Most diabetics warn against eating fruits regularly, which is understandable because most fruits have a sweet taste. However, this is a wrong idea. All types of fruit can be a healthy part of a balanced diet, regardless of the type of diabetes.
Although fruits have a higher percentage of natural sugars than vegetables, they also provide essential dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and diabetes-friendly antioxidants.
In addition, it is unlikely that the fruit in your diet is solely responsible for your high blood sugar levels. Therefore, look at other sources of sugar in your meal, such as cakes, cookies and sweets, before cutting back on fruit.
Fruits and diabetes – the relationship
A study showed that increasing the consumption of whole fruits, especially apples, berries and grapes, significantly reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Having said that, consuming large amounts of fruit juice increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Therefore, eating whole fruits instead of fruit juices is much healthier.
As for sweet content, the sugar found in whole fruit does not contribute added sugars or empty calories. Interestingly, the risk of obesity, heart attack, and stroke can actually decrease with diets rich in fruits and vegetables. Moreover, the fruit contains soluble fiber that reduces how quickly the body absorbs sugar and regulates blood sugar levels.
Many fruits are high in fiber, especially when you consume their skin or pulp. Avoid juices, canned fruits, and other processed fruits with added sugar, and consume fruits in their natural, whole form to prevent a spike in blood sugar.
While fructose, the natural sugar in fruit, has a lower glycemic index than starch, it is not recommended to overdo it. Therefore, control portions according to your calories.
Studies show that the ideal range for fructose consumption is between 25-40 grams per day. Thus, people with diabetes are not recommended to have more than 2-3 servings of fruits per day.
Best and worst fruits for diabetics
The glycemic index is a scale with numerical ratings. Provides a score for each food from 1 to 100. The score shows how quickly a food may raise blood sugar levels.
Foods with a high glycemic index are absorbed by the body more quickly than foods with a medium or low glycemic index. Therefore, blood sugar is likely to increase as the fruits increase their digestive tract.
The glycemic index can help you predict how different fruits will affect your blood sugar levels. Checking the fruit’s results on the glycemic index is one way for diabetics to choose safe and acceptable fruit.
The glycemic load is more valuable than the glycemic index for selecting healthy, diabetes-friendly fruits. It allows you to see how much glucose a particular fruit can provide per serving.
The lower the glycemic load of the fruit, the slower the blood sugar will rise after eating that fruit, and vice versa. A value of 10 or less defines a low glycemic load, while between 11 and 19 is the average GL. If you have diabetes, avoid fruits with a GL of 20 or higher.
Fruits to eat for diabetics
Fruits suitable for diabetics include:
- green apple
Rich in fiber and antioxidants and low on the glycemic index (GI: 1-55)
Fruits to avoid for diabetics
In general, there are no fruits that should be avoided completely. But remember that portion control is vital for fruits with moderate to high GI and GL.
The following fruits are high in natural sugars and should be eaten in moderation:
- ripe banana
The glycemic index of this fruit ranges from 51-80.
People with diabetes can eat two to three servings of fruit per day. GI and GL are essential tools for determining which fruit is best or worst for diabetes. However, consult your doctor or nutritionist when determining what and how much fruit is right for your blood sugar.
Nutrition tips from our nutritionist
- Oranges and lemons are examples of citrus fruits that are beneficial for people with diabetes. They are rich in antioxidants that help manage blood sugar levels.
- Fruits like avocados provide monounsaturated fatty acids, which are good for the body.
- Diabetics should avoid consuming canned fruits and fruit juices in particular. They lack fiber and contain a lot of added sugar or flavorings, which can cause blood sugar levels to spike.
- You can enjoy dried fruits in medium sizes. Choose dates, figs, and plums as they are lower on the glycemic index scale.
Fresh, whole fruit is an essential component of any balanced diet because it contains essential nutrients. Therefore, a diabetes-friendly diet does not eliminate fruit. However, eat fruits in moderation.
The secret to excellent health is portion control and choosing fruits with low GI and GL. Moreover, monitoring your blood glucose level regularly will help you decide which fruit is best for you.