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Protein, probiotics may keep blood sugar in check

probiotics bottle Preliminary results of two small recent studies showed that consuming proteins or probiotics (good bacteria) may slow down the digestion of carbohydrates and stop spikes in blood sugar that can lead to type 2 diabetes or worsen its symptoms.

In the first study, researchers looked at how eating carbohydrates combined with other carbohydrates, fat, protein or fiber affected blood sugar over a two-hour period. The participants who ate protein and carbohydrates had a slower rise in their blood sugar than those who ate only carbohydrates, or carbohydrates with fiber or fat.

In the second study, all participants had high blood pressure and followed the heart-healthy DASH diet. The DASH diet emphasizes reducing blood pressure by eating foods that are low in sodium, sugar and saturated fat, and high in protein, fiber and minerals such as potassium and calcium. Half of the group were asked to include probiotic-rich foods in their diet, and they had a significant reduction in their blood sugar levels. One theory suggested that the presence of good bacteria, or probiotics, in foods may make it easier for the body to use insulin.

These early findings translate into ways you can add to a heart-healthy diet, such as:

  • Eat or drink probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt, kefir, certain cheeses, sauerkraut and kimchi.
  • Pair carbohydrates and lean proteins, such as egg whites and whole-wheat toast, peanut butter and crackers, or a baked potato with fish or chicken.