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Foods That Lower Blood Sugar

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  • Eat your way out

    Eat your way out

    Prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar is higher than what’s considered normal, but not as high as those with diabetes.

    It’s estimated that one out of every three American adults has prediabetes.

    Losing weight and increasing exercise are the most effective ways to prevent prediabetes from becoming type 2 diabetes. But studies show that eating certain foods may also help lower blood sugar.

    Seasoning your food right, eating certain fruits, and eating the right kind of fats may help you stave off diabetes. 

    Click through the slideshow for a list of healthful items to start adding to your regular diet.

    Want more info like this? Sign up for our diabetes newsletter and get resources delivered right to your inbox »

  • Spice it up: Cinnamon

    Spice it up: Cinnamon

    You may think of cinnamon and sugar together on toast. But cinnamon is effective in reducing blood sugar and reducing the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. An analysis of several studies showed that both whole cinnamon and cinnamon extracts lower fasting blood glucose.

    Another study echoed that finding. It discovered that cinnamon reduced fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and “bad” LDL cholesterol, while raising “good” HDL cholesterol.

    But beware. There are several different kinds of cinnamon that produce different results. Saigon cinnamon contains high levels of coumarin, a natural ingredient linked to potential liver damage. Ceylon cinnamon may be safer. Taking large doses of cinnamon can be dangerous, though. Talk to your doctor before starting any supplement or eating plan.

  • Geek out: Fenugreek

    Geek out: Fenugreek

    Fenugreek is a spice whose leaves and seeds are commonly used in South Asian food. Fenugreek seed is related to beans. It’s used as a supplement for nursing mothers, and in a wide range of herbal medicines.

    A review of herbal food supplements found compelling evidence that fenugreek lowers blood sugar levels in people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as those with prediabetes.

    The fiber in fenugreek seeds is effective in slowing down digestion of carbohydrates. This may explain its effect on blood sugar. It’s also full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Fenugreek can be taken as a pill, but it also can be taken as a tea or added to a wide variety of tasty recipes.

  • Vampires beware: Garlic

    Vampires beware: Garlic

    Garlic has been used for years to lower cholesterol levels (and ward off those pesky vampires). But it also shows promise for lowering blood sugar. A study in rats and a study in rabbits showed that garlic extracts may lower blood sugar. Garlic extracts increased the amount of insulin available in people with diabetes.

    Similar studies have shown that onions also have positive effects on blood sugar. Despite the risk of bad breath, garlic and onions make food taste good. And it turns out that they’re good for you, too. So go ahead and order that garlicky pesto. Garlic and the monounsaturated fats in the pine nuts are great for your blood sugar.

  • Friendly fats: Avocados and nuts

    Friendly fats: Avocados and nuts

    Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are important components of a healthy blood sugar eating plan. MUFAs are a key nutrient in some fabulous foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, flax, and olive oil.

    Studies have shown that avocados can lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of illnesses including diabetes. Studies comparing a high carbohydrate diet with a diet high in MUFAs showed that MUFAs improve fasting and average blood glucose. They also lower insulin resistance. This is a part of prediabetes where the body’s cells don’t respond to the insulin that the body makes.

    MUFAs also increase feelings of satisfaction after eating. And they have a healthy impact on blood pressure and inflammation.

  • Eat your colors: Hues of blue(berries)

    Eat your colors: Hues of blue(berries)

    Anthocyanins are nutrients found in colorful plants, especially in vegetables and fruits. They’re also found in tea, honey, wine, nuts, olive oil, and chocolate. Blue, purple, or red-skinned fruits have the highest concentrations. Blackberries and blueberries are the biggest sources of anthocyanins.

    Blueberries are also a great source of soluble fiber and a number of other important nutrients. One study reported the benefits of adding blueberries to the diet of obese people who had prediabetes. After a couple of blueberry smoothies a day for six weeks, insulin sensitivity improved.

    The nutrients found in blueberries don’t just improve insulin sensitivity. They directly affect blood sugar after a meal. Anthocyanins inhibit certain digestive enzymes. This slows down digestion and prevents spikes in blood sugar after starch-rich meals.

  • Eat your colors: Cherry reds

    Eat your colors: Cherry reds

    Cherries, especially tart cherries and dark sweet cherries, are full of anthocyanins. One study concluded that women who ate diets higher in anthocyanins had less insulin resistance and lower levels of inflammation.

    Insulin resistance prevents insulin from working properly to control blood sugar in normal ranges. Eating a diet high in anthocyanins can mean improved use of insulin and lower blood sugars

  • A spoonful of vinegar makes the sugar go down

    A spoonful of vinegar makes the sugar go down

    Apple cider vinegar has been popular in health food circles for a long time. It seems there is something to the hype. The acetic acid in vinegar reduces certain enzymes in the stomach.

    One study reported that drinking a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water before eating has health benefits. It helped increase sensitivity to insulin and reduced a spike in blood sugar after eating starchy food in those with prediabetes as well as those with type 2 diabetes.

  • Coffee and beyond

    Coffee and beyond

    Numerous other foods may help your efforts to reduce blood sugar levels. This may include chia seeds, barley, lemons, and sweet potatoes. There’s even a study suggesting that increasing your coffee intake by one cup a day may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by more than 10 percent.

    But the most important way to avoid the onset of diabetes if you’re insulin resistant is to lose weight and exercise. No one food or supplement is going to take the place of the long-term benefits of weight loss and exercise.

    Still, a pinch of cinnamon in your morning coffee and a bowl of blueberries might be a good way to start the day!