Best fruit for type 2 diabetes? The best choices are fruits low in carbohydrates and for some fruits, high in fiber. A good choice may also be a fruit that is low in sugar, but it would depend on other factors such as amount of sugar compared to carbs. For example, one cup of cranberries contains 22 grams of sugar while 1 cup of blueberries contains 4 grams of sugar.
THE BEST FRUITS FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES AND WHICH ONES TO HAVE IN MODERATION
Have you recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? You’re probably wondering how to navigate diet changes, and we know how hard that can be. You might have asked yourself if you can still eat fruit since it’s high in sugar, and the answer is yes! Fruit is full of good things, like vitamins, minerals, and fiber. While fruit is still good for you, you do need to eat it in moderation since it can be high in sugar and carbohydrates. We’ve got a list of the best fruits for type 2 diabetes, fruits to avoid, and how to incorporate them into your diet.
Best Fruits for Type 2 Diabetes
Fruit contains carbohydrates, which are what diabetics need to moderate and keep track of in their diet. While figuring out the amount of carbs in fruit is important, you should also consider the benefits of each type of fruit when choosing what to eat. Fruit contains antioxidants, which reduce the damage of cells. Whole fruit also contains fiber. Fiber fills you up without raising your blood sugar, which is important for type 2 diabetics. Here’s a list of the best fruits for type 2 diabetes:
- Berries – Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries – Full of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins plus low on the glycemic index
- Apples – Full of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C
- Citrus – Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit – Contain folate, potassium, and vitamin C plus low on the glycemic index
- Apricots – Contain vitamin A and fiber
- Cantaloupe – Contain vitamin C and antioxidants
- Peaches – Contain vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber
- Pears – Contain fiber and vitamin K
- Kiwis – fiber, potassium, and vitamin C
Fruits that Should be Eaten in Moderation
While fruit is definitely beneficial in a type 2 diabetes diet, you need to consider portion size with everything. Typically, the serving size for fruit is 15 grams of carbs. The list below is fruit that type 2 diabetics can have but should eat in moderation:
- Cherries – Roughly 1 cherry has 1 gram of carbs. Portion size is 15 cherries.
- Grapes – Similar to cherries. 1 grape virtually has 1 gram of carbs. Portion size is 15 grapes.
- Pineapples – High on the glycemic index. Portion size is 0.5 cup.
- Bananas – Contains same amount of carbs in 1 whole banana that is in 2 portions of fruit. Portion size is half a banana.
- Mangos – Can be high on the glycemic index. Portion size is 0.5 cup.
- Watermelon – High on the glycemic index. Portion size is 1.25 cups.
Diabetics should also avoid dried fruit. They contain a large amount of carbs for a much smaller portion size, which won’t fill you up as much as fresh fruit. Fruit juice should also be avoided since it contains high amounts of sugar and carbs, due to the fact that it takes multiple fruits to make 8 ounces of fruit juice.
Since everyone is different, you should work with your healthcare provider on a plan designed just for you. Just keep in mind that you can have fruit as long as you count the carbs and watch your sugar intake!
The Worst Fruits for People With Diabetes (and the Best)
People with diabetes don’t need to avoid all fruit; they just need to make smart choices.
There is a misconception that people with diabetes cannot eat fruit. Yes, fruit does contain natural sugars. But just because you have diabetes does not mean you need to avoid fruit. It just means you need to make better choices on what fruit (and how much) you eat.
Fruit, like many other foods, can raise blood sugar. Frequent blood sugar spikes can elevate your A1C, a measure of how high your blood sugar is on average. The higher the A1C level, the less well your body is managing the condition.
But fruit doesn’t have to be off the table if you’re a person with diabetes. Indeed, fruit can be a healthy part of a balanced diet. It’s just important for people with diabetes to pick the best fruits for them, and to eat some others less frequently.
We spoke to two dietitians to get the scoop on the best and worst fruits for people with diabetes.
Can People With Diabetes Eat Fruit?
“All fruits have healthy qualities, even if you have diabetes,” says Zoe Fienman, RD LDN CDE, a registered dietitian at OnPoint Nutrition. “They are filled with fiber, vitamins, and minerals your body needs.”
What identifies a fruit as better or worse is really the amount of sugar that fruit has and where it lies on the glycemic index. An important tool for people with diabetes, the glycemic index refers to the rate at which food is digested and absorbed into the blood stream.
“If it’s higher, that means that food breaks down more quickly which can cause a spike in blood sugar more rapidly,” Fienman says. That being said, like with all foods, people may digest or react to something differently. One person with diabetes may be able to tolerate a banana without a major spike in sugars, and others may have to avoid them altogether.
Of course, always consult your doctor or a registered dietitian when figuring out a diet that is right for managing diabetes and your blood sugar.
The Worst Fruits for People With Diabetes
Serving size is important for all fruits, especially those high on the glycemic index. Fienman recommends thinking about the serving size of a whole fruit (like an apple) to the size of a tennis ball and cut up fruit to a ½ cup. Even in these small servings, some fruits have more natural sugars and may spike blood sugar longer.
These fruits contain a high amount of natural sugars:
Skip the canned fruit.
Canned fruits and those cute little fruit cocktail cups may be convenient and inexpensive, but they aren’t so good for you.
“Those canned in heavy or light syrup are not an ideal choice for persons with diabetes,” says Kim Rose, RD and a certified diabetes care and education specialist. “This is because syrup-laden fruits contain added sugar that may be too much for the body to handle.”
Be careful with dried fruits.
Drying fruit concentrates all of the yummy fruit flavor into one smaller bite, but it also concentrates many of the sugars. Even a small amount of dried fruit can put you over the edge.
Be careful to read dried fruit labels; many of them pack on the added sugars. Some are even sweetened, making the sugar problem worse. If you must have dried fruit, keep the quantities small. Rose recommends dates, figs, and prunes because they are lower on the glycemic index.
Juices and smoothies can be tricky.
Many store-bought juices — orange, apple, even green juices — sneakily add extra sugars, so you’ll want to avoid those, too. Even juices or smoothies you make at home can require a lot of fruit for one glass (a small juice can often have two to three oranges), so it isn’t always the best option for people with diabetes. If you want to have a smoothie, try adding in mostly vegetables and something like a half of a banana for sweetness.
The Best Fruits for People With Diabetes
Two to three servings of fruit a day is recommended, and that can is true for people with diabetes, too.
“If you combine fruit with a fat or protein, it will help you feel fuller and help with that portion control,” Fienman says.
Here are some beneficial fruits that are not only lower on the glycemic index, but also pack a punch with other vitamins and minerals:
- berries — Both citrus and berries are recommended as superfoods by the American Diabetes Association.
- apples — High fiber fruits like apples and pears help to slow a spike in blood sugar, Rose says.
What You Should Know About Fruit for a Diabetes Diet
If you have type 2 diabetes, you know how important it is to pay attention to your carbohydrate consumption. When you eat carbs, your body turns it into sugar, directly impacting your blood sugar levels.
Since fruit tends to be rich in carbs — primarily the simple sugars, glucose and fructose — does it have a place in a diabetes eating plan?
The answer is yes, fruit is an excellent way to get nutrition while satisfying your sweet tooth, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The ADA advises you to count fruit as a carb in your meal plan.
What are the best fruit choices?
The best choice is fresh fruit, according to the ADA. They also recommend frozen or canned fruit that does not have added sugars. Check the food labels for added sugar, and be aware that sugar has many different names on labels. This includes cane sugar, invert sugar, corn sweetener, dextran, and high fructose corn syrup.
Recommended fresh fruits include:
A 2013 studyTrusted Source published in the British Medical Journal concluded that the consumption of whole fruits, apples, blueberries, and grapes is significantly associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
What is the correct portion size?
The Mayo Clinic indicates that a serving size depends on the fruit’s carb content. One serving of fruit contains about 15 grams of carbs.
Fruit servings that have about 15 grams of carbs include:
- 1 small piece of fresh fruit (4 ounces)
- ½ cup of canned or frozen fruit (no sugar added)
- 2 teaspoons of dry fruit such as dried cherries or raisins
Other serving sizes that have about 15 grams of carbs include:
- ½ medium apple
- 1 small banana
- 1 cup cubed cantaloupe or honeydew melon
- 1 cup blackberries
- ¾ cup blueberries
- 17 small grapes
- 1 cup raspberries
- 1¼ cup whole strawberries
What about fruit juice?
One-third to one-half cup of fruit juice is about 15 grams of carbs.
The research results about fruit juice and diabetes are mixed:
- A 2013 studyTrusted Source that tracked thousands of people over a number of years concluded that the greater consumption of fruit juices is significantly associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
- A 2017 studyTrusted Source of random controlled trials suggested that the consumption of 100 percent fruit juice is not associated with increased risk of diabetes. However, the study also notes that more detailed research is needed to understand the effect of 100 percent fruit juice on regulation and maintenance of blood glucose levels.
The ADA recommends only drinking juice in small portions — about 4 ounces or less a day. They also recommend checking the label to be sure it’s 100 percent fruit juice with no added sugar.
In general, eating whole fruit with dietary fiber is recommended over juice. The fiber in whole fruit delays digestion. This delay will not only help you feel full, but it will also not spike blood sugar levels as quickly as if you had consumed the fruit in juice form.
Diabetes and Fruit
You might have heard that you can’t eat fruit if you have diabetes. Fruit has carbohydrates and a form of natural sugar called fructose, which can raise your blood sugar levels. But it can still be part of your meal plan. It’s full of vitamins, minerals, and powerful plant compounds called phytochemicals.
Thanks to phytochemicals, eating fruit may lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke and boost your overall health. That’s important because diabetes is linked to a higher risk of heart disease and other problems.
Many fruits are high in fiber, too. Fiber slows digestion, helping to prevent blood sugar spikes. It also makes you feel fuller, which can help you keep a healthy weight.
How Does Fruit Affect Blood Sugar?
Because they have carbohydrates, fruits will raise your blood sugar. So it’s important to count the carbs you eat and balance them with medicine, diet, and lifestyle choices. If you’re having trouble keeping your blood sugar under control, let your doctor know right away.
One serving of fruit has 15 grams of carbs. But the serving size can be very different depending on the type of fruit. For example, you 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 aren’t the only number to keep in mind. The glycemic index (GI) measures how a food affects your blood sugar. Foods that are low on the scale raise it slowly. Those high on the scale raise it quickly.
Eating mostly low-GI foods can help you keep control of your blood sugar. But they may not always be good for you. A candy bar and a cup of brown rice can have the same GI value. Be sure to keep nutrition in mind when choosing what to eat.
A large serving of a low-GI food will usually raise your blood sugar as much as a small amount of a high-GI food. So experts also use glycemic load (GL), a measurement that involves portion size as well as the GI number, to give more details about these effects. For example, an orange has a GI of 52 but a glycemic load of 4.4, which is low. A candy bar with a GI of 55 may have a GL of 22.1, which is high.
Healthy Ways to Eat Fruit
Small steps can make a big difference in your blood sugar levels. Be sure to:
- Watch your portion sizes, especially with dried fruit. Two tablespoons of raisins have the same amount of carbs as a small apple.
- Choose fresh or frozen fruit when you can. Processed fruits like applesauce and canned fruit in syrup or juice often have more carbs and can raise your blood sugar higher than fresh fruits.
- When you eat dried or processed fruit, check the label. Many have added sugar, and serving sizes can be very small.
- Go easy on the fruit juice. It’s high in carbs: Eight ounces of apple juice has 29 grams of carbs. And it doesn’t have fiber to slow digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes like whole fruit does. Research even links drinking lots of fruit juice with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Spread your fruit out over the day. Instead of two servings for breakfast, have one at breakfast and another at lunch or as a snack.
Healthiest Fruits for People With Diabetes
All fruits have vitamins, phytochemicals, and other things that make them good for you. But some are more likely to lower your chances of chronic disease:
- Blackberries. One cup of raw berries has 62 calories, 14 grams of carbohydrates, and 7.6 grams of fiber.
- Strawberries. One cup of whole strawberries has 46 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of fiber.
- Tomatoes. One cup of sliced or chopped tomatoes has 32 calories, 7 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of fiber.
- Oranges. One medium orange has 69 calories, 17 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of fiber.
The fiber in fresh fruit helps keep most of them low on the GI scale (55 or under). Examples include:
A few fruits are on the higher end of the GI scale (70 or higher). These include: