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What are the best foods for lowering blood sugar?

Pass the peas, please. In a study, a diet high in lentils, nuts, peas and other legumes seemed to be more helpful than a diet high in wheat fiber when it came to tamping down blood sugar.

And, lucky for lovers of legumes, beans tend to have a low glycemic index—meaning they are digested slowly by the body and have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar. So much so that when people with type 2 diabetes were told to emphasize legumes in their diet as part of a study, their average blood sugar over time was lower than that of the group who'd been directed to eat more whole grains.

The difference was modest for the two study groups but was still significant enough to translate into better protection from heart disease. Researchers suspect that the difference was because the legume-laden diet had a lower glycemic index—and slightly more fiber—than the diet that emphasized grains. The legume eaters were also encouraged to eat high-fiber fruits and veggies. Bottom line: A low-glycemic-index diet seemed to be best for blood sugar. To get there, you may need to trade that side of brown rice for an occasional bowl of beans.

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

No one food will help lower blood sugar readings. Foods that contain carbohydrate like fruits, starchy vegetables, grains, milk and yogurt will raise blood sugar readings. Carbohydrate containing foods that are higher in fiber or complex carbohydrate will slow down the absorption of carbohydrate into the blood stream; whereas simple carbohydrates like regular soda, sugar, honey, candy and syrup will raise blood sugar readings fairly quickly.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.