Controlling blood sugar after a meal is a challenge for millions of people. Those with prediabetes or confirmed diabetes must make a concerted effort not to let blood glucose get out of control. But even healthy people benefit when they keep blood sugar under control. Are there some relatively simple foods that can help? Here is a question from someone who heard that vinegar might be beneficial in this regard:
Q. Is there any truth to the theory that taking 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar at lunch and again at dinner reduces blood sugar? Do you have any suggestions for controlling blood sugar? My doctor says I have prediabetes.
A. There is some evidence that adding vinegar to a high carbohydrate meal can help moderate the resulting rise in blood sugar (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July, 2010). Adding a vinaigrette dressing to salad at the end of the meal, as the French do, might be an easy way to accomplish this.
New Research to Support Vinegar vs. Blood Sugar Elevations:
When we responded to the question above a few years ago there was not a lot of research beyond the article cited. But in the Journal of Diabetes Research there was a fascinating study (online May 6, 2015) that confirmed the benefits of vinegar Here are the conclusions:
“In summary, our study showed that, in type 2 diabetes, vinegar reduces postprandial [post meal] hyperglycaemia, hyperinsulinaemia, and hypertriglyceridaemia without affecting lipolysis. As a result, vinegar’s effect on carbohydrate metabolism may be accounted for, at least in part, by an increase in insulin-stimulated glucose uptake, demonstrating an improvement in insulin action in the skeletal muscles. However, further studies are required to examine the long-term effects of vinegar in type 2 diabetes.”
What this means is that vinegar facilitates absorption of glucose into muscle thereby lowering blood sugar, reducing excess levels of insulin and also helping to control triglyceride levels after a meal.
This isn’t the only study demonstrating such success. Another paper published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (June, 2015) found that in people with blood sugar problems:
“…vinegar ingestion before a mixed meal results in an enhancement of muscle blood flow, an improvement of glucose uptake by the forearm muscle and a reduction of postprandial hyperinsulinaemia and hypertriglyceridaemia. From this point of view, vinegar may be considered beneficial for improving insulin resistance and metabolic abnormalities in the atherogenic prediabetic state.”
What Else Can You Do to Control Blood Sugar?
Other strategies include avoiding highly processed carbs and sugar while increasing intake of vegetables and nuts. Supplements such as vitamin D and selenium, fenugreek, bitter melon or nopal cactus may also be helpful.
You can learn about the details for these and many other nondrug approaches in our Guide to Managing Diabetes. Losing weight, as difficult as that is, and following a low glycemic-index diet can be very helpful.