A hemoglobin A1c (aka HbA1c or A1c) level of 5 is considered optimal.
An A1c of 5.0 means that 5% of the hemoglobin in your blood is saturated with sugar. A1c levels between 4 and 5.6 percent indicate good blood glucose control over the last 2-3 months. Maintaining an optimal A1c is important for preventing diabetes and the complications associated with this diagnosis.
An A1c level of 5% means you have had good blood glucose control over the last few months. A1c tends to increase with age , so it’s important to have your levels checked periodically, particularly if you’re at greater risk for developing prediabetes or diabetes.
Groups that are at greater risk for developing prediabetes/ diabetes include:
Adults age 45 or older
People of Black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander descent
Individuals with a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
Overweight or obese individuals
Those who are physically inactive
Individuals with low HDL (good) cholesterol and/or high triglycerides
People with high blood pressure, or who take medicine for high blood pressure
Women who had diabetes during pregnancy or who have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Regardless of whether or not you’re at increased risk for prediabetes/ diabetes, having a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle are key to maintaining optimal A1c levels. Here are some things you can do to keep your levels in the green:
Be active every day: Aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week (about 30 minutes, 5 days per week).
Fill half of your plate with non-starchy veggies at every meal, and incorporate a source of lean protein and plant-based fat to assist with blood sugar control.
Limit refined carbohydrates and added sugar, and choose whole-grain carbohydrates such as whole wheat bread/ pasta, quinoa, farro, and steel-cut oats, instead.
Lose excess weight if you are overweight or obese.
Follow your diabetes treatment plan if you have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Manage stress and get adequate sleep to help balance hormone levels that can impact blood sugar.
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Pani, L. N., Korenda, L., Meigs, J. B., Driver, C., Chamany, S., Fox, C. S., Sullivan, L., D'Agostino, R. B., & Nathan, D. M. (2008). Effect of aging on A1C levels in individuals without diabetes: evidence from the Framingham Offspring Study and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2004. Diabetes care, 31(10), 1991–1996. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc08-0577