No matter the reason you care about blood sugar, understanding how certain nutrients like carbohydrates affect your body can help you make smart food decisions when it comes to meal or snack time.
Blood Sugar 101
Blood sugar is your body's main source of energy and comes from different foods you consume each day (though the liver and muscles also produce or store blood sugar—but in small amounts).
After eating a snack or meal that contains carbohydrates, the digestive system breaks down its digestible components including glucose, which then enters into your bloodstream.
As blood sugar levels increase, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin that's responsible for balancing blood sugar. Insulin prompts your cells to either absorb blood sugar for energy or store it for later.
Why Is Blood Sugar Balance So Important?
As in life, getting too much, or too little of something can affect your quality of life. Blood sugar is no different. When there is too much glucose in the blood, this could mean one of two things:
- Your body isn't producing enough insulin to regulate sugar
- Your body isn't using insulin properly.
When sugar stays in the blood for extended periods of time, it can cause other health issues to develop.
On the other hand, when blood sugar is too low, you may start to feel tired or light-headed, which can make it difficult to function or focus properly. Therefore, keeping blood sugar in check gives your body's cells and organs the right amount of energy to perform essential tasks and regulate bodily functions.
How to Choose Blood Sugar-Friendly Foods
Because everyone is different, each individual will have a unique glucose response to food.
The good news is there are many types of foods that are blood sugar-friendly. These are typically classified as low glycemic index (GI) foods. The glycemic index assigns a score to food based on its blood sugar impact—between 0 and 100. The higher the score (closer to 100), the faster a particular food will raise your blood sugar after eating.
The GI breaks down its scoring further into three categories:
- Low GI: foods that score between 0-55
- Medium GI: foods that score between 56-69
- High GI: foods that score between 70-100
It's important to remember that you want to balance low GI foods with nutrient-dense ingredients. This ensures you'll receive more nutrients per calorie while still keeping blood sugar in mind.
Let's review 5 food examples that do both!
Top 5 Blood Sugar-Balancing Foods
Peanut Butter (GI score = 14)
Natural peanut butter is considered a low glycemic food that still manages to deliver macro-and micro-nutrients.
On average, a serving size of 2 tablespoons has:
- 2 grams of fiber
- 7 grams of protein
- 57 mg of magnesium
- 0.85 mg of zinc
Fun fact: Natural or low-added sugar peanut butter isn't just meant for sandwiches or apple slices. Because it's easy to melt when cooking or baking, you can easily incorporate this nutrient-dense ingredient into soups, stir fries, and dressing to put over salads.
It also tastes amazing frozen, too, which means you can add peanut butter to your favorite Nice Cream or popsicle recipe.
Nuts (GI score = 0-20)
The majority of nuts boast a low GI score, with peanuts and almonds being on the lower end of the spectrum.
A single serving of almonds has:
- 4 grams of fiber
- 6 grams of protein
- 75mg of calcium
- 7.3 grams of Vitamin E
Because almonds contain a high concentration of fiber, a complex carbohydrate, it helps you feel fuller and cannot be broken down into sugar.
For more fun facts about nuts, hop over to our nutritional article.
Pumpkin Seeds (GI score = 25)
Whether you decide to keep the shell on or off is completely up to you because pumpkin seeds offer a nutrient-dense snack option that has little impact on blood sugar.
A single serving of whole pumpkin seeds offer:
- 5.2 grams of fiber (shelled; 1.8 grams unshelled)
- 8 grams of protein
- 6.6 mg of zinc
- 168 mg of magnesium
Sunflower Seeds (GI score = 35)
Similar to pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds are packed with beneficial nutrients, such as healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidant compounds.
A one-ounce serving has:
- 3 grams of fiber
- 1.08 mg of iron
- 36.6 mg of magnesium
- 5 grams of protein
Find out what else makes seeds both delicious and nutritious!
Blueberries (GI score = 53)
Among the fruits that won't raise blood sugar, blueberries, whether fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried, contain fiber and are low on the glycemic index.
A single serving of blueberries has:
- 4 grams of fiber
- 110 mg of potassium
- 14 mg of Vitamin C
- 29 mcg of Vitamin K
Other Low GI Foods to Add to Your Cart
For more ideas on foods that blend nutrient density with blood sugar stability, we've compiled a quick roundup to aid you on your wellness journey:
Top 5 fruits (GI score < 55)
Top 5 veggies (GI score < 55)
- Brussels sprouts
- Bok Choy
Top 5 nuts (GI score < 55)
- Brazil nuts
Top 5 beans (GI score < 55)
- Kidney beans
- Black beans
- Pinto beans
Want More Blood Sugar-Balancing Foods?
A quick and easy way to balance nutrient-rich ingredients with little impact on blood sugar is grabbing a Good Measure bar! Our snacks are made with delicious ingredients that include pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dried blueberries, dark chocolate, peanut and almond butter, and more!