At some point, you may have heard that you cannot eat fruit if you have . Or. maybe someone told you that you can eat fruit, just not extra-sweet ones like grapes or .
Neither of these statements is entirely true. You can enjoy fruit if you have diabetes, but you simply need to make strategic decisions about which fruits to eat and how much.
This article explains the ways that fruit can impact diabetes, both positively and negatively, as well as which fruits to favor or limit—and why.
Fruits have many health benefits, some of which are helpful to people living with diabetes. But, there are also potential risks to eating fruit, particularly in your blood sugar is not controlled.
There are many "pros" to eating fruit if you have diabetes. Some are nutritionally dense and others contain compounds that help reduce and damage caused by .
Among the benefits of adding fruit to a diabetes-friendly diet are:
When choosing fruit, you'll want to think about portion size, convenience, cost, and flavor. But it is also important to consider the health benefits as well.
On the flip side, there are potential risks to eating fruit if you have diabetes. In most cases, the benefits will outweigh the risks as long as you maintain portion control and avoid overconsumption.
Even so, be aware of the following "cons" if you have diabetes:
For these reasons, people with diabetes need to and advise their healthcare provider about any drugs they take to avoid interactions.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that you choose fruits that have a low . The glycemic index is used as a reference to measure how much a carbohydrate-containing food raises your blood glucose. A high GI food will raise blood glucose more than a medium or low GI food.
Here is how certain fruits compare on the glycemic index:
Most fruits have a low to moderate GI, except pineapple and watermelon. That doesn't mean you can never eat pineapple or watermelon unless it causes a blood sugar spike.
It is also important to note that fructose levels tend to increase the more that fruit ripens, amplifying its impact on your blood sugar.
Even so, some nutritious foods have a higher GI than foods with little nutritional value. As such, don't use a food's GI as the sole determining factor as to which you should eat. A healthy diet should always be balanced to meet your daily nutritional needs.
If you have diabetes and enjoy fruit, it is always best to opt for whole fruit rather than dried fruits or juices. This includes fresh, frozen, or canned whole fruit (as long as no sugars are added).
Dried fruits may be a problem because they are higher in carbohydrates per serving than natural whole fruit. They may also contain added sugar (particularly with products like dried cranberries or banana chips), Dried fruits can also be lower in fiber if the skin has been removed before dehydration.
Fruit juices pose similar risks even when there is no added sugar. That's because the flesh of the fruit, which contains fiber, is discarded during the juicing process. Moreover, with juices, you may be drinking more fruit than you would eat. Pasteurized juice or juices made from concentrates often have very high fructose levels.
Here are two examples of what one portion of dried fruit or juice can contribute to your blood sugar:
The ADA recommends that about 45% of your daily calorie intake come from carbohydrates. If you are following a consistent carbohydrate meal plan, you need to factor in fruit as a carbohydrate choice.
Try to stick with one fruit serving per meal or snack. Limit your fruit servings to no more than about two to three per day.
Keep in mind that one fruit serving is about 15 grams of carbohydrates. How much of each fruit you can eat within that one-serving limit will depend on the type of fruit.
Here is a list of what is considered one serving of common whole fruits:
Pairing fruit with protein can help slow down any rise in blood sugar. You can do this by including fruit in your meal allotment for carbohydrates or by adding protein to your fruit snack.
Here are some examples
If you have diabetes, eating fruit can sometimes be of concern. That's because the carbohydrates in fruit can cause blood sugar to rise.
Even so, fruit is an important part of a healthy diet when you have diabetes, providing fiber that can limit blood sugar spikes. It can also help lower cholesterol, which is especially important given that diabetes can put you at an increased risk for heart disease.
If you have diabetes, focus on eating whole fruit rather than dried fruit or juices. You should also favor fruits that are low on the GI index, keeping an eye on portion sizes and the carb count.