Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body fails to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. The best way to manage diabetes is to have a nutritious diet, a proper medicine plan, and an active lifestyle.
There is a common misconception that people with diabetes should avoid fruit altogether. However, certain fruits contain vitamins, minerals, natural carbs, and fibres essential for healthy body functioning.
Therefore, including these fruits in your diet can help manage your diabetes. HealthifyMe nutritionists have listed the fruits that are good for diabetes patients.
Fruits and Diabetes: Clearing the Air
While it is often advised that people with diabetes avoid sugary foods, this does not mean that you must avoid fruit altogether. Fruits are a nutritious option and contain natural sugar instead of processed sugar. When deciding what fruit to eat, it is essential to consider how much sugar it contains and its other nutritional benefits.
The glycemic index and glycemic load of fruits determine whether an individual with diabetes can eat them. The glycemic index of a food is how quickly the food will raise the blood sugar levels of an individual. The lower a fruit’s glycemic index, the slower blood sugar rises after eating that fruit. The glycemic load measures the rise in blood sugar based on the number of carbohydrates the fruit contains in an average serving.
When deciding on a diabetes-friendly fruit, the glycemic load is more reliable than the glycemic index. For example, the glycemic index of watermelon is 72, which is very high and can cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly. However, since watermelon is mostly water, the glycemic load in a serving of watermelon is only 4. Therefore, it suggests that consuming watermelon in its whole fruit form and in controlled portions is safe for everyone.
A study found that people with diabetes who ate fresh fruit had a lower risk of developing major vascular complications. The high soluble fibre in fruit slows down glucose absorption, which helps control blood sugar levels. Therefore, fruit can be a healthy part of a balanced diet for people with diabetes.
The HealthifyMe Note
The glycemic index, glycemic load, and amount of sugar or carbs in a fruit determine how good or bad that fruit is for diabetes. Fruits with low GI and GL values are the best for diabetic patients. But, people with diabetes should only eat a limited amount of fruit as their dietician recommends.
Fruits Safe for Diabetes Patients
A fruit’s glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) can help you choose which fruit to eat. For example, a fruit with a GI score of 55 or less has a low GI, 56-59 has a moderate GI, and 60 and above have a high GI. Similarly, for GL, foods with ten or less are considered low GL, 11-19 is considered moderate GL, and 20 and above is high GL.
Here are some diabetes-friendly fruits that are safe for moderate consumption.
Tart cherries are the best options for improving sugar levels and managing diabetes because they contain chemicals called anthocyanins that boost insulin production. One hundred grams of cherries contain approximately:
- Calories: 52
- Carbohydrates: 12.5 g
- GI: 20
- GL: 6
Apples are a popular fruit that offers vitamin C, soluble fibre and various nutrients. The polyphenol compounds in apple skin trigger the pancreas to produce insulin, lower insulin resistance, and thus reduce blood sugar levels. Apple is a good fruit for diabetes patients due to its high fibre content and presence of antioxidants. One hundred grams of apples contain approximately:
- Calories: 95
- Carbohydrates: 25 g
- GI: 36
- GL: 5
Pears are a great source of fibre and can be a healthy snack for your diabetes diet. In addition, pears are a healthy alternative to your sweet cravings due to their vitamin K, lutein, beta-carotene, retinol, and choline content. One hundred grams of pears contain approximately:
- Calories: 57
- Carbohydrates: 15 g
- GI: 20-49
- GL: 7
Jamun/ Indian Blackberry
Jamun is a fruit that can help treat diabetic symptoms such as excess urination and thirst. That is because it contains Jambosine and Jambolana (organic compounds), which slow the conversion of starch into sugar. One hundred grams of Jamun/Indian Blackberry contain approximately:
- Calories: 62
- Carbohydrates: 14 g
- GI: 25
- GL: 2.02
Guava contains high amounts of diabetes-friendly nutrients like dietary fibre, vitamins C, A, and potassium. It can help boost good bowel movements and maintain weight, making it an excellent choice for those with diabetes. One hundred grams of guava contains approximately:
- Calories: 68
- Carbohydrates: 14 g
- GI: 12
- GL: 1.3
Some other fruits on the list are:
- Peaches: 59 calories, 14 g carbohydrates, GI – 28, GL – 3
- Apricots: 17 calories, 4 g carbohydrates, GI – 34 GL – 9
- Oranges: 62 calories, 15 g carbohydrates, GI – 52 GL – 4.4
- Kiwi: 42 calories, 10 g carbohydrates, GI – 50 GL – 7.7
- Grapefruit: 42 calories, 11 g carbohydrates, GI – 25 GL – 1.2
- Strawberries: 32 calories, 8 g carbohydrates, GI – 41 GL – 3
- Plums: 46 calories, 11 g carbohydrates, GI – 24 GL – 2
- Pomegranate: 72 calories, 14 g carbohydrates, GI – 53 GL – 18
Things to Keep in Mind
- It is vital to keep track of portion sizes when eating dried fruit, as they can have the same amount of carbohydrates as fresh fruit. For example, approximately two spoonfuls of raisins have the same amount of carbohydrates as an apple.
- It is best to choose fresh fruit over dried or canned fruit, as processed and canned fruits often contain added sugar. It can cause a spike in blood glucose levels.
- If you do choose dried or canned fruit, be sure to check the labels first. Since many have added sugars, their serving sizes tend to be very small.
- Fruit juice is not a good option for diabetic individuals, as it does not contain enough fibre. Moreover, the Glycemic Load of juice will be higher than its whole-fruit form.
- You should eat fruit throughout the day instead of consuming all of it at once. For example, have one serving with breakfast and another as a snack instead of having two servings at breakfast. You may also have one serving as a mid-morning snack and another for an early-evening snack.
Many fruits are safe and healthy for people with diabetes. When choosing the fruits to add to your diabetes diet, keep in mind the portion size and check the nutrition profile of the fruit.
Some fruits have a low glycemic index and glycemic load value and are not harmful to diabetic persons. However, as with all foods, eating these fruits in moderation is essential.