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Foods That Don't Raise Blood Sugar Levels

author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.

Blood sugar is a measure of the amount of glucose in the blood. Blood sugar levels can spike to unhealthily high levels due to consumption of particular foods, medications, physical exercise or as a complication of blood sugar disorders, such as diabetes. According to experts at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, specific foods are known to have a mild effect on blood sugar. Though the blood sugar effect of an entire meal is more important than that of one particular food, foods that do not raise blood sugar levels are valuable, nutritious choices for those working to balance blood sugar levels.

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Whole Grains

Sliced whole grain bread
Sliced whole grain bread Photo Credit: momentstock/iStock/Getty Images

Whole grain carbohydrates are dense in nutrients, including dietary fiber, and are associated with healthy blood sugar levels. Studies presented by Oregon State University showed that those who consume an average of three servings of whole grain carbohydrate per day are at significantly reduced risk for type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, another condition related to poor blood sugar management. While white bread, white potatoes and sugary foods increase blood sugar, whole grain carbohydrates do the opposite, according to The Brooklyn Hospital Center. Replace most enriched flour and sugary products with whole grain equivalents. For example, choose whole grain bread rather than white bread, whole grain cereals rather than processed, sugary cereals and switch from enriched pasta and rice to whole grain varieties. In doing so your blood sugar levels may be more manageable and your overall health may improve as well.

Low-fat Dairy Products

Yogurt garnished with blueberries
Yogurt garnished with blueberries Photo Credit: tashka2000/iStock/Getty Images

Low-fat dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, have a mild effect on blood sugar levels, The Brooklyn Hospital Center reports. They are also rich in nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D and are a valuable source of protein. Because a low-fat diet can reduce risk for diabetes, switching from high-fat products such as whole milk and full-fat cheeses to these lower fat foods may be beneficial to your overall health. If you do not tolerate dairy well, soy milk and other lactose-free milk products are available at most grocery stores and provide similar advantages. Diabetes experts at the University of Idaho Extension Program suggest three servings of dairy, the equivalent of 3 cups of low-fat milk or yogurt, per day as a part of a healthy, balanced diet.


Assorted dry beans
Assorted dry beans Photo Credit: Tobias Arhelger/iStock/Getty Images

Beans and other legumes are low in fat, high in fiber and helpful to those who struggle with diabetes. Health care professionals at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics suggest balancing protein and carbohydrate at meals to promote healthy blood sugar levels and recommends at least 8 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight you carry. Avoid foods high in saturated fat, such as red meat and fried foods, which can increase risk for poor heart health, diabetes and obesity. Replace some or all of these foods with leaner options, such as beans, for most wellness and blood sugar benefits.

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