It's no secret that controlling your blood sugar levels is important, particularly for those who are prediabetic or managing a diabetes diagnosis. Unsteady blood sugar levels over time have even been linked to heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. Given that food directly impacts blood sugar, choosing what to eat can seem daunting—even when it comes to picking an afternoon snack.
Nonetheless, health experts do recommend snacking for steady levels, particularly snacks that have a healthy balance of macronutrients. We asked Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and a member of our medical expert board, to share with us the best snack to eat if you're looking to stabilize your blood sugar levels—and it's a surprisingly easy one to grab.
"The best snack for your blood sugar is an apple with your favorite nut butter," says Young. "The fruit provides fiber and the nut butter provides protein and fat, the perfect combination to keep your blood sugar steady."
Read on, and for more healthy eating tips check out The #1 Best Berry for High Blood Sugar.
Protein, fat, and fiber keep your levels steady.
It's important to get a sufficient amount of the three major macronutrients in your diet—carbohydrates, protein, and fat. However, eating a high amount of carbohydrates is what causes your levels to rise because carbs convert to sugar during digestion and get sent to the bloodstream. While reducing your carbohydrate intake does help with managing blood sugar levels, consuming enough protein and fat can also help with keeping glucose levels steady.
Protein has a minimal effect on blood sugar levels, according to Joslin Diabetes. Foods higher in protein can take up to four hours to be digested, which is a much slower process than carbohydrates. Fat (the healthy kind, like what you would find in nuts and nut butter) also slows down digestion, creating a delayed rise in glucose levels because it takes longer to digest.
While not technically a macronutrient, fiber is an important element of carbohydrates that also benefit those looking to manage glucose levels. Fiber cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, making high-fiber snacks a healthier choice for managing blood sugar.
Apple and peanut butter is a satiating combination.
This winning combination of fiber, protein, and fat are all present when you snack on an apple with nut butter. The fiber comes from the apple—one medium-sized apple contains 4.4 grams of fiber, which is 17% of your recommended daily value (DV). If you choose peanut butter, you get an additional 2 grams of fiber in a serving (2 tablespoons) along with 8 grams of protein (16% DV) and 16 grams of fat (24% DV).
Although some health gurus would claim that almond butter is better for you, these two popular nut butters are nutritionally very similar. Almond butter will clock in a slightly smaller amount of protein (7 grams per 2 tablespoon serving) but a higher amount of fiber with over 3 grams. The fat count is the same.
Whatever type of nut butter you decide, it is still a powerful source of protein and fat that will complement the fiber-rich apple, keeping your blood sugar levels steady and leaving you feeling full for hours to come.