Apples can be a good snack for people with diabetes. They contain fiber, which may help prevent spikes in blood sugar. Most of their sugar comes from fructose, which may be more beneficial for insulin levels than glucose.

Apples also contain many nutrients. However, people with diabetes need to be aware of how apples may affect them in order to include this fruit in a balanced diet.

This article looks at how consuming apples and other fruits might affect people with diabetes.

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A 2019 meta-analysis of multiple studies involving 339,383 participants found that apple consumption may significantly decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.

However, people with diabetes need to be mindful of their carbohydrate intake to make sure their blood sugar levels stay stable throughout the day.

Sugar content

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a medium apple has about 25 grams (g) of carbohydrates in total, of which around 19 g come from sugar.

Apples also contain around 4 g of dietary fiber. Fiber may have beneficial effects on glucose metabolism, which could help prevent spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.

Most of the sugar in apples is naturally occurring fructose, which may affect the body differently from other sugars. Fructose is different from refined and processed sugars in packaged foods, like chocolate and cookies, which are linked to negative health outcomes.

A 2017 review found that replacing glucose or sucrose with fructose in foods or beverages led to lower peak blood sugar and insulin levels after a meal.

In addition, pairing fruits with healthy fat or protein may lower the spike in blood sugar and make a person feel full longer.

For more information, a person may want to consider discussing their individual nutrient needs with a registered dietitian or a diabetes educator.

Apples and the glycemic index

The glycemic index (GI) compares foods according to their likelihood of causing blood sugar spikes. GI scores range from 0 to 100. Water has the lowest score, and glucose has the highest.

The body absorbs carbohydrates and sugars quickly from foods with a high GI score, such as candies. The carbohydrates from foods with a low GI score enter the bloodstream more slowly, so there is a lower risk of a blood sugar spike.

Cornflakes, for example, score around 80 on the GI, depending on the brand and type. This is a high score. Apples, in comparison, score around 39. A food that scores under 55 is low GI.

Overall, apples may have a relatively low effect on insulin and blood sugar levels.

Apples and counting carbs

Current guidelines for diabetes management focus on individual needs, preferences, and goals.

Some doctors may suggest counting carbohydrates if they determine that this is feasible for a person, especially if the person is taking insulin.

Each person with diabetes will have an individualized daily carb goal. For those who choose to count carbohydrates, 1 small apple counts as 1 serving (15 g) of carbs.

It is still essential for people to monitor any changes they experience after eating an apple so that they know what to expect in their bodies. A person with diabetes needs to check their blood sugar level regularly.

A doctor will advise them on how often to check their blood sugar and what levels to aim for, as it will depend on the individual.

Blood glucose monitors are available for purchase online.

Some nutrition guidelines suggest that people with diabetes consume 8 to 10 servings of different fruits and vegetables per day.

A serving of fruit is equivalent to one medium apple, so a person with diabetes may consider incorporating this amount per day into their diet.

To keep their blood sugar level stable, it may be best to spread fruit intake throughout the day and pair it with a healthy fat or lean protein, such as almonds or cottage cheese.

Although red apples taste sweeter, green apples contain less sugar, more fiber, and more antioxidants.

They may also help lower blood sugar levels, which is crucial for people living with diabetes. When it comes to their GI rating, apples generally score about 34.

The table below shows some different types of apples alongside their sugar and carb content. Granny Smith apples tend to have the least sugar.

TypeTotal sugar content per 100 gTotal carbohydrates per 100 g
Granny Smith10.6 g14.1 g
Red Delicious
12.2 g
14.8 g
Honeycrisp12.4 g14.7 g
Fuji
13.3 g
15.6 g

However, fruits such as apples also contain healthy amounts of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. A person can eat any type of apple as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

Many people love apples for their simplicity, but they are also very nutritious.

The table below shows the nutritional content of one medium apple, weighing around 182 g.

Component Approximate amount
water156 g
energy95 calories
protein0.47 g
fat0.31 g
carbohydrates25.1 g, including 18.91 g of sugar
fiber4.4 g
calcium11 milligrams (mg)
iron0.22 mg
magnesium9 mg
phosphorus20 mg
potassium195 mg
sodium2 mg
zinc0.07 mg
vitamin C8.4 mg
folate5.5 micrograms

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 to 2025 recommend adults consume 22 to 34 g of fiber per day, depending on the person’s age and sex. The combination of fiber, water, and nutrients in an apple can make a person feel full.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, a compound that may help reduce inflammation. It also contributes to the healthy functioning of the immune system.

Specific flavonoids in apples, such as quercetin, may help improve blood glucose levels. A 2017 review found an association between eating apples and pears and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

All these factors make apples a good choice as a quick snack between meals.

Eating a varied diet rich in vegetables and fruit — including apples — is good for everyone, including people living with diabetes.

Learn more

Learn more about diabetes, nutrition, and diet.

A diet rich in vegetables and fruits is beneficial for everyone. Certain fruits provide more benefits than others, particularly for people with chronic health conditions.

Eating fruits in their whole, raw form provides the most benefits since they contain fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients.

Berries and cherries

Berries have lower levels of carbs than some other fruits. They are naturally high in antioxidants, flavonoids, and nutrients, which help boost the body’s immune system and overall health.

Like apples, cherries contain a natural compound called quercetin, which may stimulate insulin secretion. This may improve symptoms and reduce complications in those with type 2 diabetes.

Rich-colored berries such as the following may make healthy choices:

It is possible to buy berries fresh or frozen. Dried versions may be less filling but are also a healthy option. However, those with diabetes will need to check the labels for added sugar, as this is not always obvious.

Other fruits

A person with diabetes can eat any fruit in moderation, as long as they do not have an allergy.

The American Diabetes Association encourages the consumption of fruits. People with diabetes may consider adding other types of fruit besides apples to their diet, such as:

Most fruits have a low GI score, but the following have a medium or high score:

  • watermelon
  • pineapple
  • some dried fruits, such as dates

It is best for people with diabetes to monitor how different fruits affect their symptoms and blood sugar, as each person’s sensitivities may be different.

Learn more

Learn more about diabetes and other fruits.

According to nutritional guidelines, people with diabetes may consider avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages, such as fruit juices, to better manage their blood sugar levels.

However, an individual may be able to drink fruit juice depending on how their blood glucose levels react.

A 4-ounce serving of fruit juice contains about 15 g of carbohydrates. Being mindful of total carbohydrate intake during meals is important for managing diabetes, so it is best to include fruit juice in carbohydrate tracking.

Learn about drinks and blood sugar.

Are apples better than bananas for people with diabetes?

Yes, generally speaking, apples are better than overripe bananas for people with diabetes because they tend to have a lower glycemic index (GI). This means they have a smaller effect on blood sugar levels.

How many apples can a person with diabetes eat per day?

A person with diabetes can typically eat 1 to 2 apple servings per day, depending on the person’s carbohydrate tolerance and overall dietary balance.

Do apples raise your blood sugar?

Yes, apples can raise a person’s blood sugar due to their carbohydrate content. However, they tend to have a low glycemic index (GI), meaning they cause a slower and more gradual increase in blood sugar levels compared with high GI foods.

What is the best fruit for a person with diabetes?

Eating a variety of fresh, frozen, and canned fruit without added sugar is appropriate for people with diabetes.

In particular, berries such as strawberries and raspberries have a lower GI score and higher fiber content compared with many other fruits.

Apples are a highly nutritious food choice and can be a satisfying and healthy snack.

Regular monitoring of blood sugar after eating apples can help a person know how apples affect them. It is important to aim to eat a variety of fresh, healthy foods.

People may wish to opt for fresh apples rather than apple-derived products, as fresh apples contain more nutrients and fiber and do not have added sugar.