Fruit makes a healthy option both as a snack and as part of a balanced meal. It contains many important nutrients, such as fiber. However, some fruits have a high sugar content, which can cause blood sugar to spike.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommend that people with diabetes include fruits as part of a balanced diet.
However, fruit can also be high in sugar. People with diabetes must keep a watchful eye on their sugar intake to avoid blood sugar spikes.
That said, there is a difference between the type of sugar in fruit and the type of sugar in other foods, such as chocolate and baked goods.
This article will explore which fruits a person with diabetes should eat and avoid and how they relate to diabetes.
In general, a person should not have to exclude fruit from their diet. In fact, one
However, it may be worth people who already have diabetes limiting their intake of the following fruits.
Fruits high in sugar
The glycemic index (GI) shows how much a certain food can raise a person’s blood sugar after they have eaten it.
If a food has a GI score of between 70 and 100, it is high in sugar. Some fruits with a score in this range include:
These fruits are still safe for a person with diabetes to eat. However, they should do so in moderation. Consuming larger portions of fruits that have lower GI scores may be more suitable for a person with diabetes.
Most other fruits have a low-to-medium GI score. Learn more about low and medium GI foods here.
The sugar myth
Many people believe that since fruit is often high in sugar, people with diabetes should avoid it.
However, the sugars in fresh fruit are not “free” sugars. Free sugars are added sugars and those present in honey, syrups, nectars, and unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices. The sugar in fresh fruit is fructose, which does not have much of an effect on a person’s blood sugar or insulin levels, according to one
Foods such as chocolate, baked goods, and some sodas have high levels of free sugars, which do cause spikes in blood sugar.
Fruits high in carbohydrates
According to Diabetes UK, the amount of carbs a person eats has the most impact on their blood sugar levels.
If a person is following a low carb diet, they should identify which carbs they are eating that are low in nutrients or unhealthy in other ways and cut those out first. Fresh fruit carries many health benefits, so it may not be first on the list.
This table outlines the carb content in several fruits compared with other high carb foods:
|1 medium apple||15–20 grams (g)|
|1 chocolate muffin||55 g|
|1 large banana||30 g|
|500 milliliters of an ordinary soda||54 g|
|1 serving of dried fruit||20 g|
However, the combination of fiber and simple sugars in fruit slows the absorption of sugar into the blood when a person eats whole fruits.
The results showed that people who consumed more whole fruit were less likely to develop the condition. People who drank larger amounts of fruit juice were more likely to develop the condition.
A person can also include dried fruit in their diet, as long as it was not dried with added sugar.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) confirm that dried fruit can be a good option for people with diabetes, but they should be mindful of the fact that portion sizes can be small.
The ADA suggest that people watch out for certain phrases on product labels. For example, they should opt for products with labels that say:
- packed in its own juices
- no added sugar
One way of replacing processed fruit in the diet is to freeze fresh fruits, such as banana slices. According to Diabetes UK, a person can mash this frozen fruit after a couple of hours to make healthy ice cream.
A person with diabetes should aim to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
According to Diabetes UK, the following amounts of fruit constitute one portion:
|small fresh fruit: 2 or more fruits||2 plums|
|2 kiwi fruit|
|medium sized fresh fruit: 1 fruit||1 apple|
|large fresh fruit: fewer than 1 fruit||half a grapefruit|
|a 5-centimeter (cm) slice of papaya|
|2 5-cm slices of mango|
|dried fruit: 30 g||1 heaped tablespoon of raisins, currants, or sultanas|
|2 dried figs|
|1 handful of banana chips|
|canned fruit in natural juice: as with fresh fruit||2 pear or peach halves|
|8 segments of grapefruit|
In various diets
The ADA also recommend including fresh, frozen, or canned fruit no matter what diet a person follows.
They recommend the following amounts of fruit based on three different diet types:
- The plate method: This diet involves one small whole fruit or half a cup of fruit salad, among the other foods it allows.
- Carb counting: One small whole fruit or half a cup of canned or frozen fruit has about 15 g of carbs. A person can substitute the fruit for another serving of carbs during a meal or day.
- GI: Most fruits have a low GI score due to their high fiber content, so they can feature in the diet of someone who follows the glycemic guide.
The ADA list several common fruits that people with diabetes may have in their diet. These include:
- honeydew melons
Fruit consumption is an important part of a person’s diet. Though fruits have a large amount of sugar, fresh fruit does not contain free sugars, which are what can affect a person’s blood sugar.
Fruits also have a high amount of fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.
Several studies have shown that consuming whole fruits can help lower the risk of developing diabetes.
Therefore, a person should look to cut other carbs from their diet and leave fruit as part of their normal dietary routine.