Whether you’re in need of late-morning energy, an afternoon pick-me-up, or post-workout fuel, grabbing a snack can be the key to holding you over until your next meal. However, if you have diabetes, prediabetes, or another condition that requires you to be mindful of your blood sugar levels, it’s vital to opt for blood sugar-stabilizing foods.
If you fall into any of the mentioned categories, you’ve likely been advised to steer clear of plenty of foods. Luckily, there is still a range of options that will not only satisfy your hunger but also keep your blood sugar levels in check. According to medical expert board member Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD, the best snacks for blood sugar management include both a protein source and a high-fiber carbohydrate.
“Protein and fiber work to ease the rise in blood sugars at snack time, rather than the sharp blood sugar spike you might experience with refined grains, high added sugars, and/or absence of protein,” she says.
“Apple is a good source of carbohydrates in the form of natural sugar (fructose),” Hembree says. “Dip it in peanut butter to add protein for helping to manage blood sugar.”
A medium-sized apple has 4.8 grams of fiber. This nutrient helps slow down digestion, which prevents your blood sugar from rapidly rising. In addition to being packed with vitamins, apples are also chock-full of polyphenols. These antioxidants have been found to stimulate the pancreas’ release of insulin. This helps the body’s cells absorb sugar, ultimately decreasing blood sugar levels.
Plus, the peanut butter is jam-packed with healthy fats, making this classic snack combination ultra-satisfying.
“Cottage cheese, especially low-fat versions, are a great source of protein that, when paired with fruit like a peach, can help increase fiber intake and stabilize blood sugars,” Hembree says.
Additionally, despite being known for their sweetness, peaches are considered a low-glycemic fruit, scoring a 42 on the glycemic index (GI)—the system that ranks how carbohydrate-containing foods raise blood sugar levels. Foods that have a rating of 55 or lower are considered low-glycemic.
Packed with potassium, vitamin A, and C, this summertime staple fruit also has a slew of health benefits, including supporting heart health, decreasing inflammation, and improving digestion.
While they are on the sweeter side, carrots are a low-carb, non-starchy vegetable, which means they don’t have a significant impact on blood sugar levels.
Aside from offering a source of protein, chickpeas—the star ingredient in hummus—contain healthy fats. These fats help slow down the absorption of carbs, allowing sugar to be released into the bloodstream at a steadier rate.
“Using [hummus] as a dip for a vegetable with good fiber content, like carrots, will help keep blood sugars level,” Hembree says.
In fact, a study published in Nutrition Journal found that white bread released four times more sugar into the blood than hummus did—despite the fact that both foods contain the same amount of carbs.
Not sure which hummus to get? Here are The Best and Worst Hummus Brands—Ranked!.