It’s easier than you think to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. Female bodied people are actually only supposed to consume 25g of added sugar per day, according to the American Heart Association, and 36g for male bodied people. It’s really not that much, so I read labels and try to make strategic choices, while keeping things very delicious! I’ve found swaps for foods I love that are just as tasty but have lower sugar content or a lower glycemic index. Of course, we need some sugars in our diet as part of a healthy balanced lifestyle. But did you know that you can start to add more super-powered ingredients to your diet that actively help your body process sugar efficiently? Read on for some of my favorite low-sugar ingredients.
Cinnamon is a magical little spice. It has been shown to decrease blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. In other words, cinnamon greases the wheels of insulin's daily task of moving sugar into your cells effectively. Insulin sensitivity is at the opposite end of the spectrum from insulin resistance, which leads to pre-diabetes and diabetes.
Turmeric is similar to cinnamon in its ability to stabilize blood sugar levels. It has been shown that its active ingredient, curcumin, also increases insulin sensitivity and prevents weight gain associated with excess glucose intake.
Sourdough bread is the preferred bread for those adopting a low-sugar lifestyle. And it's not just because it's delicious. Researchers have found that the sourdough bread fermentation process changes the structure of the carbohydrate molecules in a way that helps to reduce the blood sugar spikes normally associated with other types of yeast bread. Sourdough has a lower glycemic index than other bread, so the sugars enter your bloodstream slower and enable your insulin to work more effectively. The sourdough fermentation process may also produce prebiotics which help aid in digestion.
Chia seeds are yummy, provide texture and crunch, and are super at lowering blood sugar levels and creating more insulin sensitivity. See Cinnamon for more explanation on why insulin sensitivity is important.
Flax Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, & Nuts
Pairing carbohydrates with healthy fats like flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and nuts is crucial to avoiding blood sugar spikes. These fun little add-ins, all in similar ways, help lower blood sugar and provide extra healthy fats to your diet, which also help regulate blood sugar levels.
Oats & Oat Bran
Oats are a wonderful healthy food that nutritionists and doctors have long adored and for good reason. They are very high in soluble fiber, which aids in digestion but also helps regulate blood sugar. Numerous studies have shown that eating oats regularly significantly reduces HbA1c, a blood test designed to track blood sugar over 3 months. So, oats don't simply help the day you eat them, but regular intake helps you stabilize blood sugar levels over time as well.
Beans & Lentils
Not only are beans and lentils delicious and filling and have so much variety, they are also super nutritious! Beans and lentils are high in soluble fiber and resistant starch, meaning they regulate blood sugar by slowing down the digestion process. They are also high in magnesium and protein which can also contribute to blood sugar regulation and help protect against the development of diabetes.
Like dates, berries are a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and thus can also help with blood sugar regulation.
Pairing carbohydrates with healthy fats like avocado can dramatically improve blood sugar regulation. Many studies have shown that avocados can protect against the development of metabolic syndrome, which is a group of conditions that includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excessive abdominal fat, and high cholesterol that increases risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir have been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in several studies.
Citrus fruits are particularly low glycemic when compared to other fruits like watermelon and pineapple. They have significant fiber content and polyphenols that help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
Date Syrup, Pomegranate Syrup, & Date Sugar
Just Date Syrup is clinically proven to have a low glycemic index, meaning this sweetener does not spike your blood sugar to the same levels as cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and more. Just Date products are also packed with nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants. Just Pomegranate Syrup is loaded with antioxidants like flavonoids and anthocyanins that impact blood sugar regulation, and contains 35% less sugar than honey. Just Date Sugar boasts 48 grams of fiber per cup and is thus a significant source of fiber, which is an essential tool to stabilize blood sugar. Just Date Sugar is also known as date powder, as the entire fruit is simply dried and ground, including all the fiber and essential nutrients of the whole date.
If you want to get started with some of these ingredients but don’t know where to begin, our 10-Day Low-Sugar Reset may be the perfect introduction for you. The reset is loaded with 27 low-sugar recipes, low-sugar recommendations, and research and articles. Enjoy!