It might sound counterintuitive to say something as saccharine as fruit could help control the amount of sugar in the bloodstream – but it’s true!
We can just chalk it up to another sweet trick of nature. But some fruits hold more of that magic than others.
Blood sugar – or glucose – is a pretty powerful thing. It rides through our arteries and veins to reach every cell of our body, providing them with the energy they need to perform their daily duties.
So how can too much of that be a bad thing?
Well, our bodies are incredibly well-calibrated machines, specifically designed to function at their finest when everything flows just right. But they’re also incredibly interdependent, with each system relying on the other to reach optimal efficiency, and even a small change somewhere can trigger cascading effects that throws everything off down the line.
When it comes to blood sugar, too much can lead to the hardening of blood vessels – a condition called atherosclerosis – which restricts blood flow and can lead to scary side-effects like blood clots and even cardiovascular disease.
Too much sweet stuff in the blood can also impact the way our body produces insulin, a hormone that helps us metabolize all that glucose properly. When our insulin levels are thrown off, our body is never quite sure how much glucose to keep pumping through the blood, which can keep a number of our internal systems off-kilter.
The good news is that glucose comes directly from the food we eat, which is one of the rare things in this world we have a bit of control over.
And while exercise and overall body weight are also important factors in keeping blood sugar levels in check, keeping an eye on our diets is another great way to help stay on track.
So if you’re looking for something sweet to eat that won’t add too much sugar to your veins, keep some of these fruits in mind:
We can learn a lot from this classic teacher’s gift.
Apples are wonderful sources of a particularly magical plant compound called soluble fiber, which attracts water out of our guts and generally works to slow down our entire digestive process.
And that easy pace is essential in keeping blood sugar levels in check, allowing our bodies to more steadily distribute glucose through our veins over longer, more regulated periods of time.
But apples aren’t just a one-trick pony. The wonder fruits are also carriers of other natural goodies like chlorogenic acid, gallic acid and the plant compound quercetin, which have all been linked to better blood sugar levels and protection against developing diabetes.
These starchy fall staples carry just the right kind of carbohydrate to help regulate blood sugar levels.
They’re called polysaccharides, and they help our bodies keep glucose production at a slow and steady pace thanks to the way they’re broken down by our digestive system. (Pumpkins are very low on the Glycemic Index, which measures how quickly sugars are broken down in the blood. A lower score correlates to a longer, more stable digestive process.)
But generous pumpkins don’t stop giving at their flesh. Their delicious seeds also carry some helpful fats and proteins that can further keep blood sugar levels low.
So next time someone complains about too much pumpkin spice, remind them what a wonder the plant really is!
Is there any other fruit that offers more bang for the buck?
Berries are one of the smallest fruits out there but offer a huge amount of bodily benefits, including aid with everything from gut to heart health.
But their vast trove of antioxidants, fiber, minerals and vitamins make them a great source for blood sugar health, too.
Raspberries, in particular, have been linked to a reduced amount of insulin in the blood after a carb-heavy meal, while blueberries, blackberries and strawberries have all been found to help bolster insulin sensitivity overall, and help in removing excess glucose from the blood.
Not just good fat. Great fat.
The omega-3 fatty acids hiding inside all that delicious creamy avocado is a rich source of nutritional power, aiding in nearly everything heart-related.
That includes slowing the development of plaque in the arteries, helping keep blood pressure low, and reducing the circulation of triglycerides – fatty cells that like to stick to blood vessel walls and cause a clogged-up commotion.
All of that is great for someone suffering from high blood sugar in and of itself. (And, indeed, may help keep some of the worse side-effects of diabetes at bay.) But new research on the subject has also shown possible direct links between avocados and low blood sugar levels.
So basically, we should all be paying extra for the guac.
If you want to get rid of some sweet stuff, why not reach for something sour?
The counteractive measures of citrus fruits include the powerful plant compound polyphenol, which combats high blood sugar on a number of fronts, including by preventing the breakdown of starches into simple sugars – a notorious cause of blood sugar spikes.
Polyphenol also helps our bodies produce insulin, and has been found in several studies to help increase insulin sensitivity and improve glucose tolerance, which are huge factors when it comes to protection against developing diabetes.
Oranges and grapefruits are particularly good sources for polyphenol, but citrus fruits overall rank much lower on the Glycemic Index than most other fruits, making any of these bitter bites a sweet choice for blood sugar health.
So with the help of these fruits, it really is possible to have a sweet time, inside and out!