sugar levels due to their high content of soluble fiber, which has been shown to have important blood sugar-lowering properties (
An analysis of 16 studies found that oat intake significantly reduced HbA1c and fasting blood sugar levels compared to a control diet.
In addition, a small study in 10 people found that drinking 7 ounces (200 ml) of water mixed with 1 ounce (27.3 grams) of oat bran before eating white bread significantly reduced postprandial blood sugar, compared to drinking of plain water (
Although many citrus fruits are delicious, research shows that they can help lower blood sugar levels. Citrus fruits are considered low glycemic index fruits because they do not affect blood sugar like other types of fruits such as watermelon and pineapple (
Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit are full of fiber and contain plant compounds like naringenin, a polyphenol with antidiabetic potential (
Eating citrus fruits can help improve insulin sensitivity, lower HbA1c,
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