Which Foods Can Help Control Blood Sugar Levels?

Carbohydrates are the main food source that raises blood sugar levels, but that does not mean carbs are off limits!

Healthy Food

By Rachael Derr, RD

Q: “What foods raise your blood sugar? How can I reduce my blood sugar without medication?”

Fantastic question! According to the 2014 National Diabetes Statistic Report, 29.1 million people in the United States are living with diabetes, and 86 million people have pre-diabetes. These individuals must pay attention to their diets in order to maintain normal blood sugar levels. But what causes a rise in blood sugar to begin with?

Carbohydrates are the main food source that raises blood sugar levels, but that does not mean carbs are off limits!

So, what foods contain carbohydrates?

  • Grains like rice, oatmeal, wheat and barley
  • Grain-based foods like bread, cereal, pasta, and crackers
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas, corn and winter squash
  • Fruit and fruit juices
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Dried beans and soy products
  • Sweets and snack foods like sodas, cake, cookies, candy, and chips

Counting your carbs is really the key. Carb counting is a technique that helps to manage blood sugar levels. A registered dietitian can help teach you how to carb count and figure out the right amount of carbohydrates for your body. Carbohydrate intake is very individualized, depending on your height, weight, activity level and any medications you may be on.

As an overall healthy diet for someone with elevated blood sugar levels, focus on eating 1 ½ – 2 cups of fruits and 2-3 cups of vegetables per day. Choose whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean proteins. Be sure to stick to beverages like water or unsweetened iced tea, as sodas and juices will elevate blood sugar levels. Moderate activity most days of the week will also help lower blood sugar levels without medication. And be sure to follow up with your doctor and ask for a referral to a dietitian for an individualized diet plan to keep your blood sugar at appropriate levels.