If you’ve ever experienced a “sugar crash” or felt your energy wane, chances are, you’ve experienced a dip in blood sugar. And if you have prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, you likely know how important it is to keep your blood sugar levels in check. But is there anything you can do to balance your blood sugar levels naturally? Turns out, certain foods can help you maintain a healthy blood sugar balance. We’ve rounded up seven of the best foods to balance blood sugar and ways you can include them in your diet.
Always follow your doctor’s instructions to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
What is blood sugar?
Glucose, or blood sugar, comes from the food you eat and is your body’s main source of energy.1 When your blood sugar levels rise, your liver produces insulin, a hormone that stimulates your cells to absorb blood sugar. Blood sugar can then be used as energy or stored in the body.2 If your body’s cells stop responding to insulin, it’s known as insulin resistance. Over time, these insulin-resistant cells can’t absorb glucose as well as before. This may cause your blood glucose levels to greatly increase and may eventually lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes, and contribute to other health complications such as heart disease and kidney damage.3
Foods to eat (and avoid) to balance blood sugar levels
Having balanced blood sugar levels may provide you with more consistent energy, help you remain alert throughout the day, and may even support your weight loss efforts. When you eat sugary foods and simple or refined carbohydrates (think processed foods: pastries, candy and soda), they’re rapidly broken down into glucose, causing elevated blood sugar levels. While this might give you a short burst of energy, it will eventually lead to a crash, causing you to reach for other quick fixes like junk food or caffeine to stay awake. But reaching for healthier foods can actually help stop this cycle and stabilize blood sugar!
Check out seven foods that can help balance blood sugar, may help minimize blood sugar spikes and crashes, and are packed with nutrients to help keep you on track with your weight loss goals. While none of these foods should be used as replacements for blood sugar-regulating medications, they’re healthful options for those looking to maintain their blood sugar balance. Bonus: You’ll see all of these foods in meal plans from Jenny Craig or on our Fresh & Free Additions list. Enjoy!
7 Foods That Balance Blood Sugar
Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is a crucial step for people with diabetes. These tasty green stalks contain chromium — an essential mineral that helps insulin transport glucose and may help with insulin level regulation.4,5
Eat it: This versatile non-starchy vegetable is great steamed, boiled or roasted and makes a delicious side dish. Season spears with a bit of pepper and garlic powder and pair them with your next meal.
While research on this spice rack mainstay is mixed, there are studies that indicate it may help lower blood sugar levels. One analysis of eight clinical studies and trials found that cinnamon lowered fasting blood sugar levels in those with Type 2 diabetes.6
Eat it: Sprinkle this fragrant spice on oatmeal, chili or rice and bean dishes for extra flavor. Or, add a little to your morning coffee for a seasonal treat!
3. Club soda
Soft drinks sweetened with sugar and syrups may raise blood sugar levels. Avoid this by making your own low-calorie sparkling drinks with club soda instead! Staying hydrated is a great way to support your overall health and could help you feel satisfied between meals — supporting weight loss. Aim to drink at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
Drink it: Flavor your fizzy water with lemon or lime juice or slices of ginger for a quick and refreshing drink.
4. Leafy greens
Low in carbohydrates and high in fiber, green vegetables are not only nutrient-dense but may also help balance blood sugar levels. The fiber in green veggies may help regulate blood sugar and potentially reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.7,8
Eat it: Because there are so many different greens to choose from, you can get creative at any meal. Spinach pairs well with eggs for breakfast, endive is perfect for dipping, kale can be roasted for a crunchy chip-like snack, and collard greens make it easy to wrap up a meal, like tuna fish wrap.
5. Healthy fats
Research shows the monounsaturated fats found in nuts, avocados and olive oil and polyunsaturated fats in fatty fish, seeds and other vegetable oils may reduce HbA1c, a long-term measure of blood sugar levels.9 A little goes a long way, as these foods can be high in calories. If you’re looking to lose weight, make sure to enjoy these foods in small quantities to stay on track with your goals while enjoying their benefits.
Eat it: Pair a small amount (1 teaspoon) of nut butter with a small apple, or slice up a ¼ of an avocado and add it to your next entrée. A drizzle of olive oil (1 teaspoon) on your salad is another option to include healthy fats into your diet while staying on track with your weight loss goals.
These legumes are complex carbohydrates — which digest more slowly than simple carbs, helping you to avoid a blood sugar spike.10 One of the main reasons why complex carbs digest slower — they’re rich in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber may help improve blood sugar levels and slows the absorption of sugar, according to the Mayo Clinic.11
Eat it: Mix peas into a pasta dish or sprinkle them on top of your salad for a boost of flavor.
7. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar may help to lower blood sugar, according to some studies.12 The vinegar’s sweet-tart flavor makes it a delicious choice for salad dressings without the added sugar of store-bought brands.
Eat it: Pour a small amount of vinegar, oil and mustard (to prevent separation) into a small container with a lid. Shake well and pour over a salad, vegetables, or even use it as a marinade for meats!
By making healthier food choices and exercising, you may be able to better support balanced blood sugar levels.
Did you know that Jenny Craig offers a Type 2 diabetes menu plan for better glycemic control? To learn more about developing healthier eating habits and start working toward your weight loss goals, book your free appointment with a Jenny Craig consultant today!
Nicki is a journalist with expertise in healthy eating and exercise. She is the former editor-in-chief of Competitor Running and managing editor of Women's Running magazines and writes articles and crafts recipes for a variety of websites and publications. She also loves cycling, making music and is wild about cats, dogs and other animals.
Favorite healthy snack: anything with nut butter!
Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, RDN
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
This article contains trusted sources including scientific, peer-reviewed papers. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.