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Hemoglobin A1C, commonly known as simply A1C, is a measure of a person’s average blood glucose (sugar) levels over a three-month period. Measuring a person’s A1C level is a method that can be used to diagnose prediabetes or diabetes.

What are normal A1C levels?

According to the American Diabetes Association, a person without diabetes should have an A1C that is less than 5.7 percent. If a person has prediabetes, their A1C will fall in the 5.7 to 6.5 percent range. However, if someone’s A1C is 6.5 percent or higher, they will be in the diabetes range.

Your doctor may take a second A1C measurement to confirm a level of 6.5 percent or higher. The table below includes A1C percentages that are in the diabetes range and the corresponding average blood glucose value that the percentage represents.

Table 1. A1C Measurements

Adapted from the American Diabetes Association.
Hemoglobin A1C (%)Estimated Average Glucose (mg/dl)

How can I lower my A1C?

There are three areas in which you can take action to help lower A1C values: nutrition, exercise, and medication.

Nutrition. Ensure you are eating a balanced diet that includes nonstarchy vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Also, you can help regulate blood sugar levels by reducing carbohydrate consumption and switching to whole-grain carbohydrate sources—such as 100 percent whole-wheat bread and brown rice—as opposed to refined carbohydrates—like white bread and white rice. Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and choose water, unsweetened tea, or diet sodas instead. Ask your doctor to refer you to a registered dietitian for personalized nutrition recommendations to help lower your A1C.

Exercise. Incorporating about 30 minutes of exercise five times a week will help lower blood sugar and contributes to an overall healthier lifestyle. Remember, anytime you are up and moving around counts as exercise. Walking, taking the stairs at work, and doing chores around the house counts just as much as running on a treadmill. Consult with your doctor to determine a healthy level and intensity of exercise for you.

Medication. Consult with your doctor about the medications that are available for diabetes and if you need one or more of these medications. These medications are designed to regulate blood sugar levels, which will then help lower A1C levels over time.


A1C is an important indicator of diabetes status. Tracking or knowing your A1C can help you and your health provider identify whether action is needed to better control it. In implementing these practices to lower A1C, you can better manage your blood sugar levels and improve your overall health.