Integrated Health Center
of Inland Empire
of Inland Empire
Maintaining healthy levels can be challenging when you have insulin resistance or impaired glucose metabolism like most diabetics. For a healthy individual without diabetes, carbohydrates are effectively broken down into glucose and transported to cells that will use it for fuel and use glucose stores (glycogen) and fat for fuel in between meals. However, having diabetes weakens your body’s ability to utilize glucose and fats properly causing you to feel lethargic, light-headed, and shaky between meals.
As a person with diabetes, you are constantly working to balance your blood sugar. However, insulin resistance and an impaired glucose metabolism cause reduced insulin production in the pancreas and damaged cell-receptors that make insulin reception much more difficult. Because of these difficulties, grabbing any high-carb and fast-digesting snack has the potential to cause blood sugar spikes that cannot be metabolized properly.
The trick to finding the best grab-and-go snack is to pay attention to the nutrients and fiber content. Ideal snack choices should be rich in fat and protein, low in carbs, and also contain fiber to slow the digestion process, which will allow your pancreas and cells more time and opportunity to transport glucose to energy-hungry cells.
Finding the perfect in-between-meals snacks is not as hard as it sounds. There are quite a few options that will easily fit your busy lifestyle, keeping you from getting sidelined by uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
Why we’re nuts for nuts – First of all, nuts are an excellent source of protein, fats, fiber, and carbs. Secondly, nuts have been shown to actually IMPROVE inflammation because they contain polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are well-known natural anti-inflammatories.1
Get a boost of micronutrients!
Many nuts are rich in micronutrients such as magnesium and zinc, which is essential for immune function and glucose sensitivity, traits that are commonly low in people with diabetes.2,3 Almonds are also great for magnesium, and cashews are a great source of zinc!
Brazil nuts, walnuts, and macadamia nuts are among the nuts with higher fat content, while chestnuts and cashews have more carbohydrates. Almonds and pistachios fall somewhere in the middle and have been shown to reduce blood sugar levels when eaten every day for one to four weeks, respectively.4,5 That being said, most of the carbohydrates in nuts are fiber, which will not raise blood sugar and will slow digestion as well as reduce inflammation. Keep your blood sugar levels in check by making some mixed nut bags to keep in the car, at the office, or in your bag so as not to be caught off guard when hunger strikes.
Low on carbohydrates, high on fiber (13.5 grams per avocado) and water, are what make avocados one of our favorite blood-sugar-friendly snacks. Avocados are also an exceptional choice for unsaturated fat and vitamin C, another micronutrient that is typically found in low quantities in those with diabetes but is essential for healthy immune function.6 Eat it as is, or make a quick batch of guacamole for dipping your fiber-rich veggies such as cucumber slices, celery sticks, or homemade sweet potato chips!
No yolks about it, we’re crazy for hard-boiled eggs. One large hard-boiled egg alone contains about seven grams of protein, five grams of fat, and under one gram of carbohydrates. People who have diabetes will reap the impressive benefits of the egg yolk!7 The nutrient-rich golden center of the egg contains a variety of B vitamins, of which diabetics typically have lower levels. A few lesser-known but just as important nutrients that are found in the egg’s yolk is chromium and biotin. These two nutrients are critical to insulin and glucose metabolic activity. Multiple studies have shown the positive effects both biotin and chromium can have on improved blood sugar regulation in people with diabetes.8,9
Replace your high-carb wraps and tortillas with minimally processed organic turkey deli meat that is free from nitrates. Turkey is an excellent source of many B-vitamins, protein, and it contains a healthy amount of zinc and magnesium. Choose from a variety of options to create your turkey wrap such as cucumber spears, paleo mayonnaise, avocado, nitrate-free bacon, and lettuce. Any way you wrap it, this low-carb, high-fiber snack is rich in micronutrient-packed veggies perfect for maintaining your blood sugar levels.
A rich source of protein, fat, and naturally low in carbohydrates, beef jerky is an excellent snack option as long as you choose the right brand or decide to make your own. Quality beef jerky is loaded with zinc, iron, and B vitamins as well as copper, phosphorus, and choline!10 But beware – not all jerky is created equal. Many familiar brands are made with feedlot beef and processed with toxic additives and preservatives. Your best bet is to buy grass-fed beef selections. A more budget-friendly option would be to make your own with thinly sliced, high-quality, organic, and grass-fed beef.
Another no-effort snack (and isn’t that we’re looking for?) is the glorious seed. Seeds contain plenty of micronutrients, healthy fats, and proteins to stave off those hunger pangs for hours. Most seeds are rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, selenium, and manganese. Seeds are also jam-packed with those anti-inflammatory fats, omega-3s.
Some of our favorite seeds for conquering the blood sugar battle are:
The optimal way to eat seeds is raw; however, sprouting and low-heat roasting can provide tasty variations on this healthy snack.
Fruits and vegetables have everything you need for the perfect on-the-go snack. They are packed with detoxifying fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals while also being moderate to low in calories. This means you can eat more, leaving you full and nourished without over-consuming energy. Vegetables and fruits vary in nutritional content; however, one crucial component they share are flavonoids. Flavonoids are “phytochemicals” responsible for the bright colors of many plant foods; they are also antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and support proper cardiovascular and nervous system functioning.12
Many fruits and veggies contain high levels of sugar, so be conscientious of your choices. We recommend eating a variety of greens, brightly colored vegetables like peppers, and sulfur-rich options such as cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy, broccoli, and cauliflower. Fruits such as berries, green apples, coconut, olives, lemon, and avocados are excellent choices for managing your high blood sugar. Plants such as potatoes, corn, pineapple, pears, banana, watermelon, and red apples should be avoided due to their high sugar and starch contents.
Maintaining blood sugar levels doesn’t have to be a frustrating balancing act. Making the right choices and meal-prepping beforehand can make a huge difference in your on-the-go diabetes game.
Now get out there, and don’t forget your snacks!
1. Casas R, Sacanella E, et al. The effects of the mediterranean diet on biomarkers of vascular wall inflammation and plaque vulnerability in subjects with high risk for cardiovascular disease. A randomized trial. PLoS One. 2014; 9:e100084.
2. Ceriello A, Giugliano D, Dello Russo P, Passariello N. Hypomagnesemia in relation to diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes Care. 1982;5:558-9.
3. Kinlaw WB, Levine AS, Morley JE, Silvis SE, McClain CJ. Abnormal zinc metabolism in type II diabetes mellitus. Am J Med. 1983;75:273-7.
4. Cohen AE, et al. Almond ingestion at mealtime reduces postprandial glycemia and chronic ingestion reduces hemoglobin A1c in individuals with well-controlled type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metab Clin Exp.2011;60:1312-1317.
5. Sauder KA, McCrea CE, Ulbrecht JS, Kris-Etherton PM, West SG. Effects of pistachios on the lipid/lipoprotein profile, glycemic control, inflammation, and endothelial function in type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial. Metab Clin Exp. 2015;64:1521-1529.
6. Cunningham J, Ellis S, McVeigh K, Levine R, Calles-Escandon J. Reduced mononuclear leukocyte ascorbic acid content in adults with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus consuming adequate dietary vitamin C. Metabolism. 1991;40:146-9.
7. Gaby, A. Nutritional Medicine. Concord, NH: Fritz Perlberg Publishing, 2017.
8. Kim DS, Kim TW, Park IK, Kang JS, Om AS. Effects of chromium picolinate supplementation on insulin sensitivity, serum lipids, and body weight in dexamethasone-treated rats. Metabolism. 2002;51:589-94.
9. Dakshinamurti K, Modi VV, Mistry SP. Some aspects of carbohydrates metabolism in biotin-deficient rats. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1968;127:396-400.
10. Rial SA, Karelis AD, Bergeron K-F, Mounier C. Gut microbiota and metabolic health: the potential beneficial effects of a medium chain triglyceride diet in obese individuals. Nutrients. 2016;8:281.
11. Akrami A, Nikaein F, Babajafari S, Faghih S, Yarmohammadi H. Comparison of the effects of flaxseed oil and sunflower seed oil consumption on serum glucose, lipid profile, blood pressure, and lipid peroxidation in patients with metabolic syndrome. J Clin Lipidol. 2018;12:70-77.
12. Tangvarasittichai S. Oxidative stress, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and type 2 diabetes mellitus. World J Diabetes. 2015;6:456-480.
13. Liu RH. Health-promoting components of fruits and vegetables in the diet. Adv Nutr. 2013;4:384S-392S.