If you have diabetes, chances are someone has mentioned that you should avoid fruit. In fact, whole fresh fruit is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This makes fruit a nutrient-dense food group that can certainly be part of a healthy diabetes treatment plan.
However, people with diabetes should be cautious. Certain fruit choices may affect blood sugar levels more than others. This article will discuss how to make an informed decision about the fruit you eat.
fructose in fruit
The sugar found in fruit is called fructose. It is rapidly broken down or metabolized by the liver. In the process, fructose bypasses an enzyme that signals when cells are overloaded with sugar.
If you eat a lot of fructose at one time, such as by drinking a beverage with high fructose corn syrup, this can raise blood sugar levels. However, this is less likely when you eat whole fresh fruit. Research shows that eating fresh fruit does not have a significant negative impact on blood sugar control.
Fresh fruit is rich in fiber, minerals and antioxidants. These all work together to support healthy glucose (blood sugar) levels. A study found that people with diabetes who ate fresh fruit three days a week had a lower risk of developing vascular complications, including stroke.
Certain fruits may cause your blood sugar to rise faster than others, depending on their fiber and fructose content. However, everyone responds to food differently, so measuring blood sugar response can be tricky. While one person can eat bananas with no problem, another person may find that bananas cause their blood sugar to spike.
Testing your blood sugar before and after eating fruit can help you determine which fruit is best for you.
The role of fiber
The soluble and insoluble fiber found in fruit can help prevent blood sugar spikes by slowing digestion. It may also help flush cholesterol out of the heart, increasing satiety and thus reducing food intake.
Fiber content may vary depending on the state of the fruit itself. Fresh whole fruit contains the most fiber because the cell walls are intact. Cooking breaks down the fibrous structure in fruit. While this can make digestion easier, it also means sugars are more easily absorbed.
A large retrospective study found that a high-fiber diet (including fiber from supplements or food) improved glycemic control by reducing hemoglobin A1C levels by 0.55% and fasting blood glucose levels by 9.97 mg/dL.
Your best bet is to look for fruits with edible peels, such as apples, pears, and berries. Limit those that require peeling, such as bananas and melons.
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Darker-hued fruits—such as deep reds, purples, and blues—are often rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are plant-based compounds that fight free radicals, which are chemicals that can damage cells. Antioxidants are thought to help the body repair from all kinds of stress.
These dark pigments come from compounds called anthocyanins, which research suggests may help ward off chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease. The more color your food has, the more antioxidants it may have. Cutting out fruit entirely means you’re missing out on these plant powerhouses.
Research shows that the antioxidants in fruit can help prevent inflammation, a major problem in chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes. Eating more fruits and vegetables can reduce inflammatory markers and improve your immune response to disease, according to a review of studies.
Red, purple or blue fruits are usually rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent inflammation in the body that can lead to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
Limit the types of fruit
If you have diabetes, there are several fruits that should only be eaten in small amounts. Dried fruits, fruit juices, and fruits high in sugar and low in fiber should generally be limited or avoided.
Dried fruit, while delicious in assorted dried fruit and salads, is an ultra-concentrated form of whole fruit that has undergone a drying process. This results in a higher carbohydrate content per serving than fresh whole fruit. Dried fruit may also contain added sugars and be lower in fiber if the peel has been removed.
Just 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of raisins has 100 calories, 23 grams of carbohydrates and 18 grams of sugar. This yields nearly 5 teaspoons of sugar. By comparison, 1 cup of fresh grapes has 62 calories, 16 grams of carbohydrates and 15 grams of sugar.
Even 100% fruit juice can raise blood sugar. With nearly all of the fiber removed, the body doesn’t have to do as much work to break down the sugars in the juice. Thus, the juice is rapidly metabolized and raises blood sugar within minutes.
Juice can also provide a lot of calories without making you feel full. This may be detrimental to weight loss and may even promote weight gain.
If you drink fruit juice, try mixing it with water to reduce the amount. You can also try making your own juice from whole fruits and vegetables.
Another option is to replace the juice entirely with fresh or frozen whole fruit. Do it as much as possible to reap the great benefits of fiber and nutrients.
Researchers in one study found that drinking fruit juice increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Eating whole fruits like blueberries, grapes, and apples has been linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
high blood sugar fruit
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how much certain foods affect blood sugar. These numbers can vary depending on how the fruit is prepared, but the index may be helpful in meal planning for people with diabetes.
The riper the fruit, the higher its glycemic index. This means that ripe fruit raises your blood sugar more than foods with a low glycemic index.
Although the glycemic index is not a perfect system, Diabetics should refer to when choosing to eat fruits. The higher the GI index, the more likely your choices are to interfere with your blood sugar (blood sugar) control.
A glycemic index of 56 and above is considered high. Some examples of high GI foods include:
- Pineapple (GI=56)
- Banana (GI = 58)
- Watermelon (GI=72)
low blood sugar fruit
A GI of 55 and below is considered low. Examples of low GI foods include:
- Blackberry (GI=4)
- Grapefruit (GI=25)
- Apple (GI=38)
The glycemic index can give you an idea of how food affects your blood sugar. The higher the GI, the more likely it is that your blood sugar will rise.
Types of fruits included
There is no “good” or “bad” fruit (or food, for that matter). However, if you want to get the most nutritional value, look for fruits that are high in fiber.
For example, you can eat 1 1/4 cups of strawberries for 60 calories, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 3.5 grams of fiber and 7.5 grams of sugar. This is similar to 1/2 a medium banana, which is 60 calories, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of sugar.
It is also important to choose a wide variety of fruits. A study found that the more variety of fruits and vegetables, the lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries provide particularly valuable health benefits for people with diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
Berries are rich in vitamin C, folate, fiber, and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. Studies have shown that a diet rich in berries is associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Berries may aid in glucose metabolism and weight regulation.
Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes, contain high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium. The phytonutrients found in citrus have been shown to reduce inflammation, reduce cell damage and prevent cardiovascular disease.
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Pay close attention to the section
When choosing fruit, try to stick to one serving of fruit per meal or snack.
Remember, one serving of fruit is equivalent to about 15 grams of carbohydrates. How much of each fruit you can eat within a serving limit depends on the type of fruit. Here is a list of common complete fruits:
- 1 small (4 oz) apple, orange, peach, pear, or plum
- 1/2 medium banana
- 2 small oranges or 1 large orange (4 ounces total)
- 2 small kiwis (2 ounces each)
- 4 small apricots (1 ounce each)
- 1 cup melon (cantaloupe, watermelon, or honeydew)
- 17 small grapes or cherries
- 1/3 medium mango
- 1 1/4 cups strawberries
- 3/4 cup blueberries
- 1 cup raspberries or blackberries
If you don’t eat dried fruits and juices, you’ll have a better chance of controlling your blood sugar. Plus, it helps pair the fruit with protein or fat. For example, make top cheese with pineapple, add berries to a protein smoothie, or dip apple slices in nut butter or tahini.
When choosing fruit, look for a wide variety of fruits for maximum nutritional value. Berries and citrus fruits are especially good choices for reducing inflammation and preventing chronic disease. Watch your portion size to make sure you’re not eating too many carbs.
How to Create a Diabetes-Friendly Meal Plan
Fresh fruit contains fiber, minerals and antioxidants and is an important part of a healthy diet. Opting for whole, fresh fruit, rather than dried fruit or juice, can provide fiber and nutrients and help limit blood sugar spikes. You may want to test your blood sugar before and after eating fruit to help determine which is best for you.
If you’re following a diabetes-friendly meal plan, there’s no real reason for you to skip fruit altogether. Fresh fruit can be a nutritional powerhouse as long as you control the portion. Make sure to work with a dietitian or dietitian to determine the right fruit intake for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What fruit has the highest sugar content?
According to the glycemic index, pineapple, banana and watermelon are the three fruits with the highest sugar content. Dried fruit has higher sugar content than fresh fruit by volume. The dehydration process removes water, resulting in a higher concentration of sugar.
What fruit has the lowest carbohydrate content?
Berries are the best choice for low-carb fruits. Strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries have 8 grams or less of carbs per half-cup serving. Blueberries contain 11 grams of carbohydrates per 1/2 cup.
Melons are also low in carbs, with less than 8 grams per half cup of honeydew, cantaloupe, casaba and watermelon.
Which fruits should diabetics avoid?
People with diabetes do not need to avoid all fruits. In fact, most people with diabetes can eat any type of fruit in moderation. Fruits are rich in nutrients and fiber.
That said, the keyword is moderate. Certain fruits may affect your blood sugar more than others, but everyone is different. Understanding how individual fruits affect your personal blood sugar levels is a matter of testing your blood sugar and trying different foods.
Some diabetics use fruit to raise low blood sugar. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist about adding fruit to your diet.