We're aware of the unhealthy foods that cause hormonal imbalances and blood sugar spikes—refined carbohydrates like white rice and pasta, sugary sodas, and processed snacks and meats are the typical culprits. But as functional medicine doctor William Cole, MD, points out on MindBodyGreen, even some of the healthy foods we prescribe as dietary cure-alls can be causing your blood sugar to fluctuate, leaving you feeling irritable, tired, and insatiably hungry. "Even if something is generally healthy, it may not be optimal for you," he explains, especially if you experience blood sugar highs and lows.
While in the end it's all about balance, the unsuspecting health foods below can actually mess with your blood sugar:
Fruits high in fructose: While fruits like apples, watermelons, and cherries contain natural sugars, they can still cause problems in people with blood sugar issues. "But don't fear fruit!" he cautions. "There are many healing aspects to these foods. It's all about balance and what amount works best for your body."
Agave nectar: This sweetener is widely regarded as a healthier alternative to honey, as it's lower on the glycemic index. But since it's extremely high in fructose, "Your body takes a while to convert [it] into glucose, glycogen, lactate, and fat in your liver," explains Cole. "This is very stressful on your liver and can contribute to fatty liver disease and insulin resistance."
Legumes: Believe it or not, this source of fiber and protein can actually cause problems for people with blood sugar issues. "The lectins and phytates proteins in legumes can cause bloating and gas and continue to drive inflammation," explains Cole. "I find that this is one common blood sugar spiker in people who eat clean but rely heavily on beans as a source of protein, such as vegans and vegetarians."