Many foods are portrayed as good for your blood sugar in advertisements, news, and popular fitness pages.
But many of these foods can actually have negative effects. In fact, even wholesome foods can cause major blood sugar spikes. These are ten common ‘spiky’ criminals that can be difficult to identify, since they may not always be what we expect them to be.
- While the benefits of brown rice may be proven, it is still only better in comparison to white milled rice,
- Fruit juices are handy to carry but extracted juice translates into the extraction of the pulp and the fibre that the skin of the fruit carries,
- While cereal offers some vitamins and fiber to your body, it’s high in carbs, especially the sweetened variety.
Brown rice is a common carbohydrate substitute for those on low-carb diets, but it can still spike your blood glucose levels. One carbohydrate exchange is equal to 15 grams of carbs.
This is equivalent to ⅓ cup of rice. Eating more than a certain amount can have implications for your blood glucose.
Having said that, brown rice may yet be more beneficial than white rice. In a study conducted comparing milled rice and brown rice, the glycemic area and glycemic index in healthy volunteers were, respectively, 19.8% and 12.1% lower in brown rice than in milled rice, while in diabetics, the respective values were 35.2% and 35.6% lower.
While the benefits of brown rice may be proven, it is still only better in comparison to white milled rice. Hence, it is always important to watch your portion sizes and make sure you’re not eating more than needed.
Fresh fruit juice
If you are trying to control your blood sugar, it’s best not to consume fruit juice. Fruit juice provides the body with high levels of carbohydrates and vitamins; however, it doesn’t provide the same level of fiber that fresh fruit does.
One cup of fruit juice contains 45 grams of carbs while one orange gives you 15 grams of carbohydrates.
Fruit juices are handy to carry but extracted juice translates into the extraction of the pulp and the fibre that the skin of the fruit carries. Juicing fruits can cause them to lose some of their nutrients, like potassium and vitamin C.
Antioxidants that are naturally bound to plant fibres are lost during the juicing process. Whole fruits are full of fibre, which helps the body to absorb the sugar slowly. Fibre can keep you fuller for longer. Whole fruits are also good for a healthy gut.
It is important to note that there are many whole fruits that can cause blood glucose spikes.
Having whole fruits can be a healthier alternative to juicing fruits. Certain fruits, such as apples and berries, could be better than juices in the right portions. Vegetable juices can also be good alternatives, as long as they are not replacing vegetables as a whole.
Most people assume packaged oatmeal is a low-carb food, one cup of oatmeal contains 27 grams of carbs, and this is without any added sugar.
While oatmeal can have a beneficial effect on blood glucose levels, according to a study in the journal Nutrients, instant oatmeal is way more processed, and the flavoured varieties often contain loads of added sugar.
The heavily processed type of oatmeals is especially stripped of their fibre to a certain extent, leading to spikes in blood glucose levels.
Instant oatmeal can have detrimental effects. Better alternatives to your morning breakfast could be groats or steel cut oats. Groats are the hulled kernels of cereal grains such as oat, wheat, rye, and barley.
They are whole grains that include the cereal germ, the fiber-rich bran portion of the grain, and the endosperm. These can be paired with protein and healthy fat options such as flax seeds or chia seeds for a nutritious breakfast.
If you’ve ever seen sweet potatoes listed as a healthy food that’s ‘great for your blood glucose,’ it’s time to shed some light on the claim. Sweet potatoes offer a plethora of vitamins and some fiber, but they are high in carbs, just like a white potato.
If you’re trying to choose wholesome carbs, sweet potato is great, but don’t let poorly studied claims fool you. All potatoes contain 30+ grams of starchy carbs and can raise blood sugar if you eat a large serving.
When eaten in moderation, sweet potatoes can be a part of a healthy diet plan. If you are seeking good alternatives, then mashed cauliflower is a great, low carb alternative to both white and sweet potatoes.
It is high in fiber and is a low glycemic index food, having 25 calories per cup and 5 grams of carbs.
One cup of sweetened bran cereal is 40+ grams of carbs and approximately 18 grams of sugar. While cereal offers some vitamins and fiber to your body, it’s high in carbs, especially the sweetened variety.
Whole grain cereals are still very much processed, refined, and extracted and are as likely to spike your blood glucose.
A small piece of whole grain bread/toast with some avocado can be a better alternative.
Raisins and dried fruit are wholesome sources of carbs, but they’re still going to raise your blood sugar. In fact, raisins raise blood sugar so quickly that they can be great for treating low blood sugars! The same goes for dried apricots, mangoes, cranberries, etc.
It is better to consume nuts and seeds as alternatives to dried fruits. They contain fiber, healthy fat, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. Some examples include flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
Whole-wheat bread & pasta
Whole-wheat bread and pasta are certainly delicious and can be a great source of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals for your body.
They do contain more fiber than white bread and pasta, but they still raise your blood sugar faster than other whole foods. It’s best to eat whole-wheat versions in moderation.
Ezekiel bread is produced with several variations of sprouted grains and legumes, including wheat, millet, barley, spelt, soybeans and lentils, and is a great alternative to white and whole-wheat bread. Lettuce wraps can also work effectively as a replacement for bread based rolls.
Zucchini noodles are good replacements for spaghetti. One cup of zucchini contains 60 calories and 14 gr
ams of carbs, out of which 8 grams is fiber. This makes it a good replacement for pasta. Uncooked pasta in comparison has 78 grams of carbs and contains 390 calories.
Cow’s milk is a great source of calcium, but it doesn’t provide the same amount of benefits as unsweetened alternative milks. In fact, cow’s milk contains 12 grams of carbohydrates in just 8 ounces, which can increase blood sugar levels more than you might think.
Low amounts of cow’s milk could be beneficial because of its inherently nutritional nature. Unsweetened almond, flax, and soy milk contain 3 grams of carbs and can be more efficient alternatives.
Yogurt is a great source of calcium and many other minerals, but it’s still high in carbs. Sweetened versions often contain 30+ grams of carbohydrates per serving, making them an unwise choice if you’re trying to control your blood sugar levels.
Unsweetened yogurt can be a better option. It is important, however, to read the label, as many of the benefits that yogurt offers, such as probiotics for your gut, could be lost out due to the processing.
Bananas and grapes
Bananas and grapes are both high in carbohydrates. These are commonly consumed fruits that are known to spike your blood sugar levels when you have them outside of the right portions.
While bananas and grapes contain carbs and raise your blood sugar, it is important to have them in smaller portions as they contain many vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for the body. This might be true not just for bananas and grapes but other fruits as well.
Pairing them with healthy fat and protein can help reduce the spike. Additions such as unsweetened Greek yogurt could be a great addition to portion-controlled bananas or grapes. Other healthier alternatives are berries that have high amounts of fiber and lower sugar content, such as strawberries.
There are some foods that may have a more negative effect on your blood sugar than you know. It is advised that you are made aware of these foods and choose foods that will suit you.
We have given our recommendations as to what you should eat and what you should avoid. Following these will keep your blood sugar in check.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general information and educational purposes only. It neither provides any medical advice nor intends to substitute professional medical opinion on the treatment, diagnosis, prevention or alleviation of any disease, disorder or disability. Always consult with your doctor or qualified healthcare professional about your health condition and/or concerns and before undertaking a new health care regimen including making any dietary or lifestyle changes.