Are there really foods that can help lower blood sugar levels?
Well according to many studies, yes there are!
The main influence on your blood sugar control comes from eating an overall healthy diet, but there are some power foods that can help!
1. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are high in monounsaturated fat, which have been shown to regulate glucose balance and improve insulin sensitivity (1). Nuts are only meant to be eaten in small portions so just have one small handful and chew them well for higher satisfaction. Try combining nuts with carbohydrates as this has been shown to reduce the post meal glucose response (2).
Nutrition Facts: Per half cup (67g): Calories (Energy): 481g Fat: 50.77g Carbohydrate: 9.26g Fiber: 5.8g Sugar: 3.06g Protein: 5.30g.
2. Virgin Olive Oil
Randomized trials (3-5) have shown reduced overall glucose concentrations, decreased fasting glucose, and decreased postprandial glucose from consuming olive oil in the diet. Olive oil contains 56-84% oleic acid and more than 36 phenolic compounds. It is believed that these helps transform the cell membrane and provide increased promotion of GLUT-4 glucose transport into cells.
Nutrition Facts: Per teaspoon (4.5g): Calories (Energy): 40g Fat: 4.50g Carbohydrate: 0.00g Fiber: 0.0g Sugar: 0.00g Protein: 0.00g.
Cinnamon contains polyphenol type-A polymers and some clinical trials have shown that using cinnamon powder capsules can help reduce fasting blood glucose, helping to improve body composition, and improve lipids (6). I wrote about cinnamon in more detail over here.
Nutrition Facts: Per teaspoon (2.6g): Calories (Energy): 6g Fat: 0.03g Carbohydrate: 2.10g Fiber: 1.4g Sugar: 0.06g Protein: 0.10g.
Contain quite a few interesting compounds, including thiosulfinates, phenolics, steroidal and volatile sulfur. All of these help protect against heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Powerful anti-oxidants contained in onions help to mitigate glucose intolerance and reduce oxidative stress and in diabetes animal studies, onions have been shown to directly reduce blood glucose levels (7).
Nutrition Facts: 1 medium onion (110g): Calories (Energy): 44g Fat: 0.11g Carbohydrate: 10.27g Fiber: 1.9g Sugar: 4.66g Protein: 1.21g.
Seaweeds such as wakame, kelp, and flat sheet nori contain loads of soluble fiber that slows down digestion and help modulate appetite. They are also full of minerals and carotenoids called fucoxanthins and fucoidans.
Fucoxanthin helps improve the function of mitochondria and this helps speed up metabolism and reduce blood glucose and insulin levels. It also helps improve insulin sensitivity. Fucoidans are a powerful antioxidant that help decrease inflammation and help suppress lipid accumulation and fat cell differentiation (7).
Nutrition Facts: Kelp 1/4 cup (40g): Calories (Energy): 9g Fat: 0.11g Carbohydrate: 1.91g Fiber: 0.3g Sugar: 0.12g Protein: 0.34g.
6. White Button Mushrooms
A study in rats showed that consumption of white button mushrooms significantly reduced blood glucose concentrations. The mechanisms were attributed to a lectin like molecule that stimulates insulin and glucagon, possibly high fiber content that acts as a barrier to some digestive enzymes, or due to bacterial fermentation in the colon resulting in beneficial production of short chain fatty acids (8).
Nutrition Facts: Per half cup sliced (35g): Calories (Energy): 8g Fat: 0.33g Carbohydrate: 1.14g Fiber: 0.4g Sugar: 0.69g Protein: 1.08g.
Blueberries contain anthocyanins and other polyphenols that act as powerful antioxidants. It is believed that these antioxidants help improve the overall metabolic changes that occur in type 2 diabetes, having positive effects on blood glucose, cholesterol, reduced insulin resistance, could possibly be protective of the pancreas, and help decrease inflammation.
Nutrition Facts: Per half cup (74g): Calories (Energy): 42g Fat: 0.24g Carbohydrate: 10.72g Fiber: 1.8g Sugar: 7.37g Protein: 0.55g.
Include more of these power foods into your daily eating routine. Of course it helps a lot if you eat a really healthy diet every day as well!
That's a pretty convincing list, right? Now go ahead and enjoy these 7 foods, get creative with them in the kitchen, and watch your blood sugar levels improve!