Foods That Improve Blood Sugar Levels

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Vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet.
Vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet. (Image: vegetables image by cherie from Fotolia.com)

According to the Mayo Clinic, blood sugar levels can be affected not only by how much you eat, but also by when you eat. Blood sugar levels affect both energy and mood. Eating the right type of food can help keep blood sugar at optimal levels. Controlling blood sugar levels is especially important for people with diabetes.

Healthy Carbohydrates

When it comes to blood sugar levels, carbohydrates have a greater influence than fat or protein. Consuming equal amounts of carbohydrates during every snack or mealtime can help maintain a steady blood sugar level throughout the day. Choose complex carbohydrates over simple ones as complex carbohydrates take longer to break down and leave you feeling satisfied longer. Aim to make carbohydrates 45 to 65 percent of your caloric intake every day. Examples of complex carbohydrates are whole grains, oatmeal, brown rice, cereal and whole wheat pasta. Avoid eating refined carbohydrates such as white bread or white rice.

High Fiber Foods

The Mayo Clinic recommends that women should eat a minimum of 20 grams of fiber daily, while men should consume at least 30 grams. Fiber is the part of the food that the body cannot digest and it plays a role in maintaining optimal blood sugar levels. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts. Raspberries, apples and pears rank high in fiber content. Remember to eat the skin of these fruits as they contain nutrients and additional fiber. Vegetables with particularly high fiber content include peas, broccoli and artichokes. Legumes such as lentils, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas and lima beans provide protein and plenty of fiber. Sunflower seeds and almonds are also a source of both protein and fiber.

Lean Protein

Adding protein to a meal can help decrease the rate at which carbohydrates are absorbed into the blood, which leads to lower blood sugar levels. Include low-fat proteins such as lean cuts of meat, chicken, fish, eggs, tofu and turkey. About 15 to 20 percent of your daily calorie intake should come from protein.

Unsaturated Fats

When the body receives fat and excess calories, the result is an increase in blood sugar. Try to reduce your intake of fats as all types of fat are extremely high in calories. Avoid or limit saturated and trans fats such as butter and margarine. Instead select monounsaturated fat, which is found in peanut, olive and canola oil as well as in nuts and avocados. The oil found in nuts is polyunsaturated and is healthier than saturated or trans fats. Sunflower, soy and corn oil all contain polyunsaturated fats. About 20 percent of your daily calories should be in the form of fats.

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