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If you are at risk for low blood sugar levels because of diabetes or some other health condition, you need to keep with you at all times some type of food that can quickly raise your blood sugar level. Eating quick-sugar food puts glucose into your bloodstream in about 5 minutes. Glucose or sucrose is the best choice.
Choose foods that contain about 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrate. This table is just a guide. So check the nutrition label of the quick-sugar food you use to be sure it equals about 15 grams of carbohydrate.
1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons)
Fruit juice or regular soda pop
½–¾ cup (4–6 ounces)
1 cup (8 ounces)
Candy like Life Savers
Hard candy (like Jolly Rancher)
These quick-sugar foods will help raise your blood sugar in an emergency, because they are made from almost all carbohydrate. If you use a food not on this list to treat your low blood sugar, be sure it does not contain fat or protein. These can slow how quickly your body absorbs the carbohydrate. For example, regular cake frosting is made with both sugar and fat. It is not a good choice as a quick-sugar food. Some clear cake frosting and clear cake gels are made without fat. But you should check the ingredients and the nutrition label to be sure. When in doubt, ask your doctor or registered dietitian.
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Warshaw H, Kulkarni K (2011). The Complete Guide to Carb Counting, 3rd ed. Alexandria, VA: American Diabetes Association.
American Diabetes Association (2013). Carbs: Fast! Diabetes Forecast. http://www.diabetesforecast.org/diabetes-101/carbs-fast.html. Accessed April 21, 2016.
American Diabetes Association (2015). Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/hypoglycemia-low-blood.html. Accessed April 21, 2016.
Current as of: April 16, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: John Pope MD - PediatricsAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineRhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes EducatorColleen O'Connor PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian
Current as of:
April 16, 2019
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator & Colleen O'Connor PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
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