Is Pineapple Healthy for People With Diabetes?
If you’re among the more than 34 million Americans currently living with diabetes, you’ve probably read all sorts of articles about eating fruit. The common position is that fruits are high in carbohydrates, so they can turn your next blood sugar test into a spiked number you don’t want to see.
One fruit that gets a particularly bad rap is pineapple because along with the carbs it also packs a good amount of naturally occurring sugars. Yes, it can impact blood sugar more than some other fruits, but before scrapping the idea of enjoying this tropically delicious favorite altogether, let’s get into the facts about pineapple.
First off, fruits are definitely not off limits.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reminds us that fruit contains carbohydrates, and they must be counted as part of a diabetes meal plan. But they also remind us that fruits contain important vitamins and minerals that help the body function better. Many fruits are also rich in fiber, which aids in slowing digestion and can actually help stabilize blood sugar. Yes, you will have to manage your intake and swap out fruits for some other sources of carbs in your diet, such as starches or low-fat dairy products, but there’s no reason that fruit shouldn’t be part of your healthy diabetes diet.
Carb counting for diabetes.
Most individuals with diabetes aim for between 45 – 60 grams of carbs per meal, and somewhere between 15 and 20 carbs when indulging in a snack. It’s important to note that these numbers are general, and your diabetes carb targets may differ depending upon your individual blood sugar management program as prescribed by your diabetes physician. Many factors contribute to your desired carbohydrate target, including prescribed medications and activity level. However, as a rule, these target numbers are pretty common.
Diabetes, pineapple, and Glycemic Load
Now let’s look at how pineapple impacts blood sugar and your diabetes management program. To start, we’ll determine the Glycemic Load (GL) of pineapple, a measurement that tells us how much an average serving will likely spike blood sugar. This is different from the Glycemic Index (GI), which you may have heard about, as GI measures how much a portion containing 50 grams of carbs will elevate blood sugar. The formula for determining glycemic load is as follows:
Glycemic Index x carbs in an average portion ÷ 100
The GI of pineapple is 66 putting it in the higher range of the medium scale. However, when you consider that a portion size of pineapple might be roughly a half cup – there are 15 carbs in that half cup. So, following the formula above: 66 x 15 ÷ 100 = 9.9, which is the GL of pineapple and that’s in the lower range. In other words, if you limit your portion to a half cup, you shouldn’t experience a dramatic spike in blood sugar.
The abundance of sugar in pineapple
This is the real reason why pineapple has a reputation to be avoided. It’s true that many of the carbohydrates in pineapple are naturally occurring sugars which the body digests rapidly and, therefore, can result in a spike in blood sugar. In fact, a single 3oz slice of pineapple has 11 grams of carbohydrates and over 8 grams of those are from naturally occurring sugars. So, if you’re not carefully monitoring your portion sizes and what you are eating alongside the pineapple, you can elevate the numbers on that next blood sugar test you take.
How to eat pineapple
There’s another aspect of adding pineapple to your diet that has to be considered – and that’s how you eat it. After all, we do a lot of things with pineapple that can make it a trickier fruit to figure out. Let’s start by saying the best ways to eat pineapple are fresh-cut or frozen with nothing else added and no processing done to it.
Things can go awry when you move into canned and dried pineapple. Often, canned pineapple contains syrup which is loaded with sugar that only serves to compound the blood sugar spike you can expect. The same holds true for dried pineapple. You might not think so, but it also often contains added sugar that adds fuel to the fire.
What about pineapple juice? It’s also probably not the best bet. Just 1 ounce of pineapple juice can contain nearly 13 grams of carbohydrates, and to make matters worse, when you juice pineapple it removes the healthy fibers from it, which means that excess sugar enters the bloodstream more quickly than it would from raw pineapple. This, of course, can spike blood sugar – even if that pineapple juice is labeled unsweetened.
Good stuff in pineapple
For starters, pineapple is a far healthier way to satisfy that sweet tooth than candy, cookies or cakes. Additionally, while higher in sugar than some other choices, pineapple is a great source of Vitamin C, with one slice containing roughly 27 grams. That’s a good chunk of the recommended daily dose of 75mg for women and 90 mg for men. Pineapple also provides Vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and a host of antioxidants that are all beneficial to your health.
Moderation is the key.
As with many aspects of living with diabetes, when it comes to pineapple moderation is the key. You are going to have to monitor your intake and will likely need to make adjustments in other areas of your diet to compensate for the sugars and carbs in pineapple.
It’s also a good idea to pair pineapple with proteins and healthy fats such as seeds, nuts or avocado, which will help you feel fuller for longer and deter you from going overboard on pineapple.
The good news is pineapple is not off limits because you have diabetes. In fact, done right it can be a delicious and valuable addition to a balanced and healthy diabetes diet.
We hope you found this post informative and helpful. At Diabetic Warehouse, we committed to keeping you up to date with the latest topics and unique insights on living with diabetes. We’re also proud to help you stick to your doctor-prescribed diabetes treatment plan with a huge selection of diabetic supplies and equipment at prices up to 65% less than you’ll find at pharmacies and other suppliers.
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