What fruits can you eat if you have diabetes?

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You may have heard at some point that you shouldn't eat fruit if you have diabetes. Someone may have even told you that watermelons and bananas are off-limits because they are too sweet. Neither one nor the other is entirely true. You can enjoy fruits, you just need to make smart decisions about what fruits and how much to eat.

Helen Yin / Stocksy United

Fruit and diabetes

Fruits have many health benefits: they contain vitamins, minerals, nutritional fiber, and antioxidants. Fruits can be beneficial for the diabetes diet if eaten in moderation. The key to eating fruit is making sure you eat the correct types and servings.

The fiber found in fruits can help prevent blood sugar spikes, can help remove cholesterol from the heart, and increase feelings of fullness, leading to less food intake. Fruits are also a great source of vitamins and minerals like potassium, which can help lower blood pressure .

On the other hand, fruits are carbohydrates and contain a natural sugar called fructose. Carbohydrates, whether from bread, milk, yogurt, potatoes, or fruit, break down during digestion and turn into sugar or glucose. For this reason, people with diabetes are advised to keep track of the amount of carbohydrates they consume, including fruit servings .

There are a few tips you'll want to keep in mind when choosing fruits:

Avoid dried fruits and fruit juices.

Dried fruits, especially sweetened ones, contain more carbohydrates per serving than natural whole fruits. It also contains more sugar because sugar is often added for flavor and may contain less fiber if the skin has been removed. Just four tablespoons of raisins (1/4 cup) will cost you 120 calories, 32 grams of carbohydrates, and 24 grams of sugar .

It is also best to avoid all fruit juices . Even 100% fruit juice causes instant spikes in blood sugar because the fiber-containing fruit pulp is thrown away. It's also easy to drink excess calories without realizing it. For example, 1 cup of 100% fruit juice contains 130 calories, 33 grams of carbohydrates, and 28 grams of sugar .

Instead of dried fruit or fruit juice, choose whole fruits (fresh, frozen, or canned) with no added syrups or sugar.

Keep your portions under control

The American Diabetes Association recommends that about 45% of your total daily calorie intake come from carbohydrates. If you have a fixed and consistent carbohydrate eating plan, you should consider fruit as your carbohydrate choice. When choosing fruits, try to stick to one serving of fruit per meal or snack , and limit the number of servings of fruit to no more than two or three per day .

Keep in mind that there are approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates in a serving of fruit. The amount of each fruit you can eat within that serving will depend on the type of fruit. Here is a list of what is considered a serving for normal whole fruits :

  • 1 small apple (4 ounces), orange, peach, pear, or plum
  • 1/2 medium banana
  • 2 small or 1 large tangerines (4 ounces total)
  • 2 small kiwis (2 ounces)
  • 4 small apricots (30 grams)
  • ~ 1 cup cantaloupe (cantaloupe, molasses)
  • 15 grapes or cherries
  • 1/3 medium mango
  • 1 1/4 cups strawberries
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup of raspberries and blackberries (contains 8 grams of fiber)

Some fruits should be treated with caution. For example, it is recommended that you only eat bananas, cherries, grapes, mangoes, and pineapples in the limited amounts specified, as they can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar due to their higher carbohydrate content.

If you want to get the most out of your largest serving, choose fruits that are very high in fiber, such as berries. For example, you can eat 1 1/4 cups of strawberries for 15 grams of carbohydrates .

Choose fruits with a lower glycemic index

The American Diabetes Association recommends choosing fruits with a low glycemic index . The glycemic index, or GI, is used as a benchmark to measure how carbohydrate-containing foods raise blood glucose levels.

Foods are judged based on how much blood sugar levels rise compared to benchmark foods, such as sugar or white bread. Foods with a high GI will raise blood glucose levels more than foods with a medium or low GI .

Most fruits have a low to moderate GI, with the exception of pineapple and watermelon. This does not mean that you can never eat pineapple and watermelon, but if you notice that your blood sugar level rises sharply after eating, it is best to avoid them. in the future. It is also important to note that the GI of foods is different when eaten alone than when combined with other foods. For example, if you eat high-GI fruits like watermelon, combining them with a low-GI food like low-fat cheese can help balance the effect on your blood sugar. Here are some examples of low, medium, and high GI fruits:

  • Low GI fruits (55 or less): apples, pears, mangoes, blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, grapefruit, pear, nectarine, orange.
  • Fruits with moderate GI (55-69): cherry, mango, papaya, grape.
  • Fruits with high GI (70 and more): watermelon, pineapple.

Pay attention to this information, keeping in mind that we all have our own trigger foods that raise blood sugar more than others. Also, the more ripe the fruit, the more it affects blood sugar levels.

Finally, consider that some nutritious foods have a higher GI than foods with low nutritional value. For example, oatmeal has a higher GI than chocolate. When using GI, balance this with basic nutritional principles and eat a variety of healthy foods and fewer nutrient-poor foods.

Pair it with protein

Some people believe that combining fruit with protein can help slow the rise in blood sugar levels. You can do this by including fruits in your diet for carbohydrates or adding protein to your fruit snack.

For instance:

  • 1 4-ounce apple slice with 1 tablespoon almond oil
  • 1 cup raspberries with 1 small low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 small peach with 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese

Make the most of your fruit selection

When choosing fruit, you need to think about serving size, convenience, cost, and taste, as well as the health benefits. Certain types of fruits, such as berries and citrus fruits , can be beneficial for people with diabetes.

Berries are rich in vitamin C, folate, fiber, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. Vitamin C is an important water-soluble vitamin that is involved in cell repair (especially important for wound healing), delays aging, and improves immunity. Also , its rich color (red, blue, and black) comes from anthocyanins. Research shows that anthocyanins can help prevent certain chronic diseases, including heart disease .

Citrus fruits like tangerines also contain vitamin C and potassium (which can lower blood pressure) and are a good source of fat-soluble vitamin A, an important vitamin for eye health. Citrus fruits also contain phytonutrients that can protect cells from damage, reduce inflammation, lower the risk of heart disease, and provide other health benefits. But if you're on a potassium-restricted diet or taking cholesterol-lowering medications, you can keep track of your citrus intake, so be sure to discuss your intake with your doctor before adding them to your eating plan.

Get the word of drug information

The notion that fruits should be avoided on a diabetic diet is a myth. However, it is important to make the right choice and always consider the carbohydrates in fruits, which turn into sugar and can cause a spike in blood sugar. Choose wisely and control your portions and you can enjoy fruit. If you have questions, be sure to ask a member of your healthcare team.

Frequently asked questions

  • Fruits with the lowest glycemic index include cherries, grapefruits, pears, apples, apricots, tangerines, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and plums.

  • Some of the fruits with the highest glycemic index are watermelon, pineapple, and overripe bananas (green bananas have an average glycemic index).

  • Other low-glycemic foods that are good for people with diabetes include chickpeas, lentils, navy beans, kidney beans, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, other non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, almonds, and peanuts , nuts, skim milk, almond milk, low-fat cheese, and other low-fat dairy products.

  • There are many options for managing and treating diabetes , including maintaining normal levels of blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and regular visits to the doctor are also important treatments for diabetes.

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