Those with diabetes, prediabetes, or other conditions affecting blood sugar must eat healthily to maintain a balanced blood sugar level. Some foods can help lower blood sugar levels, while others may be more effective.
Some foods, such as those high in sugar or refined carbohydrates, can cause blood sugar to fluctuate. However, other foods can help regulate blood sugar levels and promote overall health (trusted source, trusted source).
These 17 foods can help you regulate your blood sugar.
Broccoli sprouts and broccoli
Sulforaphane, a type of isothiocyanate, has properties that reduce blood sugar.
The plant chemical produced by broccoli when it is chopped or chewed is due to the reaction between a compound called glucoraphanin and an enzyme called myrosinase, both of which are found in broccoli (trusted source).
The sulforaphane-rich broccoli extract can reduce blood sugar and markers of oxidative damage and improve insulin sensitivity.
Broccoli sprouts contain concentrated amounts of glucosinolates, such as glucoraphanin. They have been shown to promote insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetics and lower blood sugar levels when taken as a powder (trusted sources, trusted source).
To increase the amount of sulforaphane in broccoli, you can eat broccoli or sprouts lightly steamed or raw. You can also add sources of myrosinase to the cooked broccoli by adding mustard seed powder (trusted source).
Kinds of seafood such as fish, shellfish, and other seafood are good sources of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. They may also help to regulate blood sugar levels.
It is crucial to control blood sugar levels, and it slows digestion, prevents blood sugar spikes after meals, and increases the feeling of fullness. It may also help to avoid overeating and encourage excess body fat loss – two essential effects for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. (trusted source).
It has been proven that a high intake of fish such as salmon, sardines, and fatty fish can help regulate blood sugar.
In a study of 68 overweight or obese adults, those who consumed 26 ounces of fatty salmon per week showed significantly improved post-meal levels compared to those who ate lean fish. (trusted source).
Pumpkin seeds and pumpkins
Pumpkin, brightly colored and full of fiber and antioxidants, can help regulate blood sugar. Pumpkin is used in Mexico and Iran as a traditional remedy for diabetes (trusted source).
Pumpkin is high in carbs called polysaccharides, which have been studied for their blood-sugar-regulating potential. In animal and human studies, pumpkin extracts or powders significantly reduced blood sugar levels (trusted source, trusted sources).
More research is required to determine if eating whole pumpkins, whether roasted or steamed, may help lower blood sugar.
Pumpkin Seeds contain healthy fats and protein, making them an excellent choice for controlling blood sugar levels.
In a 2018 study, 40 participants found that eating 2 ounces of pumpkin seeds (65 grams) reduced their blood sugar levels after meals by as much as 35% compared to a control group. (trusted source).
Nuts, nut butter
Eating nuts is an effective way of regulating blood sugar levels.
In a study of 25 people with type 2 diabetes, it was found that eating almonds and peanuts during the day, as part of a low-carb diet, reduced blood sugar levels both at mealtime and after meals (trusted source).
In addition, a review showed that a diet with an emphasis on tree nuts, with an average daily intake of 2 ounces (56 g), significantly reduced fasting glucose and hemoglobin (HbA1c), which is a marker for long-term control of blood sugar, when compared to a control diet in people with type 2 diabetes (trusted source).
Okra can be used as a vegetable or a fruit. It is a good source of polysaccharides, flavonoids, and antioxidants that lower blood sugar (trusted source).
Okra seeds are used in Turkey as a natural treatment for diabetes because of their powerful blood sugar-lowering properties. (trusted source).
Rhamnogalacturonan is the main polysaccharide found in okra, a powerful anti-diabetic compound. Okra also contains flavonoids such as isoquercitrin, quercetin, and 3-O-gentiobioside. These help to reduce blood sugar levels by inhibiting specific enzymes.
Although animal studies have shown that okra is powerfully anti-diabetic, human research is needed.
Flax Seeds contain healthy fats and fiber and are well-known for their benefits. Flax seeds can help lower blood sugar levels.
In an 8-week trial of 57 patients with type 2 diabetes who consumed 1 ounce (30 grams) of flax seeds and 7 ounces of 2.5% fat yogurt, there was a significant drop in HbA1c compared to those who ate plain yogurt. (trusted source).
A review of 25 controlled trials found that flaxseeds consumed whole led to significant improvements in blood sugar control. (trusted source).
Beans and lentils
Beans, lentils, and other legumes are high in magnesium, fiber, and protein; these nutrients can lower blood sugar. The soluble fibers and resistant starches in lentils and beans can help to slow digestion and improve blood sugar responses after meals. (trusted source).
A study of 12 women showed that adding chickpeas or black beans to rice significantly reduced blood sugar levels after the meal, compared to eating rice alone. (trusted source).
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut contain health-promoting compounds, including probiotics and minerals. They have also been linked to improved blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.
In a study of 21 participants with prediabetes, eating fermented kimchi over eight weeks improved glucose toleration in 33% of the participants. Only 9.5% of those who consumed fresh kimchi improved glucose tolerance (trusted source).
A study of 41 people with diabetes showed that a traditional Korean diet, rich in fermented products like kimchi, for 12 weeks resulted in more significant reductions in the HbA1c level than a diet control (trusted source).
Eating chia seeds may help benefit blood sugar control. Researchers have found that chia seeds can help reduce blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.
The review of 17 animal experiments in 2020 concluded that chia seed consumption might improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control and reduce disease risks, including diabetes (trusted source).
A study of 15 healthy adults found that those who consumed a sugar-based solution with 1 ounce of ground chia seed and 2 ounces of chia seeds reduced their blood sugar by 39% compared to those who ate the sugar solution only (trusted source, trusted source).
Kale is often called a ” Superfood,” and with good reason. It contains fiber and flavonoid antioxidants that can help lower blood sugar.
The study, which included 42 Japanese adults, showed that eating 7 or 14 grams of kale with a meal high in carbohydrates significantly reduced post-meal blood glucose levels compared to a placebo. (trusted source).
Researchers have shown that flavonoid antioxidants found in kale (including quercetin, kaempferol, and other antioxidants) can lower blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity.
Many studies have shown that berries can help control blood sugar levels. Berries contain a lot of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and they are an excellent choice for those with blood sugar issues.
In a 2019 study, eating two cups of red raspberries (250 grams) with a meal high in carbohydrates significantly reduced insulin and blood sugar levels after the meal for adults with prediabetes compared to a control group. (trusted source).
Studies have shown that besides raspberries and strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and other berries can improve blood sugar control by improving insulin sensitivity and glucose clearance from blood (trusted source, trusted source, trusted source).
Avocados are not only delicious but also beneficial for controlling blood sugar. It’s rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and healthy fats.
Many studies have shown that avocados can help lower blood sugar and prevent the development of metabolic disease, a group of conditions including high blood pressure, high sugar, and increased chronic disease risk. (trusted source; trusted source; trusted source).
However, many studies that investigated the effects on the blood sugar of avocado consumption were funded by Hass Avocado.
Oats, oat bran
Oats and bran are high in soluble fiber, which reduces blood sugar (trusted source).
A review of 16 studies revealed that eating oats significantly reduced fasting blood glucose and HbA1c levels compared to control meals (trusted source).
A small study of 10 people showed that drinking water with oat bran mixed in with 7 ounces of water (200 mL) before eating white toast significantly reduced blood sugar levels after the meal (trusted source).
Citrus fruits, despite being sweet, may reduce blood sugar levels. Citrus fruits can be classified as low-glycemic fruit, as they do not affect blood sugar levels as much as other fruits such as watermelon or pineapple ( trusted source).
Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit contain fiber and plant compounds, like naringenin (trusted source), which has powerful anti-diabetic properties.
Consuming whole citrus fruit may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce HbA1c. It can also protect you from developing diabetes.
Kefir and Yogurt
Both fermented dairy products, kefir, and yogurt, may help regulate blood glucose. Kefir and yogurt consumption has been linked to better blood sugar control.
One 8-week study of 60 people with type-2 diabetes found that drinking 20 ounces per day (600 mL) of kefir (a probiotic-rich yogurt beverage) reduced HbA1c and fasting blood glucose compared to drinking kefir without probiotics. (trusted source).
Yogurt can also help with blood sugar. In a 4-week study of 32 adults, 5 ounces of yogurt (150 grams) they had daily resulted in improved insulin and blood glucose levels after meals compared to their baseline. (trusted source).
Eggs are a very nutritious food containing many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Several studies have shown that egg consumption is associated with better blood sugar management.
In a study of 42 adults with obesity or overweight and prediabetes, or type 2 diabetics, eating one large egg a day led to a 4.4% reduction in blood sugar levels at fasting and improvements in insulin resistance (trusted source).
In a 14-year study of 7,002 Korean adults who ate eggs two to four times per week or more, the risk of developing diabetes was reduced by 40% compared to eating only one egg per week (trusted source).
Apples are rich in soluble fibers and plant compounds like quercetin and chlorogenic acid. They may also help to reduce blood sugar levels and protect from diabetes (trusted source).
Apples, for example, can help lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetes (trusted source).
A study that included over 187,000 participants found that eating more specific fruits like blueberries, apples, and grapes was associated with a lower risk of diabetes type 2. (trusted source).
A study of 18 women showed that eating an apple 30 minutes before eating rice significantly reduced blood sugar levels after eating it (trusted source).
A healthy diet is important to maintain optimal blood sugar levels. If you are prediabetic, diabetic, or want to reduce your risk, adding the foods above to your diet can help lower your blood sugar.
Keep in mind, however, that factors such as your body weight, activity level, and overall diet are the most important for optimizing blood glucose control and protecting yourself against chronic diseases.