What are the worst fruits for diabetics? Many people with diabetes don’t realize that there are certain fruits which may adversely affect their blood sugars, let alone potentially damage their bodies in other ways. It doesn’t matter if you have type 1 or 2 – I’ll show you why some fruits are best avoided.
What are the worst fruits for someone with diabetes?
Fruit makes a healthy option both as a snack and as part of a balanced meal. It contains many important nutrients, such as fiber. However, some fruits have a high sugar content, which can cause blood sugar to spike.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesTrusted Source recommend that people with diabetes include fruits as part of a balanced diet.
Eating fruits and vegetables may put a person at lower risk of developing heart disease and cancer. Fruit is also an important source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
However, fruit can also be high in sugar. People with diabetes must keep a watchful eye on their sugar intake to avoid blood sugar spikes.
That said, there is a difference between the type of sugar in fruit and the type of sugar in other foods, such as chocolate and baked goods.
This article will explore which fruits a person with diabetes should eat and avoid and how they relate to diabetes.
Fruits to avoid
In general, a person should not have to exclude fruit from their diet. In fact, one 2017 studyTrusted Source suggests that eating fruit can actually help prevent diabetes.
However, it may be worth people who already have diabetes limiting their intake of the following fruits.
Fruits high in sugar
The glycemic index (GI) shows how much a certain food can raise a person’s blood sugar after they have eaten it.
If a food has a GI score of between 70 and 100, it is high in sugar. Some fruits with a score in this range include:
- overly ripe bananas
These fruits are still safe for a person with diabetes to eat. However, they should do so in moderation. Consuming larger portions of fruits that have lower GI scores may be more suitable for a person with diabetes.
Most other fruits have a low-to-medium GI score
The sugar myth
Many people believe that since fruit is often high in sugar, people with diabetes should avoid it.
However, the sugars in fresh fruit are not “free” sugars. Free sugars are added sugars and those present in honey, syrups, nectars, and unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices. The sugar in fresh fruit is fructose, which does not have much of an effect on a person’s blood sugar or insulin levels, according to one 2017 articleTrusted Source.
Foods such as chocolate, baked goods, and some sodas have high levels of free sugars, which do cause spikes in blood sugar.
Fruits high in carbohydrates
According to Diabetes UK, the amount of carbs a person eats has the most impact on their blood sugar levels.
If a person is following a low carb diet, they should identify which carbs they are eating that are low in nutrients or unhealthy in other ways and cut those out first. Fresh fruit carries many health benefits, so it may not be first on the list.
This table outlines the carb content in several fruits compared with other high carb foods:
|1 medium apple||15–20 grams (g)|
|1 chocolate muffin||55 g|
|1 large banana||30 g|
|500 milliliters of an ordinary soda||54 g|
|1 serving of dried fruit||20 g|
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source state that drinking fruit juice during a meal or on its own quickly raises a person’s blood sugar levels.
However, the combination of fiber and simple sugars in fruit slows the absorption of sugar into the blood when a person eats whole fruits.
A 2013 research paperTrusted Source looked at how fruit consumption affects the likelihood that a person will develop type 2 diabetes.
The results showed that people who consumed more whole fruit were less likely to develop the condition. People who drank larger amounts of fruit juice were more likely to develop the condition.
A 2017 studyTrusted Source had similar results. The researchers found that fresh fruit consumption reduced a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They also found that people with diabetes who ate fresh fruit regularly had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular conditions or dying.
The Best and Worst Fruits to Eat If You Have Diabetes
Learn why people with diabetes should eat fruit—plus, find out which fruits are best and how much is OK to have each day.
Good news for fruit lovers everywhere: eating fresh fruit is associated with a lower risk of diabetes and a lower risk of complications if you already have the disease, according to a recent study published in PLOS Medicine.
If you’ve been steering clear of fruit because of the sugar content, there’s no reason to do so, according to this study. Over a seven-year time period, researchers analyzed the diet and health outcomes of more than 500,000 Chinese adults. The researchers found that higher fruit consumption was not associated with higher blood sugar, even for people with diabetes. Adults who consumed fruit more frequently actually had a lower risk of developing diabetes.
The study only analyzed fresh fruit consumption, not dried fruit or fruit juice, so we turned to a few registered dietitians and certified diabetes educators to clarify the best and worst fruits, appropriate serving sizes, and how many carbohydrates you should get from fruit each day.
First it’s important to note that “diabetes care is individualized,” says Staci Freeworth, R.D., C.D.E., and professor of nutrition at Bowling Green State University. This is why it is important for people with diabetes to see a certified diabetes educator. These specialists can break down how many carbohydrates you should be eating each day based on your individual needs and health history.
Best Fruits to Eat
Recipe to Try: Purple Fruit Salad
Whether you have diabetes or not, the consensus from dietitians is the same regarding which fruits are best to eat.
“The best fruits for everyone to eat are the ones that create the least influence on blood sugar, often termed ‘low glycemic load,’ even if you don’t have diabetes,” says Daphne Olivier, R.D., C.D.E., founder of My Food Coach. “These include fruits with rich, deep colors such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, dark cherries and kiwi. The rich color is a result of antioxidants-which we know help to neutralize free radicals-but there are also other benefits to antioxidants that we cannot explain.”
Amber Gourley, M.S., R.D., of the Disobedient Dietitian agrees: “As a general rule, I tell my clients to go for darker-colored fruits. Studies show that Americans don’t get enough dark purple and red fruits, and these fruits contain some of the best sources of anti-inflammatory antioxidants.”
Eat More of These Fruits:
- Dark cherries
Worst Fruits to Eat
Recipe to Try: Pineapple & Avocado Salad
One caveat: no fruit is “the worst.” All fruit delivers fiber and nutrients and can be part of a healthy diet. However, bananas, pineapples and mangoes get a bad rap for their higher sugar content compared to berries.
Don’t avoid them altogether, though. Instead, the focus should be on decreasing how quickly your blood sugar rises. For example, if you eat a banana by itself, your blood sugar will rise fairly quickly. “But if you pair fruit with foods that have healthy fats in them, such as blueberries with walnuts or apricots with mozzarella cheese, you will decrease the influence of the fruit on your blood sugar,” Olivier says. “These fats slow down the absorption of the glucose from fruit and prevent your blood sugar from spiking as high.” Nuts and nut butters, plain yogurt, cheese and even avocado will all help blunt your blood sugar response when eating fruit, due to their protein and fat content.
The advice you’ve heard to eat the whole fruit (like the Fresh Fruit Salad, pictured above) instead of drinking fruit juice follows the same reasoning. “The whole fruit has fiber, which is lost in the juice,” Gourley says. Fiber helps slow the absorption of the sugar. “It’s also easy to consume far more carbohydrates than necessary when drinking fruit juice,” she says.
The same goes for dried fruit: “Dried fruit is a great snack, but 1/4 cup has 15 grams of carbohydrates, so I suggest using dried fruit on salads or mixed into plain yogurt instead of eating it alone,” Gourley says.
Best and Worst Foods for Diabetes
Your food choices matter a lot when you’ve got diabetes. Some are better than others.
Nothing is completely off-limits. Even items that you might think of as “the worst” could be occasional treats — in tiny amounts. But they won’t help you nutrition-wise, and it’s easiest to manage your diabetes if you mainly stick to the “best” options.
Your body needs carbs. But you want to choose wisely. Use this list as a guide.
- Whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, or amaranth
- Baked sweet potato
- Items made with whole grains and no (or very little) added sugar
- Processed grains, such as white rice or white flour
- Cereals with little whole grains and lots of sugar
- White bread
- French fries
- Fried white-flour tortillas
Load up! You’ll get fiber and very little fat or salt (unless you add them). Remember, potatoes and corn count as carbs.
- Fresh veggies, eaten raw or lightly steamed, roasted, or grilled
- Plain frozen vegetables, lightly steamed
- Greens such as kale, spinach, and arugula. Iceberg lettuce is not as great because it’s low in nutrients.
- Low sodium or unsalted canned vegetables
Go for a variety of colors: dark greens, red or orange (think of carrots or red peppers), whites (onions) and even purple (eggplants). The 2015 U.S. guidelines recommend 2.5 cups of veggies per day.
- Canned vegetables with lots of added sodium
- Veggies cooked with lots of added butter, cheese, or sauce
- Pickles, if you need to limit sodium. Otherwise, pickles are OK.
- Sauerkraut, for the same reason as pickles. Limit them if you have high blood pressure.
They give you carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Most are naturally low in fat and sodium. But they tend to have more carbs than vegetables do.
- Fresh fruit
- Plain frozen fruit or fruit canned without added sugar
- Sugar-free or low-sugar jam or preserves
- No-sugar-added applesauce
- Canned fruit with heavy sugar syrup
- Chewy fruit rolls
- Regular jam, jelly, and preserves (unless you have a very small portion)
- Sweetened applesauce
- Fruit punch, fruit drinks, fruit juice drinks
You have lots of choices, including beef, chicken, fish, pork, turkey, seafood, beans, cheese, eggs, nuts, and tofu.
The American Diabetes Association lists these as the top options:
- Plant-based proteins such as beans, nuts, seeds, or tofu
- Fish and seafood
- Chicken and other poultry (Choose the breast meat if possible.)
- Eggs and low-fat dairy
If you eat meat, keep it low in fat. Trim the skin off of poultry.
Try to include some plant-based protein from beans, nuts, or tofu, even if you’re not a vegetarian or vegan. You’ll get nutrients and fiber that aren’t in animal products.
- Fried meats
- Higher-fat cuts of meat, such as ribs
- Pork bacon
- Regular cheeses
- Poultry with skin
- Deep-fried fish
- Deep-fried tofu
- Beans prepared with lard
Keep it low in fat. If you want to splurge, keep your portion small.
- 1% or skim milk
- Low-fat yogurt
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Low-fat or nonfat sour cream
- Whole milk
- Regular yogurt
- Regular cottage cheese
- Regular sour cream
- Regular ice cream
- Regular half-and-half
Fats, Oils, and Sweets
They’re tough to resist. But it’s easy to get too much and gain weight, which makes it harder to manage your diabetes.
- Natural sources of vegetable fats, such as nuts, seeds, or avocados (high in calories, so keep portions small)
- Foods that give you omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel
- Plant-based oils, such as canola, grapeseed, or olive oils
- Anything with trans fat in it. It’s bad for your heart. Check the ingredient list for anything that’s “partially hydrogenated,” even if the label says it has 0 grams of trans fat.
- Big portions of saturated fats, which mainly come from animal products but also are in coconut oil and palm oil. Ask your doctor what your limit should be, especially if you have heart disease as well as diabetes.
When you down a favorite drink, you may get more calories, sugar, salt, or fat than you bargained for. Read the labels so you know what’s in a serving.
What Are The Worst Fruits For People With Diabetes?
Diabetes can make it hard to know what you should and shouldn’t eat to keep your blood sugar levels under control. The following fruits are typically best avoided by those with diabetes as they tend to have the highest glycemic indexes, meaning they raise blood sugar levels faster than many other foods.
If you have diabetes, it’s important to avoid these fruits at all costs to avoid over-or under-consuming them, depending on the kind of diabetes you have and how your body responds to them.
Fruits to avoid
Most people in today’s health-conscious world think of fruit as a good source of nutrition. Unfortunately, some fruits can cause blood sugar levels to spike dangerously high, leading to hypoglycemia and even diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). The bottom line: If you have diabetes, avoid these ten fruits.
One small banana has about 14 grams of sugar, making it one of the highest sources of natural sugars in fruit. While it is nutritious, your body breaks down bananas quickly, giving you a spike in blood sugar levels that’s not sustainable. That quick burst of energy can cause problems if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia. If you do eat a banana, try to pair it with other foods to help slow its digestion and absorption into your bloodstream.
This might come as a surprise, but apples contain a form of sugar called fructose that’s worse than plain white sugar. Eating apples causes your blood glucose levels to spike within hours and makes your body produce excess insulin.
Excess insulin production is one of the key factors that lead to obesity and can cause you to be type 2 diabetic. Apple slices also have very little nutritional value, meaning they won’t give you any nutrients other than carbohydrates, which convert into sugar in your body.
Rich in glucose, grapes cause blood sugar to spike rapidly. While it’s still possible to manage your levels when you consume them (with a meal), it’s important to keep an eye on how many you’re eating. A half-cup of grapes has about 10 grams of sugar, so monitor your intake accordingly and adjust as needed. This is especially true if you’re taking medication to control your blood sugar. If you have type 1 diabetes, avoid all forms of grapefruit due to its high fructose content.
While nectarines have a lower sugar content than other popular varieties of fruit like apples, pears, and peaches, they’re still chock-full of natural sugars. Because of their higher sugar content, diabetics should avoid nectarines (and most fruits) while trying to keep their blood sugar levels stable. You can get your vitamin C fix from other sources like oranges, which have about half as much sugar as nectarines, or try some berries!
Raspberries contain about 5 grams of fibre per cup and just 4 grams of naturally occurring sugar the same amount you’ll find in an apple or pear. Berries also contain antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation throughout your body.
Peaches contain a lot of sugar, which is bad news for people with diabetes. While having one peach every once in a while isn’t going to cause you any harm, make sure that you don’t eat them in excess. Instead, opt for other lower-sugar fruit options such as blueberries or raspberries. You can also enjoy canned peaches without worrying about raising your blood sugar levels because they have been preserved without added sugars.
Fruits come in many different forms, and it’s all too easy to get stuck on what you can’t eat and forget about what you can. Even if the fruit isn’t typically recommended for diabetics, there may be more benefits than drawbacks to eating that fruit every once in a while. That being said, some fruits should be avoided altogether by those who have diabetes, these include pears.
One medium pear contains around 17 grams of sugar that’s nearly as much as two Oreo cookies! If you want to indulge in something sweet, opt for an apple or orange instead. Both of these fruits contain fiber and antioxidants that will help keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. If you’re still craving something fruity after making smart choices at breakfast and lunch, try a small handful of berries instead of grabbing another piece of fruit.
Many people think oranges are healthy, but they contain a lot of sugar. Avoid them if you have diabetes. They’re best to eat in moderation because they also contain fibre and vitamin C. If you can’t give up oranges completely, try eating smaller portions and see how your blood glucose levels respond. Don’t be surprised if your blood glucose levels spike after eating an orange, it happens often! Instead of enjoying one big orange at once, cut it into segments or slices so that you can consume it slowly over time.
When it comes to diabetic foods, plums can be a bit confusing. Are they good for people with diabetes or not? The short answer is yes but there’s a caveat. Plums can affect blood sugar levels, and people who suffer from type 2 (the most common form of diabetes) should take note. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid plums altogether.