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Glucose Control Can Be Easy

October 2012

By Paul Mcglothin and Meredith Averill

Glucose Control Can Be Easy

Keeping blood sugar levels in check can be much easier if you eat the right foods. The trouble is that many people are accustomed to eating foods that can send blood glucose levels soaring. So the biggest glucose-control challenge may be simply remembering which foods help control glucose and which ones don't. Keep in mind that the benefits of learning about glucose-controlling foods and remembering them may save your life. High glucose levels increase risk of cancer,1 cardiovascular disease,2 Alzheimer's disease,3 and death.4

What's really fun is discovering delicious new foods and recipes that keep glucose low. As people move away from foods flavored with sugar, salt, and fat, they enjoy what they eat more than ever: They taste the foods' natural flavors. They love the increased energy they have, too. They are more productive and have more fun—rather than feeling tired and not wanting to do much.

Foods to Choose and Foods to Lose

You'll want to become familiar with the Glycemic Index (GI), which ranks carbohydrate-rich foods for their effect on blood glucose. While not infallible, it is an excellent guide for beginners to find the likely effect of their favorite foods on blood glucose.

Foods to avoid include those rich in easily digested starches or sugars, such as:

  • Dates
  • White bread and whole grain bread
  • Watermelon
  • White potatoes
  • Most grains-including rice, millet, and oats
  • Sugar in any form-for example: brown sugar, agave, and molasses
  • Standard pastas, made of flour-no matter what they are flavored with
  • Corn
  • Chips
  • Pancakes and waffles
  • Rice cakes
  • Most fruit juices-except lemon, lime, or grapefruit juice
  • Pizza

Foods to Choose

Hundreds of delicious low GI foods await you: Most berries, beans, non-starchy vegetables (kale, collards, bok choy, broccoli, squash, tomatoes, etc.) and nuts work well. If you want to eat meat or fish-choose low fat, high-quality meat and fish that are from non-polluted waters and are high in omega-3s.

Understanding Labels is a Key

When selecting a food to include in your healthful low GI diet, don't be fooled by labels. Some marketers will try to make you think a food is good for glucose control when it isn't at all. Food with "LOW CALORIE" or "NO SUGAR" on the label may still be loaded with high GI starch that will send glucose skyrocketing. Remember: Starch often has as much effect on blood glucose as sugar itself, so always look at the amount of total carbohydrates rather than only total sugars.

If a food has more than 16 grams of total carbohydrate per serving, be cautious - especially if it is a juice, which is extremely easily digested.

And while it's true that some of them-like fructose and high fructose corn syrup-won't raise your blood glucose as much as sucrose (table sugar), they may have even worse effects.5,6

Besides sugar as a listed ingredient, look for the words in the following chart: They are sugar in disguise.
Agave nectar Barley malt syrup Barley malt Beet sugar
Brown sugar Buttered syrup Cane juice Cane juice crystals
Caramel Carob syrup Corn sweetener Corn syrup, or corn
syrup solids
Date sugar Dehydrated cane Juice Dextrose Diastatic malt
Ethyl maltol Fructose Fruit juice Fruit juice concentrate
Glucose solids Golden sugar Golden syrup Grape sugar
Glucose High-fructose corn syrup Honey* Invert sugar
Lactose Maltodextrin Malt syrup Maltose
Mannitol Maple syrup Molasses Raw sugar
Refiner's syrup Rice syrup Saccharose Sorbitol
Sorghum or sorghum syrup Sucrose Sugar Syrup
Treacle Turbinado sugar Xylose Yellow sugar

* Please note that although honey is a high carbohydrate food, its glycemic index is variable depending on the type (GI from 32-85). Some types of honey such as Acacia or Red Gum have been found to have a low glycemic index15

Tricky Labels

Glucose Control Program

Here is an example of how phrases on labels can trick you.






Overall tip: Beware when ingredients are provided in such small print that only Superman could read it. That can mean they are trying to hide something.

Be wary when a product makes claims like "Good-for-You" in its name.
  • Be wary when a product makes claims like "Good-for-You" in its name. This kind of statement is meant to influence your buying decision, not to inform you of its actual quality.
  • Many sly marketers create organizations that sound real, like the MOMS OF THE HEALTHIEST KIDS, when all the organization does (if it exists at all) is endorse whatever the company wants.
  • Low fat (just two grams) is not better than moderate heart-healthy fat-for your arteries or your glucose levels. Related to this: partially hydrogenated fat is a screaming red flag-the type of fat that your body can't process and that will clog your arteries.
  • Look at the total carbohydrates-not only the total sugar.
  • Natural is not the be-all & end-all: Arsenic, after all, is found in nature! Healthful ingredients matter.