Fruits for Diabetes
If you’re someone living with diabetes, you already know that the food you eat has a tremendous impact on how well you control blood sugar levels and manage your condition. The general rule is that you should do your best to limit certain foods that contain high amounts of sugar or carbohydrates. For the most part, this is absolutely true. However, one food group – fruits – has gotten somewhat of a bad rap when it comes to eating well for diabetes.
While it’s true that fruits can be high in sugar and carbs, the fact is organizations like the American Diabetes Association and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases both recommend eating fruit as part of a healthy diabetes diet plan. Why is that?
First, not all sugars are created equal
It’s only logical that because fruits often contain high volumes of sugar, they should be avoided right? Wrong. The sugars found in fresh fruits are not what are referred to as “free sugars”, the kind you’d find in sodas, chocolates, baked goods and processed foods.
Fresh fruit contains “fructose”, which has been shown not have a significant impact on blood sugar or insulin levels. Yes, eating fruit can still elevate blood glucose, however, it’s not the same as eating refined and processed sugars. In fact, according to the ADA, most fruits (not all, but most) have a low glycemic index (GI) due to their fructose and fiber content, which means they will not dramatically impact blood glucose levels.
Second, fruit is really good for you
Eating fruit is healthy. It can be a powerful source of fiber, which is known to help better regulate blood sugar. Additionally, fruit is a great source of vitamins and minerals, an excellent way to get those much-needed antioxidants, and, for the most part, makes for a deliciously low-calorie, heart-healthy, and diabetes friendly snack. In fact, it’s believed that fresh fruit, thanks to its fiber content, minerals and antioxidants may actually contribute to healthy glucose regulation.
Just as eating right is an important part of living with diabetes, following your doctor’s prescribed care plan is critical to managing your blood sugar level. At Diabetic Warehouse, we provide a full selection of doctor recommended supplies, including glucose meters, lancets and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring devices (CGM), insulin pumps and infusion sets. We invite you to shop our huge online selection and save up to 65% on leading names, such as Dexcom, FreeStyle, Accu-Chek, One Touch, Easy Comfort, OmniPod and many others.
What fruits are good and what fruits are bad for diabetes?
Enough with the good and bad. The truth is, as a general rule, there are really no fruits that you should be forced to eliminate from your diet. Remember, fruit is generally good for you. However, as with many foods and managing diabetes, eating smart sometimes means erring on the side of moderation and fruits are no different.
There are certain fruits you should be a little more careful when consuming. Not because they are bad for you, but because they have higher GI scores than other fruits and therefore can elevate blood sugar levels more dramatically.
Fruits with GI scores that trend high - between 70 and 80 include:
– Extremely ripe bananas
Again, even if you have diabetes, there is nothing wrong with consuming these fruits. You just need to watch your portion sizes. Or you might consider snacking on a fruit with a lower GI score, instead.
Some fruits with low GI scores – 55 or below include:
Counting carbohydrates? Make 15 grams your magic number.
Counting carbohydrates is nothing new for those of us with diabetes and you can feel free to apply this to fruit. According to the ADA, the goal for one fruit serving should be a target of 15g of carbohydrates, and you should not have more than one serving per meal or snack. However, it’s worth noting that fruits, which carry many health benefits, may be a good replacement for some of those less healthy carbs you might be consuming.
So, what does 15 grams of carbs look line in terms of a typical fruit snack or dessert? Here’s quick guide:
– 1 small piece (approximately 4 ounces) of apple, orange, peach, pear or plum
– ½ banana
– 1 large tangerine
– 4 small apricots
– 1 cup of melon
– 17 grapes or cherries
– 1 cup of raspberries or blackberries
You don’t have to avoid fruit, but sometimes you should avoid what they’ve done to it
You can’t go wrong with fresh, seasonal fruit. However, we all know that fresh fruit doesn’t stay fresh forever and sometimes that can pose a problem. We’ve all tossed away over-ripe or rotten fruit that we simply never got around to eating and that’s a shame.
The good news is frozen, canned, and dried fruit can be just as healthy as long as no sugar or syrups have been added to corrupt the natural goodness. It’s up to you to be vigilant. For example, a lot of dried fruits add processed sugar, which is not going to lead to a good reading on that glucose meter or CGM device the next time you test your blood sugar. Additionally, canned fruits often include syrups and other sweeteners. Read those labels carefully before purchasing and make sure they clearly state things like:
– Packed in its own juices
– No sugar added
– No sugars or additives
You should also avoid fruit juices, as even 100% fruit juice brands can spike blood sugar. This is because the juicing process removes all the fiber from the fruit and, therefore, the body doesn’t have to work as hard to metabolize the sugar. This enables the body to break down sugars faster, which can lead to a rapid rise in your blood glucose level.
Get the best of both worlds - freeze fresh fruit.
A favorite trick for many people with diabetes is to buy fresh fruit and freeze it. Granted, not ever fruit freezes all that effectively. For instance, it’s probably not the best idea to freeze fresh grapefruit or other citrus fruits. However, fruits like grapes, berries, bananas, mango, papaya and other great sources of fiber and vitamins do freeze easily.
Want a tasty ice-cold treat? Frozen grapes are delicious - sort of like bite-sized popsicles. Or mash up half of a frozen banana with a few blackberries for a naturally delicious ice-cream-style treat.
Sometimes, eating right with diabetes just takes a little extra imagination.
Good news fruit fanatics – there are no bad fruit choices when it comes to your diabetes health. Yes, there are some fruits that shouldn’t be eaten quite as freely or frequently as others but monitoring what you eat with diabetes is nothing new, and these are still delicious and healthy additions to your diet. The fact is, there’s no reason at all that you should have to avoid any fruit entirely, unless so directed by your diabetes physician, which brings us to our final point.
If you haven’t done so already, it’s a great idea to sit down and talk about fruits, vegetables and all your dietary choices with your diabetes physician and care team. They’ll help you decide what’s best for your individual diabetes health plan and blood sugar measurements. As always, never make any dramatic changes to your diet without first consulting your doctor and care team.
Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including test strips, syringes and needles, glucose meters, continuous glucose monitoring systems, infusion sets, and more, visit www.diabeticwarehouse.org.