Keeping blood sugar levels in check can be much easier if you eat the right foods. The trouble is that many people are accustomed to eating foods that can send blood glucose levels soaring. So the biggest glucose-control challenge may be simply remembering which foods help control glucose and which ones don't. Keep in mind that the benefits of learning about glucose-controlling foods and remembering them may save your life. High glucose levels increase risk of cancer,1 cardiovascular disease,2 Alzheimer's disease,3 and death.4
What's really fun is discovering delicious new foods and recipes that keep glucose low. As people move away from foods flavored with sugar, salt, and fat, they enjoy what they eat more than ever: They taste the foods' natural flavors. They love the increased energy they have, too. They are more productive and have more fun—rather than feeling tired and not wanting to do much.
Foods to Choose and Foods to Lose
You'll want to become familiar with the Glycemic Index (GI), which ranks carbohydrate-rich foods for their effect on blood glucose. While not infallible, it is an excellent guide for beginners to find the likely effect of their favorite foods on blood glucose.
Foods to avoid include those rich in easily digested starches or sugars, such as:
- White bread and whole grain bread
- White potatoes
- Most grains-including rice, millet, and oats
- Sugar in any form-for example: brown sugar, agave, and molasses
- Standard pastas, made of flour-no matter what they are flavored with
- Pancakes and waffles
- Rice cakes
- Most fruit juices-except lemon, lime, or grapefruit juice
Foods to Choose
Hundreds of delicious low GI foods await you: Most berries, beans, non-starchy vegetables (kale, collards, bok choy, broccoli, squash, tomatoes, etc.) and nuts work well. If you want to eat meat or fish-choose low fat, high-quality meat and fish that are from non-polluted waters and are high in omega-3s.
Understanding Labels is a Key
When selecting a food to include in your healthful low GI diet, don't be fooled by labels. Some marketers will try to make you think a food is good for glucose control when it isn't at all. Food with "LOW CALORIE" or "NO SUGAR" on the label may still be loaded with high GI starch that will send glucose skyrocketing. Remember: Starch often has as much effect on blood glucose as sugar itself, so always look at the amount of total carbohydrates rather than only total sugars.
If a food has more than 16 grams of total carbohydrate per serving, be cautious - especially if it is a juice, which is extremely easily digested.
And while it's true that some of them-like fructose and high fructose corn syrup-won't raise your blood glucose as much as sucrose (table sugar), they may have even worse effects.5,6
Here is an example of how phrases on labels can trick you.
ENDORSED BY MOMS OF THE HEALTHIEST KIDS
JUST TWO GRAMS OF FAT!
Overall tip: Beware when ingredients are provided in such small print that only Superman could read it. That can mean they are trying to hide something.