High blood sugar levels are a common problem for people with diabetes and prediabetes. Eating a healthy diet is essential to controlling blood sugar, and there are many foods that can help regulate blood sugar. From broccoli and pumpkin to seafood and fermented foods, here are 15 natural ways to lower blood sugar levels. Broccoli and broccoli sprouts are excellent sources of sulforaphane, a compound that has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels.
Eating cruciferous vegetables has also been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. To maximize the availability of sulforaphane, enjoy raw or lightly steamed broccoli and broccoli sprouts, or add active sources of myrosinase, such as powdered mustard seeds, to cooked broccoli. Seafood, including fish and shellfish, offers a valuable source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Protein helps slow digestion and prevents blood sugar spikes after meals, in addition to increasing the feeling of satiety.
A study of 68 overweight or obese adults who ate 26 ounces (750 grams) of fatty fish per week showed significant improvements in post-meal blood sugar levels, compared to those who consumed lean fish. Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are brightly colored and packed with fiber and antioxidants. Pumpkin is high in carbohydrates (called polysaccharides) which have been studied for their blood sugar regulatory potential. Treatments with pumpkin extracts and powders have been shown to significantly lower blood sugar levels in human and animal studies.
Nuts are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats. A review found that diets that emphasize nuts with an average daily intake of 2 ounces (56 grams) significantly reduced fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a marker of long-term blood sugar control, compared to a control diet, in people with type 2 diabetes. Okra seeds have long been used as a natural remedy to treat diabetes because of their potent blood sugar-lowering properties. Rhamnogalacturonan, the main polysaccharide in okra, has been identified as a powerful antidiabetic compound.
In addition, okra contains the flavonoids isoquercitrin and quercetin 3-O-genthiobioside, which help lower blood sugar by inhibiting certain enzymes. Yogurt is an excellent source of protein and probiotics. In an 8-week study of 57 people with type 2 diabetes, who consumed 7 ounces (200 grams) of 2.5% fatty yogurt containing 1 ounce (30 grams) of flaxseed per day experienced significant reductions in HbA1c, compared to those who consumed plain yogurt. Beans and lentils are excellent sources of protein and fiber.
Many studies have shown that eating beans and lentils can not only benefit blood sugar regulation, but can also help protect against the development of diabetes. Fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut are packed with health-promoting compounds such as probiotics, minerals and antioxidants. A study conducted on 21 people with prediabetes found that eating fermented kimchi for 8 weeks improved glucose tolerance (33%) of participants, while only 9.5% of participants who consumed fresh kimchi showed better glucose tolerance.Chia seeds are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids which can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels. A study conducted on 15 healthy adults showed that participants who received 1 ounce (25 grams) of ground chia seeds along with 2 ounces (50 grams) of a sugar solution had a 39% reduction in blood sugar levels, compared to those who consumed the sugar solution alone.Kale is packed with flavonoid antioxidants such as quercetin and kaempferol which have potent blood sugar-lowering and insulin-sensitizing effects.
Berries such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries can benefit blood sugar control by increasing insulin sensitivity and improving blood glucose removal.Avocados are high in healthy fats which can help lower blood sugar levels and protect against the development of metabolic syndrome.Oats are high in soluble fiber which has been shown to have significant blood sugar-lowering properties. An analysis of 16 studies found that taking oats significantly reduced fasting HbA1c and blood sugar levels compared to control meals.Whole citrus fruits may help improve insulin sensitivity, lower HbA1c and protect against the development of diabetes.Kefir is a yogurt drink rich in probiotics which can help reduce fasting blood sugar levels.Eggs are an excellent source of protein which can help reduce fasting blood sugar levels.A higher intake of specific fruits such as blueberries, grapes and apples has been associated with a significantly lower risk of type 2 diabetes.