It’s no exaggeration—balancing your blood sugar could be a matter of life or death.
Chronic high blood sugar levels are toxic to your body, destroying organs and blood vessels and paving the way to a heart attack, type 2 diabetes, stroke, dialysis, nerve damage, erectile dysfunction, or even blindness.
The good news? Out-of-control sugar levels can be reined in and regulated with the right foods.
Blood sugar benefit: A groundbreaking study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2010 found a daily dose of the bio-active ingredients from blueberries increases sensitivity to insulin and may reduce the risk of developing diabetes in at-risk individuals.
That’s important because eating too many carbs produces too much insulin, which could lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Blood sugar benefit: Don’t let the fat content of avocados fool you—they’re still good for you! Avocados are full of monounsaturated fat, the kind that helps slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream, prompting less insulin release.
Avocados also contain beta-sitosterol, a compound that could help quell inflammation after an intense workout.
Just limit yourself to one-quarter of an avocado at a time to avoid calorie overload. Or, try avocado oil drizzled on a fresh salad or veggies.
Blood sugar benefit: This ancient gluten-free grain stabilizes blood sugar, manages the effects of diabetes, improves insulin sensitivity, and aids symptoms related to metabolic syndrome;
Including imbalances in cholesterol, higher blood pressure, and extreme rises in blood sugar levels after meals.
Tiny chia seeds are also potent anti-inflammatory agents and contain fiber, magnesium, potassium, folic acid, iron, and calcium.
Blood sugar benefit: A 2003 study in the journal Diabetes Care showed that cinnamon may cause muscle and liver cells to respond more readily to insulin, thereby improving weight loss.
Better response to insulin means better blood sugar balance and, therefore, less insulin released into your body.
Ceylon cinnamon also seems to reduce several risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood sugar and levels of triglycerides, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and total cholesterol.
Just ½ teaspoon a day for 20 days is enough to improve your insulin response and lower blood sugar by up to 20%.
Blood sugar benefit: Mangos may taste sugary sweet, but this delicious fruit may actually lower blood sugar according to research published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolic Insights.
“Our results indicate that daily consumption of 10 grams of freeze-dried mango, which is equivalent to about one-half of a fresh mango [about 100 grams], may help lower blood sugar in obese individuals,”
Explains Edralin Lucas, PhD, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at Oklahoma State University’s College of Human Sciences and lead study author.
Mangos also contain over 20 different vitamins and minerals including vitamins C and A, folate, and fiber. Plus, they land squarely on the Clean 15 list, with 88% of mangos having no pesticide residue.
Blood sugar benefit: According to an animal study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, a food-seasoning mixture containing various spices improved metabolism of both glucose and cholesterol, reducing blood sugar and insulin levels.
Fenugreek seed and turmeric are particularly antidiabetic, but in some studies cumin seed, ginger, mustard, curry leaf, and coriander also show diabetes-fighting properties.
Blood sugar benefit: Olive oil, rich in the same monounsaturated fat found in avocados, prevents not only belly fat accumulation, but also insulin resistance.
Bonus: Olive oil encourages the release of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin.
Blood sugar benefit: A study published in 2008 in the International Journal of Obesity found overweight and obese people given two eggs a day for breakfast lost 65% more weight than those eating a similar breakfast without eggs.
The researchers said eating eggs may control hunger by reducing the post-meal insulin response and control appetite by preventing large fluctuations in both glucose and insulin levels.
Studies also show that people who eat eggs for breakfast eat fewer calories for the next 36 hours.
Blood sugar benefit: Vinegar has been found to blunt blood sugar and insulin increases, as well as heighten the sensation of fullness after a high-carbohydrate meal.
An Arizona State University study found that people who started a meal with a vinegar drink enjoyed better blood sugar and insulin profiles following the meal.
The blood sugar–balancing effect of vinegar seems to work even better in people with prediabetes, compared with people with normal insulin sensitivity.
Look for white or apple cider vinegar, but beware of balsamic—it contains more sugar.
Blood sugar benefit: Cherries contain naturally occurring chemicals called anthocyanins, which could help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that anthocyanins could reduce insulin production by 50%.
Anthocyanin-loaded cherries may also protect against heart disease and cancer.