The #1 Snack to Help Lower Blood Sugar, According to a Dietitian
Though you might have heard the phrase before, you might not be as familiar with how blood sugar works. After you eat or drink anything that contains calories, your body breaks down the food into simple glucose molecules. This is the form of energy that all of the cells in your body can use, and the hormone insulin acts like a key to allow glucose to get into our cells. To get the energy to your cells, glucose must travel through your blood, hence the term "blood glucose" (often referred to as blood sugar since glucose is a simple sugar molecule). Therefore, after you eat, your blood sugar will go up. And if your body runs out of glucose from that meal, your blood sugar will fall. This is natural and happens in all of our bodies.
Certain foods can affect our blood sugar levels more than others. For example, foods high in simple or added sugars like soda, candy and highly processed foods can lead to a sharp increase in blood sugar that quickly burns up and falls just as rapidly. Consistent steep spikes and falls of blood glucose can make it harder and harder for the body to produce insulin. Without enough insulin, our blood glucose can be dangerously high, damaging cells. This is what can lead to type 2 diabetes over time.
Luckily for all of us, several foods can help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels. But there is one food that stands alone as the best snack for lower blood sugar: nuts. Nuts are delicious, nutritious and incredibly versatile as far as snack foods go. Plus, they can be stored at room temperature (or in the freezer for longer periods) and are great for grab-and-go snacks.
Different types of nuts have slightly different nutrition profiles, but there are some health benefits that they all share. Nuts are excellent sources of plant-based protein and are high in healthy fats and fiber, making them super filling. Research, such as a 2018 study published in Oncotarget, has found that the combination of healthy fat, protein and fiber in nuts slows down their digestion and, as a result, stabilizes blood sugar response. Nuts are also good sources of vitamins and nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, folate, vitamin B6 and more. Other studies have found that even for people who have diabetes, snacking on about two ounces of nuts daily can improve blood sugar control and lower chronic disease risk.
There are many ways to enjoy this super healthy snack today and reap the benefits. For starters, you can bring a bag of mixed nuts on the go for variety in flavor and texture (try to choose unsalted nuts to help keep your sodium intake in check). If you're feeling more creative and have some extra time, try making one of our homemade spiced nuts recipes like Pizza Pistachios and Rosemary-Garlic Pecans. This will help you use antioxidant-rich spices to amp up the flavor and customize your snacks to your liking.