Maintaining healthy blood sugar goes far beyond cutting back on table sugar. And believing all you need to do to balance your blood sugar is to stop eating white sugar is kind like thinking all you have to do to avoid heart disease is to stop smoking.
Both are a good start, but there’s so much more to it.
Five of the worst foods for diabetics
Begin by eliminating that refined white sugar, but don’t stop there. The typical Western diet is filled with a bunch of other blood sugar landmines.
Following are five of the worst offenders.
1. White rice:
Whole grains have three parts: the germ, the bran and the endosperm. Each of those parts contains good for you nutrients. And the fiber in whole grains helps keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day, while supporting your heart and other organs.
But while white rice may count as a grain, it certainly doesn’t count as a whole one. The technique they use to process white rice strips away the germ and bran of the grain, and with it most of the fiber and nutrients.
Which is why as far as your body is concerned eating this refined grain is nearly the same as eating white sugar. It causes your blood sugar to spike just like sugar and contributes to insulin resistance.
White rice is one of the worst foods for diabetics, but it’s not a good choice for anyone. Pick organic whole grain brown rice instead. It will provide your meals with far more texture and taste. But most importantly it contains the fiber and nutrients you need to maintain steady blood sugar levels.
2. Fruit yogurt:
Most of us think of yogurt as a healthy choice. And fruit is certainly good for us too. Which is why so many folks who are trying to watch their blood sugar reach for fruit flavored yogurt for a snack.
Unfortunately, that’s a mistake. It turns out “fruit” yogurts are actually one of the worst foods for diabetics. Most use a fruit flavored jelly that contains very little of the original fruit (or fiber) and a ton of sugar. In fact, some yogurts go as high as 22 grams of sugar per serving.
But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on yogurt. Just make it a creamy, tart and delicious plain Greek yogurt instead. The whey is strained out of Greek yogurts which means they have a much healthier protein to carb ratio. And they tend to be naturally lower in sugars, too.
That means they can actually help you avoid those dreaded blood sugar spikes. And for you fruit fans go ahead and toss in a few fresh berries or fruit slices.
3. Agave nectar:
For years, agave nectar has enjoyed a reputation as a diabetic-friendly substitute for processed white sugar. Manufactures and enthusiasts claim that the sweetener—an extract from a flowering lily plant—doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes like other sugars.
But the truth is the agave you find on supermarket shelves is mostly fructose that’s been separated from the fiber and nutrients you’d find in the original food. It bears little resemblance to the real homemade agave nectar that some Mexican natives make. And it’s every bit as processed and dangerous as the high fructose corn syrup you already avoid like the plague.
Agave is one of the worst foods for diabetics because with its undeserved healthy reputation it can lead to unexpected blood sugar spikes. In fact, the Glycemic Research Institute, an internationally accredited testing and certification organization, issued a warning about the syrup years ago saying diabetics can experience “severe and dangerous side effects” from using it. The GRI even banned agave from any further testing after the sweetener caused dangerous reactions in some diabetic volunteers.
When you absolutely need to add a sweet touch try stevia instead. Used in moderation this natural sugar substitute is a far better choice and won’t affect your blood sugar.
4. Diet sodas:
If you’re concerned about your blood sugar chances are you’re already avoiding regular sugar-sweetened sodas. But if you’ve replaced them with diet sodas, it’s time to give those up too. Because, it turns out, diet soda is one of the worst foods for diabetics.
A growing stack of studies, including two ground-breaking ones from Harvard and Yale, have linked diet sodas to higher weight and increased BMI. Experts say when the human body senses a sweet taste on the tongue it anticipates the arrival of high energy sugar. Your brain then kicks off a series of biochemical reactions regardless if that sweet taste actually comes from sugar or a diet soda.
But when the glucose never arrives, your body begins to demand real energy-storing food. This kicks off cravings for more sugary foods, and an unhealthy insulin response. If you’re yearning for a fizzy drink try seltzer with a squeeze of lime or lemon instead.
5. Processed veggie chips:
The popularity of veggie chips in the past few years has skyrocketed. If you go down the chip aisle in the grocery store (which we recommend you avoid doing anyway) you’ll spot sweet-potato chips, taro chips, veggie puffs and more.
They certainly sound like they should be a healthy snack choice. Or at least healthier than regular old potato chips. After all anything that’s made with vegetables has to be better for you, right?
Unfortunately, it’s all marketing. Any health benefit of the sweet potato, the taro, or the vegetables in the veggie puffs have long since disappeared when they’re this heavily processed and deep fried.
No matter how they started by the time they get into that bag they’re a junk fat-filled, high-carb, calorie bomb. And they will do nothing but make your blood sugar soar, making them one of the worst foods for diabetics.
Instead, thinly slice a fresh sweet potato and toss it in some organic, extra-virgin olive oil and your favorite spices. Bake them in a pre-heated 450 degree oven until they’re fork tender… about 20 minutes. Not only will they be better for you, they’ll taste better, too!
If you’re diabetic, pre-diabetic or just want to avoid blood sugar spikes, cut these five foods from your diet and embrace your new, healthy numbers!
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