Exercise and medication are the only things that can bring down blood sugar acutely. However, certain foods will not raise blood glucose as much as others and can help lower long-term fasting glucose levels.

This means that these foods won’t raise a person’s blood sugar and may help them avoid a blood sugar spike. In addition to diet changes, staying or becoming active is also important.

Read on to learn which foods a person can add to their diet plan. A person may prevent prediabetes or type 2 diabetes by adding more of these foods, spices, and drinks to their diet.

People can eat them as healthy alternatives to sugar, carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (GI), or other treats.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are important components of a healthy blood sugar eating plan.

They can improve insulin sensitivity. They may also help increase feelings of satiety and have a healthy impact on blood pressure and inflammation. MUFAs are a key nutrient in avocados.

Studies have shown avocados can lower the risk of metabolic syndrome. This is a group of risk factors that may increase the risk of diabetes. Metabolic syndrome can also raise the risk of blood vessel disease such as heart disease and stroke.

For a unique, diabetes-friendly dessert, a person can make a natural, no-added-sugar, raw avocado chocolate pudding.

Protein helps the body maintain and repair itself. Protein also increases satiety, so relying on protein to feel full instead of bread, rice, or pasta may be a good way for a person to manage their blood sugar.

Fish is a great source of protein. It is low in unhealthy fats and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Options include:

  • salmon
  • trout
  • albacore tuna
  • mackerel
  • halibut

Fish is also quick and easy to prepare: Season a filet with salt, pepper, and lemon and put it into an oven at 425°F (218°C). Bake for 20 minutes until the flesh is flaky.

Garlic has the potential to help manage blood sugar. Reports have shown garlic intake can lower fasting blood glucose, which is a person’s blood sugar level when they haven’t eaten. An older study also suggests that onions have positive effects on blood sugar levels.

Garlic has a very low GI of 10–30, so it won’t increase blood sugar levels. A person can add more garlic into their meals by trying this garlic spread — it can last for a week and replace butter or salad dressing.

Sour cherries have the chemical anthocyanins. Studies have shown that anthocyanins may protect against diabetes and obesity.

A person can eat sour cherries instead of bananas, sweet cherries, or figs. For dessert, they can try this paleo, no-added-sugar cherry crisp. They should use sour cherries because regular cherries have a higher GI score.

The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar reduces certain enzymes in the stomach. One study reported that apple cider vinegar can improve insulin sensitivity after meals.

A person can drink 20 grams (approximately 4 teaspoons) of apple cider vinegar in 40 grams (1/3 cup) of water before they eat to help reduce a spike in blood sugar.

Leafy greens are high in fiber and nutrients such as magnesium and vitamin A. These nutrients can help lower blood sugar. Leafy greens that a person can add to their diet include:

  • spinach
  • lettuce
  • collards
  • turnip greens
  • kale
  • Swiss chard

Eating more leafy greens per day lowers a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to one study.

All leafy greens have a low GI. Spinach even has a glycemic load (GL) of less than 1 per 1 cup.

Chia seeds are beneficial and high in fiber and healthy fats, omega-3s, calcium, and antioxidants. Studies have shown that diets high in chia seeds can help lower a person’s “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides (a type of fat).

Chia seeds have a GI of 30, which doctors consider to be low, and people can easily add them to recipes. The gooey texture works as a thickener in this pudding recipe (without the maple syrup). A person can also try this low-carb pizza crust using chia seeds and cauliflower.

Cacao is the base for chocolatey spreads and treats such as cocoa butter and chocolate. Before confectioners add sugar, it is bitter, like dark chocolate.

Cacao seeds are high in antioxidants. They also contain a flavanol known as epicatechin, which regulates glucose production by activating key proteins. They can help to stabilize blood sugar, even in people who already have diabetes.

A person can replace milk chocolate with dark chocolate that contains 70% or more cacao. They can also use cacao nibs as toppings for yogurt, smoothies, and desserts.

Blackberries and blueberries won’t raise blood sugar levels as much as other fruits. These berries are high in fiber and have the highest concentrations of anthocyanins, which inhibit certain digestive enzymes to slow down digestion.

They also prevent spikes in blood sugar after eating starch-rich meals.

A 2016 review reported that adding blueberries to the diet improved insulin sensitivity in people with insulin resistance. The GL of blueberries is 5. People can try this blueberry peach chia seed parfait.

Almonds can help regulate and reduce rises in blood sugar after meals and prevent diabetes. One 2011 study found people who consumed 2 ounces of almonds per day had lower levels of fasting glucose and insulin.

Another study from 2010 found that almond consumption could increase insulin sensitivity in people with prediabetes.

More recently, a 2018 study shows that almonds and peanuts may improve fasting and post-meal blood glucose levels. However, a 2021 study found an association between nut consumption and increased insulin resistance.

The small amounts of carbohydrates in almonds and other nuts are primarily fiber. A person can roast almonds with cayenne and cumin to create a healthy snack or try this Chinese chicken noodle salad. For the noodle salad, people may want to use kelp (seaweed) or shirataki (yam) noodles, which have low to no carbs.

A person can choose nuts such as pistachios, walnuts, and macadamias instead of crackers and other snacks.

Whole grains (such as millet or quinoa) can be a better choice than “white grains,” which are high in carbohydrates and can cause spikes. Whole grains have higher amounts of fiber, phytochemicals, and nutrients and can help to regulate blood sugar.

One study found that eating high-fiber whole grains or pseudocereals benefited insulin sensitivity and reduced blood glucose response after meals.

Eggs have a bad reputation among some people because they contain a high amount of cholesterol. However, a recent review indicates that eggs are a nutritional, healthy choice. One study suggests that eating 6–12 eggs a week may be safe.

Like all pure protein sources, eggs can make a person feel full and reduce their cravings for food. Hardboiled eggs may work as a satisfying snack or quick breakfast.

To help prevent diabetes and prediabetes through their diet, people should avoid foods that have a high GI score. They should also lower the amount of total carbohydrates and sugar they consume. Low-GI foods are those that have a score of 55 or less.

There are several apps that make it easier to spot healthier eating choices. People can use these to check the carbohydrate and sugar content of foods. This can help them avoid spikes or intake of sugar and carbohydrates. These apps include:

The most important way to avoid the onset of diabetes if a person is insulin resistant is to lose weight, exercise, and eat a balanced, whole foods diet. No single method, food, or workout will take the place of the long-term benefits of a healthy diet.