Oranges are a healthy and nutritious fruit with many health benefits. A person living with diabetes can safely eat oranges if they consume them in moderation.

Diabetes is a chronic condition where a person may experience difficulties managing their blood sugar levels. This may be due to the body producing insufficient levels of insulin or the body not using the hormone effectively.

For individuals with diabetes, it is important to consider the effects of different foods on their blood sugar levels. Oranges can make a healthy addition to an eating plan and can help manage the condition. However, it is important for individuals to consider portion sizes and how this may affect their blood sugars.

Read on to learn more about the effects of consuming oranges on people with diabetes.

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There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body control blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes typically occurs due to insulin resistance, which is when the body no longer responds to insulin correctly.

Oranges are round citrus fruits that have notes of sweetness and tartness. According to the Department of Agriculture, oranges are the second most preferred fruit choice in the United States, behind apples.

In general, oranges are a safe fruit choice for people living with diabetes. They have a low to moderate glycemic index (GI) of around 43.

GI refers to the speed at which food raises blood sugar levels. That said, it is important to consider both portion sizes and individual factors into account. For example, these factors can include personal blood sugar response and overall dietary needs.

If in any doubt, a person can consult with their healthcare team or a registered dietician.

Oranges may offer several health benefits for individuals with diabetes. This may include:

High fiber

Oranges are a suitable source of dietary fiber. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fiber does not cause a spike in blood sugar the way other carbohydrates can. This is because the body cannot absorb and break down fiber. As such, this can help keep a person’s blood sugar in their target range.

Read on to learn more about how fiber may help with diabetes.

Vitamin C

Oranges are high in vitamin C, which supports immune function and plays a role in collagen synthesis. This process is essential for healthy skin, bones, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, meaning it can help the body fight off free radicals, which are molecules that can be harmful to the body.

While more research is necessary, a 2021 systematic review of short-term studies suggests vitamin C supplements may help improve glycemic control and blood pressure in those with type 2 diabetes. However, while consuming whole foods containing vitamin C, such as oranges, is advisable, it is unlikely that just consuming supplements will provide much benefit.

Read on to learn more about how vitamins may help with diabetes.

Anthocyanin content

Anthocyanins are a group of antioxidants present in certain fruits and vegetables, including oranges. High levels of this pigment are responsible for blood oranges being red. A 2023 review suggests that anthocyanins may possess anti-diabetic properties. While more research is necessary, anthocyanins may help by reducing inflammation and modulating glucose metabolism.

Hypocholesterolemic agents

While more research is necessary, oranges may contain hypocholesterolemic agents. This means that oranges may help lower a person’s cholesterol levels. Evidence notes that those with diabetes are more prone to having high cholesterol levels, which can increase their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

As such, controlling cholesterol levels can help maintain optimum health and reduce the risk of CVD and other cardiovascular complications. For example, people may find it beneficial to replace certain snacks, such as chips and cookies, with whole fruits such as oranges.

Read on to learn more about the relationship between diabetes and cholesterol.

Oranges are generally safe for people with diabetes to eat. However, as with many dietary suggestions, moderation is important. For people who inject insulin as part of their diabetes treatment, they may want to consider adjusting their dosages accordingly when consuming oranges.

The acidity of oranges may also cause some people to experience gastrointestinal discomfort, such as heartburn or acid reflux.

It is worth noting that some orange juice drinks may have a higher GI and contain additional sweeteners. This may be helpful if a person is experiencing a hypoglycemic event. This is because fruit juices can typically increase a person’s blood sugar much faster than the fruit as a whole. As such, it is advisable to look at the nutritional label for information on sugar content.

However, regularly consuming orange juice may make it difficult to manage blood sugar levels. Instead, it may be more appropriate to consume the fruit as a whole when possible.

Oranges can be a refreshing addition to a number of meals. For example, a person may consider adding oranges to salads, placing fresh oranges on salmon, or adding orange segments to a breakfast bowl.

When incorporating oranges into their eating plan, a person with diabetes may want to consider the following areas:

  • Portion size: Instead of consuming multiple oranges, consider opting for one small to medium sized orange, which contains approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Pairing oranges with protein or healthy fats: Combining oranges with a source of protein or healthy fats can help slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, minimizing blood sugar spikes.
  • Choosing the whole fruit over juice: Orange juice contains less fiber than consuming orange slices or segments.

Oranges can be a safe and flavorsome addition to the eating plan of people living with diabetes. They also carry health benefits due to their high fiber and vitamin C content. As with other foods, a person living with diabetes needs to consider their personal blood sugar responses and overall dietary needs when it comes to their diet.