The most suitable fruits for sugar patients.We’ll also tell you about how to sweeten fruits and how to preserve them.The importance of a balanced diet is well known. In addition, it should always be in harmony with the type of diabetes that affects each one. A diet rich in carbohydrates is sometimes harmful to sufferers of type 1 diabetes, but can benefit those with type 2. For the body can not produce insulin, glucose cannot be broken down and neither can be stored in any form of muscles or fat tissue.
8 Best Fruits for a Diabetes-Friendly Diet
Forbidden fruit? Not if you make the right choices. These favorites are low-carb, low on the glycemic index, and good for your diabetes diet plan.
When you’re looking for a diabetes-friendly treat that can help keep your blood sugar within a healthy range, look no farther than the produce drawer of your refrigerator or the fruit basket on your kitchen table.
Believe it or not, the notion that fruit is not safe when you need to watch your A1C is a popular diabetes myth that has been debunked again and again. Indeed, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), many types of fruit are loaded with good-for-you vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber — a powerful nutrient that can help regulate blood sugar levels and decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Fiber — which can also be found in some of the best vegetables for diabetes, and in whole grains — can further benefit your health by promoting feelings of fullness and curbing cravings and overeating, research shows. Healthy weight maintenance can increase your insulin sensitivity and help in your diabetes management.
So, how do you pick the best fruits for diabetes? While some forms of fruit, like juice, can be bad for diabetes, whole fruits like berries, citrus, apricots, and yes, even apples — can be good for your A1C and overall health, fighting inflammation, normalizing your blood pressure, and more.
But as with any food in your diabetes diet, you have to be smart about counting carbohydrates and tracking what you eat. Portion size is key.
Consume fruit in its whole, natural form, and avoid syrups or any processed fruits with added sugar, which have the tendency to spike your blood sugar. Stick to the produce aisle and the freezer section of your grocery store. If you’re using the glycemic index (GI) or glycemic load — measures of how foods affect your blood sugar levels — to make dietary decisions, most whole fruits are a good choice because they tend to lie low on these rankings.
When you have diabetes, these steps will help you keep your blood sugar within a healthy range, thereby lowering your risk of certain diabetes complications, including neuropathy (nerve damage), kidney disease, eyesight issues like glaucoma, cataracts, or diabetic retinopathy, and life-threatening illnesses like heart disease and stroke.
The next time you have a hankering for something sweet, consider reaching for one of the following naturally sweet and juicy treats, courtesy of Mother Nature — you can whip it into a diabetes-friendly smoothie or keep it simple and throw it into your bag to munch on while you’re on the go.
Diabetes Diet Tips for The Carb Avoider
Berries for a Refreshing Treat and Disease-Fighting Antioxidants
Whether you love blueberries, strawberries, or any other type of berry, you have the go-ahead to indulge. According to the ADA, berries are a diabetes superfood because they’re packed with antioxidants and fiber. One cup of fresh blueberries has 84 calories and 21 grams (g) of carbohydrates, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If you can resist the urge to just pop them into your mouth, try berries in a parfait, alternating layers of fruit with plain nonfat yogurt — it makes a great dessert or breakfast for diabetes.
Tart Cherries Help Fight Inflammation
One cup of cherries has 52 calories and 12.5 g of carbs, per the USDA, and they may be especially good at fighting inflammation. Tart cherries are also packed with antioxidants, which may help fight heart disease, cancer, and other diseases, notes a review published in March 2018 in Nutrients. These fruits can be purchased fresh, canned, frozen, or dried. But since many canned and dried fruits contain added sugar, which can spike your blood sugar, be sure to check the labels.
Sweet, Juicy Peaches for Metabolism-Boosting Potassium
Fragrant, juicy peaches are a warm-weather treat and can also be included in your diabetes-friendly diet. One medium peach contains 59 calories and 14 g of carbohydrates, according to the USDA. It also has 10 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, which covers 11 percent of your daily value (DV) for that nutrient, and 285 mg of potassium (6 percent of the DV). The fruit is delicious on its own or tossed into iced tea for a fruity twist. When you want an easy diabetes-friendly snack, whip up a quick smoothie by pureeing peach slices with low-fat buttermilk, crushed ice, and a touch of cinnamon or ginger.
Apricots for a Scrumptious, Fiber-Rich Bite
Apricots are a sweet summer fruit staple and a wonderful addition to your diabetes meal plan. One apricot has just 17 calories and 4 g of carbohydrates, per the USDA. Four fresh apricots provide 134 micrograms (mcg) of your daily vitamin A requirement, which is 15 percent of your DV. These fruity jewels are also a good source of fiber. (Four apricots have 3 g of fiber, or 10 percent of the DV. Try mixing some diced fresh apricots into hot or cold cereal, or toss some in a salad.
Apples for a Quick Fibrous and Vitamin C–Rich Snack
An apple a day really might keep the doctor away. Toss one in your purse or tote bag if you’re on the go; a medium-size apple is a great fruit choice, with just 95 calories and 25 g of carbs, notes the USDA. Apples are also loaded with fiber (about 4 g per medium fruit, for 16 percent of your DV) and offer some vitamin C, with one midsize apple providing 8.73 mg or about 9 percent of the DV. Don’t peel your apples, though — the skins are nutritious, with extra fiber and heart-protective antioxidants, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
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:
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.