Because blood sugar is one of the most important factors in your overall health, you might think getting tests is a good way to keep it in check. You’d be right on that count. But you might be surprised to know that the best test may not be one you’re familiar with.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from ETR readers about blood sugar. What most of them are concerned about is this: Which test is better – fasting blood sugar, oral glucose tolerance, or random blood sugar?

The answer is “none of the above.” It’s the glycated hemoglobin or A1C test.

The A1C is far superior to the other tests. Not only can it be used to diagnose diabetes, it also gauges how well a diabetic is managing his or her condition.

And that’s not all. The A1C tells you what percentage of your hemoglobin (a protein found in red blood cells) is sugar coated (glycated). And “sugar coated” is a really bad thing when it comes to your cells. In fact, these glycated compounds are associated with an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s, cataracts, and many other chronic ailments.

Ask your doctor for an A1C test. Ideally, you’ll want an A1C of less than 5 percent, which corresponds to an average glucose level of 90 mg/dL.

Kelley Herring

Kelley Herring is the Founder & CEO of Healing Gourmet – a multimedia company that educates on how foods promote health and protect against disease. As a young adult, Kelley battled a debilitating health condition that went misdiagnosed by multiple doctors for more than a year. Finding no help from “modern medicine”, she turned to her own knowledge of biochemistry and her passion for health research. She soon learned that her symptoms were related to nutrition and within weeks, she charted a course back to health with nothing more than simple lifestyle changes and the power of the plate. The lessons she learned spawned the creation of Healing Gourmet. Kelley is a firm believer in vigorous exercise, moderate sun exposure and delicious, healthy, home-cooked meals. She is also the creator of Healing Gourmet’s Personalized Nutrition Software and Editor-in-Chief of the Healing Gourmet book series published by McGraw-Hill including Eat to Fight Cancer, Eat to Beat Diabetes, Eat to Lower Cholesterol and Eat to Boost Fertility.