Diabetes is a common condition – with more than 100 million Americans living with some form of this disease according to the CDC¹, it’s only growing more and more important to understand. And understanding blood sugar is crucial to understanding and managing diabetes.

If you’re living with diabetes, blood sugar is incredibly important to your daily life. Keeping your blood sugar under control, particularly through your diet, is key to managing your health.

When you’re diagnosed with diabetes, blood sugar is at the heart of the issue. Diabetes is a condition in which the body either cannot produce enough insulin, or uses it incorrectly; therefore, glucose, or sugar, collects in the blood. Ensuring your glucose is at a healthy level can be daunting task for anyone who suffers from either of these conditions, as increased blood sugar can result in even more health issues.

One of the best ways to manage your blood sugar is through your diet, as balanced meals can help maintain any diabetic. Choosing the right foods can keep your blood sugar in check – and the wrong foods can seriously impact your health. Here are 12 great foods that any diabetic can opt for that won’t increase blood sugar levels.

1. Avocados

Avocados are delicious, but they’re sometimes considered a fatty food that should only be eaten in moderation. For diabetics, however, avocados are a fantastic choice.

Avocados contain monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are vital to a diet that focuses on keeping blood sugar levels normal. MUFAs enhance insulin sensitivity, according to the American Diabetes Association².

Try adding this yummy green fruit to sandwiches or toast. You can also turn avocados into guacamole for a delicious snack.

2. Whole Grains

Whole grains are a great choice for any diet – they’re a centerpiece of healthy eating. And they’re particularly beneficial for those looking to manage their blood sugar levels.

Reach for whole grain bread versus the refined white stuff to get some whole grains into your diet. Whole grains in general, whether in bread form or other varieties like quinoa or millet, should be added to your grocery list if you are monitoring your glucose. These grains have increased amounts of phytochemicals, nutrients, and fiber which, according to research published in Journal of Cereal Science³, can aid in keep blood sugar regulated.

3. Garlic

Think garlic is nothing more than a tasty seasoning? This little spice packs a lot of flavor and some surprising health benefits, especially for diabetics.

According to research published in Recent Patents on Food, Nutrition, and Agriculture⁴, garlic can potentially assist with blood sugar management. Garlic can decrease fasting blood glucose, or the level your blood sugar is at when you haven’t eaten.

Adding garlic to your diet is also easier than you think: crushed or chopped up, it can be mixed into sauces, dips, and even placed in marinades or added as a spice when cooking.

4. Fish

Protein is vital for any balanced, healthy diet. And here’s a big benefit for diabetics: protein doesn’t affect blood sugar levels as much as other foods according to SFGate5, meaning it’s the perfect food to add to any meal.

Additionally, protein is great at giving you that feeling of “fullness” and satisfaction after a meal. It may be a great option to reach for instead of carb-heavy foods like pasta, rice, or bread that can cause a blood sugar spike.

Fish is a good protein source, with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. It doesn’t contain as much fat as other meats, and it’s great for the heart.

5. Leafy Greens

Eating your vegetables is important when you’re working on controlling your blood sugar. And leafy greens in particular are beneficial – Everyday Health6 reports that consuming 1.35 servings of leafy greens has been linked to a 14 percent decrease in the odds of developing type 2 diabetes.

Kale, chard, and spinach are just some examples of leafy greens that are high in nutrients and fiber, which also happen to help when it comes to blood sugar maintenance. Others include:

  • Lettuce
  • Collards
  • Turnip greens

6. Blackberries and Blueberries

When you’re adding fruit to your diet, make sure to add some blackberries and blueberries into the mix. Both berry types are linked with increased levels of fiber and plenty of antioxidants, and they aren’t thought to increase blood sugar levels quite as much as other fruits do thanks to low sugars.

7. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds have a plethora of health benefits attached to them, including high fiber content, omega-3s, healthy fats, and calcium, and these tiny seeds can also help when it comes to maintaining blood sugar levels.

Working chia seeds into your diet can be easy, too. You can try adding them to smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal, sprinkling them on top of salads, or placing them within bread, muffin, or cookie recipes!

8. Nuts

If you’re looking for a blood sugar friendly snack, grab a handful of nuts – almonds if you can. Almonds are a huge help in particular. when it comes to reducing and regulating blood sugar after eating. A study published in the journal Metabolism7 revealed that those who ate two ounces of almonds daily lowered insulin and fasting glucose levels.

In fact, nuts in general score low all around when it comes to glucose levels. Almonds, pistachios, macadamias, and walnuts make great snack alternatives to chips and crackers when a salty craving hits.

9. Coffee

If you avoid adding too much sugar to your morning cup of coffee, keeping syrups or sugars to a minimum, this hot beverage can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes. A study published in the journal Diabetologia8 suggests that increasing your coffee consumption by a cup daily could decrease chances around developing type 2 diabetes by over 10 percent.

If you’re already living with diabetes, a cup of black coffee can warm you up, increase your energy, and help you keep your blood sugar levels right where they need to be. Just make sure you aren’t adding too many tasty flavors or upping the sugar content.

10. Eggs

Is there anything eggs can’t do? They make the perfect breakfast, lunch, or dinner option, are easy to make, and they don’t negatively impact those who have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Poached, boiled, scrambled or made in the oven, just add some whole grain toast and an avocado on the side for a quick and simple meal made when you have to rush out of the house in a hurry.

Eggs are full of protein, which you already know is great for keeping blood sugar stable. And they’re filling too, which means they’ll keep you from getting hungry again shortly after eating.

11. Legumes

Chickpeas, beans, peas, and lentils all score very low when it comes to glucose levels, and they’re all excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. Legumes are high in protein and very filling, and there’s plenty you can do to work these delicious foods into your diet.

However, it’s important to note that if you are trying to maintain blood sugar levels, avoid legumes packaged with simple starches and sugars – like those canned options in marinades or sauces – as they subsequently increase glucose levels due to the extra ingredients added.

12. Oats

Oats contain B-glucans, Today’s Dietician9 reports, which decrease insulin and glucose responses after eating, help to enhance insulin sensitivity, and aid in glycemic control maintenance. With all of these benefits, your blood sugar will be well under control when you’re working oats into your diet.

Add oats in your diet by indulging in some oatmeal for breakfast or even a snack. There are a variety of bread and muffin options that include oats within, and you can easily find oat options at your local grocery store.