Fruit can likely be a regular part of your diet if you have diabetes. But some fruits can be extra helpful. Learn about fruits good for diabetics. Find out more about how fruits can be part of a healthy meal plan when you have diabetes. Learn how fruit affects your blood sugar and what types of fruits are best for diabetics.
Fruits For Diabetics
If you have diabetes, you might have heard that eating fruit is not a good idea because it has carbs and natural sugar called fructose, which can make your blood sugar go up. But that’s not entirely true – you can still enjoy fruits in your meals. They’re not just tasty; they’re full of important stuff like vitamins, minerals, and powerful plant compounds called phytochemicals. These plant compounds in fruits are like superheroes – they lower your chances of getting heart disease, cancer, and stroke, and they keep you healthy overall. And since diabetes is linked to a higher risk of heart problems, having fruits is important. Also, many fruits have fiber, which is great. Fiber slows down how fast you digest food, stopping quick rises in blood sugar levels. Plus, it makes you feel full, helping you keep a healthy weight.
Keeping a healthy diet is super important for managing diabetes. It not only helps control blood sugar but also lowers the risk of other diabetes-related problems like heart disease and high blood pressure. You can totally include fresh fruit in your diet, and it is good for you if you have diabetes. Recent studies show that people with diabetes can regularly enjoy fruit, and it can even help lower blood sugar levels, giving you better control over your diabetes. While most people with diabetes can enjoy a variety of fresh fruits, some fruits stand out because they are super nutritious and good for controlling blood sugar. Including these fruits in your diet can help you stay healthy and manage your diabetes better.
How Does Fruit Affect Blood Sugar?
Because fruits contain carbohydrates, they can make your blood sugar go up. To manage this, keep track of the carbs you eat and balance them with medication, your diet, and lifestyle choices.
Each serving of fruit has about 15 grams of carbs. However, the serving size varies depending on the type of fruit. For instance, you’ll get 15 grams of carbs from:
- 1/2 medium apple or banana
- 1 cup blackberries or raspberries
- 3/4 cup blueberries
- 1 1/4 cup whole strawberries
- 1 cup cubed honeydew melon
- 1/8 cup raisins
Carbs are not the only thing to consider. The glycemic index (GI) measures how a food affects your blood sugar. Foods with a low GI raise it slowly, while those with a high GI raise it quickly. Opting for mostly low-GI foods can help you manage your blood sugar, but keep in mind that this doesn’t always mean they are the healthiest choice. For instance, a candy bar and a cup of brown rice can have the same GI value, so it’s important to consider overall nutrition when deciding what to eat.
It’s not just about the GI; the glycemic load (GL) is also crucial. It takes into account both the portion size and the GI number, providing more details about the effects on blood sugar. For example, an orange has a GI of 52 but a low GL of 4.4. On the other hand, a candy bar with a GI of 55 may have a high GL of 22.1. This means that a large serving of a low-GI food might raise your blood sugar as much as a small amount of a high-GI food. So, it is important to consider both the GI and GL when making food choices for better blood sugar control.
How to Choose Fruits For Diabetics Patients?
When you are buying fruit, it is a good idea to choose fresh options, especially the five fruits mentioned below. With so many fruits available, your choices may depend on your taste preferences and dietary needs. If you’re concerned about the glycemic index (GI), which measures how quickly a food raises your blood glucose, you might want to consider the GI of the fruit. The GI scale ranges from 0 to 100. A lower number means the food increases your blood glucose more slowly, while a higher number means it can increase it more quickly. Most fruits are considered low-GI, falling between 0-55 on the scale.
However, some fresh fruits, like melons and pineapple, have medium GI values (56-69). If you enjoy dried fruits such as dates, raisins, and sweetened cranberries, know that they also fall into the medium GI range. The ripeness of a fruit can affect its GI score. In the early stages, fruits have more starch, taking longer to digest. As they ripen, starch turns into simple sugars, raising the fruit’s GI. For instance, less ripe, greener bananas have less impact on glucose compared to ripe bananas.
Discussing fruit choices with a healthcare provider can be helpful. They can guide you on whether to consider the GI of a fruit, or if other factors like the amount of carbs are more important. Sometimes, the focus may be on creating a balanced meal or snack by combining fruit with protein-rich foods like nuts or hard-boiled eggs. This pairing helps maintain optimal blood sugar control by slowing digestion and preventing post-meal blood sugar spikes. For example, pairing an apple with a small handful of almonds makes for a filling and blood sugar-friendly snack.
5 Best Fruits For Diabetics
Berries, like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are super nutritious fruits. They’re not only packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants but also contain compounds with anti-inflammatory effects. What’s even more exciting is that research shows eating berries can be beneficial for people with diabetes. In a review from 2020, it was discovered that berries might help lower insulin and blood sugar levels after meals, which is great news for those managing diabetes. Another review in 2022, covering 22 studies, revealed that regular consumption of blueberries and cranberries significantly reduced fasting blood sugar and a long-term blood sugar control marker (HbA1c) in people with diabetes.
The magic of berries for diabetes comes from their rich fiber content, which slows down sugar absorption into the bloodstream. Moreover, berries are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, like flavonoids, which have anti-diabetic properties. These substances can contribute to maintaining healthy blood sugar and insulin levels. If that is not enough, adding berries to your diet might even help lower the risk of developing diabetes in the first place. Research links regular berry intake with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, as well as lower chances of conditions like heart disease, hypertension, and certain cancers. So, including these tasty and nutritious berries in your meals could be a sweet deal for your health.
Avocados are a unique fruit because they are low in carbs and high in healthy fats. Half of an avocado has only 8.5 grams of carbs but provides almost 30 grams of good fats, making them a smart choice for people on lower-carb diets. Especially rich in monounsaturated fats, avocados have proven benefits for those with diabetes. A review in 2016, looking at 24 studies, found that diets high in monounsaturated fats (like those in avocados) were linked to better glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes compared to diets high in carbs or polyunsaturated fats.
Besides being a healthy fat source, avocados are also packed with fiber, which helps prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar after meals. For people with type 2 diabetes, high-fiber diets have been associated with improvements in glycemic control, body weight, blood lipid levels, and markers of inflammation. Research specifically on avocados shows that including them in your diet can promote healthy blood sugar and insulin levels. However, some studies on avocados, including their impact on blood sugar, were funded by the Hass Avocado Board, which aims to promote avocados. So, while avocados can be a beneficial addition to your diet, it is always good to consider different sources of information.
3. Citrus Fruits
itrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruit, are a great choice for people with diabetes. These fruits not only have a low glycemic index (GI), indicating a slower impact on blood sugar levels, but they also come packed with nutrients that can help reduce inflammation and support healthy blood sugar control. For example, oranges have a low GI of 43, meaning they have a gentler effect on blood sugar compared to high-GI fruits like watermelon. Earlier studies suggest that regularly including low-GI fruits in your diet may help people with diabetes lower their HbA1c, blood pressure, and the risk of heart disease.
Citrus fruits are rich in antioxidant plant compounds, including naringenin, a type of polyphenol with potent anti-diabetic properties. So, enjoying oranges and grapefruit can be both a tasty and beneficial addition to your diet if you have diabetes.
Apples are another great option for those managing diabetes, thanks to their low glycemic index (GI) and rich nutrient content. A medium-sized apple provides about 5 grams of fiber, including soluble fiber, which slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Choosing foods with soluble fiber is a smart move for promoting healthy blood sugar and blood lipid levels, especially for people with type 2 diabetes.
Recent studies have shown that eating apples can be particularly beneficial for those with impaired blood sugar control. In a study from 2022, consuming an apple before a meal of rice significantly lowered post-meal blood sugar in people with impaired glucose tolerance compared to eating the rice meal before the apple. Researchers suggested that the soluble fiber, along with other anti-diabetic compounds in apples, may be helpful for people with elevated blood sugar levels, such as those with type 2 diabetes. So, including apples in your diet can be a tasty and health-conscious choice for managing diabetes.
Pomegranate is a superfruit associated with various health benefits, including reducing blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, and improving insulin resistance. The seeds (arils) and juice of pomegranates are packed with bioactive compounds like ellagitannins, anthocyanins, and organic acids, which help reduce inflammation and protect against cellular damage. Studies suggest that consuming pomegranate products can be particularly helpful for people with type 2 diabetes. For instance, a study in 2019 found that drinking 200 milliliters of pomegranate juice daily for six weeks led to significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes compared to a control group.
Since people with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk of high blood pressure, maintaining healthy blood pressure levels is crucial. Including foods with antihypertensive properties, like pomegranate, in your diet can be an easy and effective way to care for your health. Pomegranate seeds, or arils, are also beneficial for supporting healthy blood sugar levels. The seeds, rich in fiber, can help slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. While pomegranate juice can be enjoyed by people with diabetes, it is advisable to consume it in small amounts with a mixed meal containing fiber and protein to promote optimal blood sugar regulation. So, incorporating pomegranate into your diet can be a tasty and health-conscious choice, especially if you have type 2 diabetes.
Fruits to Avoid For Diabetics
Most people with type 2 diabetes can enjoy fresh fruits like berries, cherries, citrus fruits, and peaches as part of a healthy and balanced diabetes-friendly diet. However, certain fruits could be harmful for diabetics and overall health if consumed too frequently. Here are some fruit products to limit:
- Sugar-coated dried fruit: Unsweetened dried fruit can be a healthy choice in moderation, especially when paired with protein-rich foods like nuts. On the other hand, sweetened dried fruit can be high in added sugar. For example, sweetened dried pineapple may contain up to 47.5 grams of added sugar per 100-gram serving, equivalent to almost 12 teaspoons. Consuming excessive added sugar can negatively impact blood sugar control and lead to health issues like fatty liver and heart disease.
- Canned fruit in syrup: Similar to sweetened dried fruit, canned fruit in syrup can be surprisingly high in added sugar. A cup of fruit cocktail in heavy syrup, for instance, contains around 6.5 teaspoons of added sugar.
- Fruit-based desserts: Sugary fruit-based desserts, such as sorbet and fruit pops, are often rich in added sugar and total carbohydrates. It’s advisable to limit these for optimal blood sugar control.
- Sweetened fruit juices: While it’s okay to enjoy small amounts of 100% fruit juice occasionally, regularly consuming beverages high in added sugar and total carbohydrates, such as sweetened fruit juice products, could have a negative impact on blood sugar control and overall health.
By being mindful of these fruit products and focusing on whole, fresh fruits, individuals with type 2 diabetes can still enjoy a variety of delicious and nutritious options as part of a well-rounded diet.
How Much Fruits Should You Eat If You Have Diabetics?
The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults eat 1.5–2 cups of fruit a day. If you have diabetes, it’s a good idea to work with a healthcare provider to create an eating plan tailored to your needs. They can help determine the right amount of fruit for you and suggest specific fruits that would be most beneficial. Having diabetics doesn’t mean you should avoid fresh fruits. In fact, research indicates that including fruits in your diet can reduce the risk of diabetics complications, lower mortality rates, and improve glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes.
A 2019 study from China, which involved 19,473 people with type 2 diabetes, discovered that levels of fasting blood sugar and HbA1c (a marker of long-term blood sugar control) decreased as the frequency and amount of fresh fruit consumption increased. The study also revealed that those who ate fresh fruit five or more times per week had a 30% lower risk of poor glycemic control compared to those who did not consume fresh fruit. This highlights the positive impact of incorporating fresh fruit into the diet for individuals with diabetes.
To keep blood sugar levels in check while enjoying fruit:
- Mind Your Portions: Two tablespoons of raisins have the same carbs as a small apple.
- Choose Fresh or Frozen: Opt for fresh or frozen fruit over processed options, like canned fruit in syrup or applesauce, which can have more carbs.
- Check Labels: Be cautious of added sugars in dried or processed fruits; read labels carefully, as serving sizes can be small.
- Be Wary of Fruit Juice: Limit intake as it’s high in carbs; for example, eight ounces of apple juice has 29 grams of carbs.
- Spread Out Fruit Intake: Rather than having all your servings at once, distribute them throughout the day for better blood sugar control.