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What Foods Cause High Blood Sugar Levels?

by
author image Michelle Fisk
Michelle Fisk began writing professionally in 2011. She has been published in the "Physician and Sports Medicine Journal." Her expertise lies in the fields of exercise physiology and nutrition. Fisk holds a Master of Science in kinesiology from Marywood University.
What Foods Cause High Blood Sugar Levels?
A bowl of white rice with teriyaki chicken. Photo Credit runin/iStock/Getty Images

Glucose is sugar from foods that’s formed in your body, used for energy and stored. It's your main energy source, but too much sugar in your blood, known as hyperglycemia, causes serious health consequences. Chronic hyperglycemia damages your blood vessels and tissues and increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, vision and nerve problems, kidney disease and diabetes. Reduce your risk for health problems by minimizing foods in your diet that spike blood sugar levels.

Avoid Refined Grains

Refined grains, including white rice, pastas and breads, are processed to remove their bran and germ, which also removes the fiber. Without fiber, your body converts the carbohydrate more rapidly into glucose, which quickly raises your blood sugar levels. Opt for whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa and whole-wheat breads and pastas. The fiber content causes a slower, steadier increase in blood sugar. Consuming enough fiber also reduces your risk for Type 2 diabetes, constipation, obesity and certain cancers. Select the least-processed whole grain to minimize blood sugar spikes even more. For example, choose steel-cut oats over instant oatmeal.

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Stick With Fresh Fruit

Fruit is always a healthy option, but stick to fresh or frozen fruit. When fruits are dried, the natural sugar content becomes condensed, which spikes blood sugar levels, according to registered dietitian Joy Bauer. The American Diabetes Association states you can enjoy dried fruits occasionally, but keep portion sizes small. Watch out for fresh fruit, too -- according to Harvard School of Public Health, ripe fruit increases blood sugar faster than unripe fruit.

Say No to Dessert

Packaged desserts and snack cakes are very high in added sugars and refined flour. This combination rapidly elevates blood sugar levels and causes inflammation, which prevents insulin from getting glucose out of your bloodstream and into your cells. They also tend to contain minimal nutrients but plenty of fat and sodium, which can lead to weight gain and health complications, particularly if you already have diabetes. Steer clear of candy and syrup, which have a similar effect.

Watch What You Drink

Sugary drinks not only dramatically increase your blood sugar levels, they also provide you with a lot of empty calories. Sugary drinks include sweet tea, sports drinks, soda, lemonade and fruit juice. Fruit juice offers more of a nutritional punch than the others, but it still quickly raises your blood sugar levels and lacks the fiber that whole fruit contains.

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