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Nicole Moore Master Nutrition APD3 min read

5 surprising healthy foods that will spike your blood sugar

Many people with type 2 diabetes swear they're eating a healthy diet but fail to realise they're still consuming foods that spike blood sugar levels. Often, it's a case of being confused by food labels. Sometimes, those marketed as ‘superfoods’ or 'healthy' can be anything but, especially for people with type 2 diabetes.

Clever marketing can lead people to believe they're making the right food choices. For that reason, many people are surprised to learn that seemingly 'healthy' foods can send your blood sugar levels through the roof. As type 2 diabetes is a disease of insulin resistance, avoiding processed foods, fructose and starchy carbohydrates is vital.

To help you out, we've compiled a list of the top 5 'healthy' culprits that commonly mislead even the most unsuspecting types.

1. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is often marketed as an everyday 'superfood' breakfast. However, it's common for many oatmeals (particularly those labelled 'instant' or 'flavoured') to be heavily processed and loaded with carbohydrates and added sugars. Even the ones labelled 'healthy' can be deceiving. Processed oats get digested quickly, causing your blood sugars to rise rapidly (yikes)!

DD recommends: Try Dr Brukner’s Muesli – a clever grain-free brekkie that's prepared with minimal processing, meaning it's digested and metabolised more slowly.

2. Honey

Honey is commonly referred to as a 'natural sugar', and people often naively add it to their breakfast or hot drinks. They think because it's natural, it does less harm than regular table sugar. Technically, honey releases sugar into your blood slower than regular sugar, but at 30% glucose and 40% fructose, it's still a big sugar hit.

DD recommends: Swap honey for a natural fructose-free sweetener like stevia or monk fruit. These will not impact your blood sugar levels and still offer the sweetness you may be used to.

3. Grapes

All fruit contains fructose (sugar) and will cause blood sugar levels to rise. Not all fruits are off-limits, but we recommend that some fruits be eaten more sparingly than others (see the Defeat Diabetes Food List in our program).

Grapes are fruit, so most people think they're healthy. But we like to refer to them as sugar bombs - they have the highest sugar levels of any fruit. So even a tiny cup of grapes will give you a hefty blood sugar spike when you're insulin resistant.

DD recommends: Swap the grapes for some low sugar fruit such as strawberries, raspberries or blackberries to help keep your blood sugars stable. And yes - frozen berries are just as good for you as fresh ones!

4. Sushi

The concept of a sushi roll sounds like the picture of health: rice wrapped around a healthy filling like salmon, avocado or tuna with cucumber, packaged together with the superfood seaweed. Yet sticky white rice is high in complex carbohydrates, often with added sugar. A single sushi roll can contain up to 50g of carbohydrate (12 teaspoons of sugar)!

Soy sauce also contains added sugar, so give it a miss. And don't even mention the deep-fried crumbed chicken or fish that can be found inside the sushi roll, bumping up the carb count even higher (not to mention the carcinogenic seed oils they’re fried in).

DD recommends: Dodge the sushi stand and in favour for an equally satisfying filling lunch – our Three Seed Bread. Just add your favourite topping (we recommend cottage cheese and berries, peanut butter or cream cheese and ham for long-lasting fullness). Or, if the sushi is calling you, opt for fresh sashimi instead, full of omega-3, healthy fats and proteins, minus the sugars of regular sushi.

5. Açaí Bowls

Açaí bowls are often promoted as healthy breakfast bowls; you now see them in many health food shops and cafes. Açaí fruits themselves are low in sugar, only 2 to 3 grams of carbohydrate per 100g, less than a teaspoon of sugar. Açaí berries are superfoods containing high levels of antioxidants. However, they are pretty bitter, so sugar-containing ingredients are added to mask the bitterness, boosting the sugar content.

DD recommends: Fill up with our Yoghurt, Nuts and Raspberries recipe – a refreshing and filling classic brekkie combo you can make your way.

The takeaway

Research shows that higher carbohydrate foods spike blood sugar levels. Reducing our carb intake by limiting fruit, bread, pasta, rice, potato, cereals, honey, and added sugars is the best option for people with type 2 diabetes. Eating a low carb diet with plenty of healthy fats, quality protein, and full-fat dairy foods will help to avoid blood sugar spikes.

Discover how easy a low carb lifestyle can be with the help of leading Australian doctors and dietitians through the Defeat Diabetes Program.

Join the leading evidence-based, doctor-led program transforming the health of Australians. Start your free trial today.

Start your free trial here.