The link between high blood sugar and poor health go far beyond diabetes, a condition of epidemic proportions on its own. Not only does high blood sugar also put you at risk for heart disease, but also Alzheimer’s, a condition also known as type 3 diabetes. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine further solidifies the evidence that high blood sugar, even in people who do not have diabetes, is associated with an increased risk of dementia.

The study “may have influence on the way we think about blood sugar and the brain,” said Paul Crane, MD, lead author. The study analyzed data from over 2,000 patients of average age 76, and tracked blood sugar levels for almost seven years. “We found a steadily increasing risk associated with ever-higher blood glucose levels, even in people who didn’t have diabetes,” said Crane.

Researchers are still trying to figure out just how increased blood sugar leads to dementia. In the meantime, achieving and maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is always a good goal. While standard blood tests label normal blood glucose (sugar) levels at below 99 mg/dL, studies have found that blood glucose levels between 75 and 85, along with an insulin level of 5 IU/mL or less, as most protective of cardiovascular health.

Checking insulin levels along with blood sugar is important because the insulin goes up before the blood sugar levels, since insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar. High insulin is a sign that you may be headed toward insulin resistance, which leads to high blood sugar and inflammation.

Eating a diet high in non-starchy vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, lean proteins, nuts, and seeds will help you reach healthy blood sugar levels, among many other health benefits.