8 Healthy Snacks that Won't Raise Blood Sugar

Prevent the roller-coaster ride of a blood sugar spikes and crashes with these easy, nutritious snack ideas.

Snacks sometimes get the short shrift: You're oh-so hungry (maybe even hangry) and you seek out something edible, convenient, and quick—and then eat it without much thought. Instead, practice self-care by being more intentional about your food intake. Seek snacks that include at least one super-satisfying nutrient like protein, fiber, or a good-for-you fat—and you'll be that much more likely to ward off hunger until your next meal. Also, those nutrients independently and collectively will help to keep your blood sugar from quickly spiking and later crashing. In an ideal world, a snack also won't be overly carbohydrate-heavy. A diabetes-friendly snack is about 50 to 150 calories per serving, and 15 grams or under of carbohydrates.

Remember, too, that snacks are a great opportunity to squeeze in more healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, or important nutrients like healthy fats, fiber, protein, or disease-fighting phytochemicals—and that's for everyone, whether or not you have diabetes, or are mindful about your blood sugar level.

Healthy Snacks that Won't Raise Blood Sugar

With this advice in mind, we've pulled together a list of eight snacks for people with diabetes to buy or make at home.

1. Broccoli

Hear us out, you don't just have to eat it plain (though, good for you, if you enjoy that). A cup of raw broccoli clocks in at just 6 grams of carbohydrate (and 2 grams of fiber, which leaves you with just 4 grams net carbs if you're counting net carbs). That low carb count automatically makes broccoli diabetes-friendly. There's also preliminary research that shows a compound in broccoli may improve both short- and long-term blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. The compound, called sulforaphane, is one that also has other health benefits like anti-cancer properties, mopping up harmful free radicals in your body, and promoting liver health.

2. Cheese Crisps

"Sometimes it's a challenge to find diabetes-friendly snacks that are portable," says Christopher Mohr, RD. Enter cheese crisps, which are high in protein, low in carbs, and as portable as any other chip. "Cheese crisps fit the bill. And Whisps Snacks are always on hand in our house, particularly during travel," he says. (One serving of this snack delivers around 10 grams of protein and only 1 gram of carbs.) "Outside of just the protein and carbs, they're an excellent source of calcium, are gluten-free and vegetarian friendly (if those matter to you)," he continues. You can also DIY cheese crisps at home—it's a simple two-ingredient snack you can make in a big batch.

Buy It: Whisps Cheddar Crisps ($3, Target)

Steamed Eggs
Carson Downing

3. Hard-Boiled Eggs

"Perfect for fighting the 'crash,' hard-boiled eggs deliver high-quality protein to help keep your blood sugar more stable and your energy consistent," says Mohr. That's 12.6 grams of high-quality protein, to be exact. The vibrant yolk is also packed with a slew of good-for-you nutrients like vitamins A, D, and E, plus eye-healthy lutein and mood- and memory-helping choline. While you can certainly prepare your own hard-boiled eggs, pre-made and pre-peeled ones are incredibly convenient, nutrient-dense, and always ready to eat. Also, they're available in a resealable pouch. "I like to drizzle my egg with a little bit of olive oil for even more staying power, and a pinch of salt and pepper," Mohr suggests.

4. Kale Chips

Packed with fiber and brimming with vitamins, a serving of kale chips is fairly low in carbohydrates, therefore it's a great snack for diabetics. Dark leafy greens like kale are also a food group the American Diabetes Association encourages people to eat more often. You can make kale chips at home, or keep things ultra-simple and grab a bag or clamshell of the chips from the snack aisle of your grocery store. If you choose a flavored variety, be sure to compare the carb count, as the flavoring typically adds a gram or two of carbohydrates.

diced cut mango
Basak Gurbuz Derman/Getty Images

5. Mango

Good news for people who never tire of eating mangos (as a snack or in recipes): Even though mangos are higher in carbohydrates compared to other tropical fruits, like pineapple and papaya, research shows that eating a mango actually doesn't spike blood sugar as much as pineapples or papayas—perhaps because the mango is lower on the glycemic index. As a result, though, mangos are a healthy snack for people with diabetes, as well as those without. Another health benefit to the mango is that it contains a good-for-you compound called mangiferin, which may have anti-diabetes properties (per preliminary research). Enjoy a mango straight up, squeeze lemon juice over it, or add a pinch of salt and cayenne pepper. The capsaicin in the cayenne pepper might also help temper your blood sugar rise.

6. Oranges

Another "diabetes superfood," according to the American Diabetes Association, oranges (along with other citrus, such as grapefruits and lemons) deliver fiber, vitamin C, and flavonoids like hesperidin, naringin, and rutin. Research suggests that the health benefits of oranges come from vitamin C and some of the flavonoids, which act like antioxidants, mopping up harmful free radicals, and also help quell blood sugar spikes. Want more than just an orange? Pair orange and grapefruit segments with a few pitted Castelvetrano olives and your favorite salty cheese for a greens-free take on salad. The olives and cheese will help make the "salad" more filling and add delicious briny and salty elements, and the olives will give you heart-healthy unsaturated fats.

Pistachio nuts, high angle view
Aniko Hobel/Getty Images

7. Pistachios

One of the highest protein nuts at 6 grams of plant protein per serving (about a quarter cup without the shells), pistachios are a great go-to snack, says Shannon A. Garcia RD, founder and owner of KISS in the Kitchen Blog. The combination of healthy fats, protein, and fiber can help you feel fuller longer, which is one of the reasons the American Diabetes Association calls nuts like pistachios a diabetes superfood. There are also quite a few other health benefits of pistachios: they're good for your heart, and they offer healthy doses of fiber and potassium (a mineral that's good for your blood pressure). "I like Wonderful Pistachios because they have a no-shells option. If you need an extra boost, pair the roasted and salted version with a small serving of berries for a naturally sweet snack that has an extra hit of fiber," says Garcia.

Buy It: Wonderful Roasted and Salted No Shells Pistachios ($10, Target)

8. Protein Bars

Some off-the-shelf protein bars have an ideal balance of carbs, protein, and fat with just a few simple, nutrient-packed ingredients like egg whites, nuts, and dates. RXBARs are Garcia's pick. "They take the guesswork out of figuring out a balanced snack and have yummy flavors like Coconut Chocolate, Maple Sea Salt, and many more," she says. "I often encourage my clients to keep one of these bars in their purse, gym bag, or work bag so they're always prepared with a balanced snack."

Buy It: RXBAR Protein Bars Variety Pack ($16, Target)

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  1. Axelsson, Annika S. et al. "Sulforaphane Reduces Hepatic Glucose Production and Improves Glucose Control in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes." Science Translational Medicine. 2017.

  2. M. T. Guevarra, L. N. Panlasigui. "Blood Glucose Responses of Diabetes Mellitus Type II Patients to Some Local Fruits." Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2000.

  3. Sonali Aswal, Ankit Kumar, Ashutosh Chauhan, Ruchi Badoni Semwal, Abhimanyu Kumar, Deepak Kumar Semwal. "A Molecular Approach on the Protective Effects of Mangiferin Against Diabetes and Diabetes-related Complications." Current Diabetes Reviews. 2020. pp. 690-698.

  4. Zhang, Shiqi et al. "Capsaicin Reduces Blood Glucose by Increasing Insulin Levels and Glycogen Content Better than Capsiate in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2017.

  5. Alam, M. Ashraful et al. "Effect of Citrus Flavonoids, Naringin and Naringenin, on Metabolic Syndrome and Their Mechanisms of Action." Advances in Nutrition. 2014.

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