Portion sizes

Managing diabetes successfully is about managing a combination of blood glucose levels. Diabetics do not have to avoid fruit, but they should adhere to sensible portion sizes and watch their overall carb intake.
Managing diabetes successfully is about managing a combination of blood glucose levels. Diabetics do not have to avoid fruit, but they should adhere to sensible portion sizes and watch their overall carb intake.

People with diabetes are no strangers to the age-old myth that they need to avoid fruits altogether because of their sugar content. But fruits together with vegetables are recommended as a part of a healthy diet to help prevent chronic diseases. They also provide your body with vital nutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals.

While you don’t need to cut out fruits altogether, there are several factors that people with diabetes should keep in mind when consuming fruits.

‌Keep in mind recommended portion sizes. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), we should be aiming for 2 to 3 cups of vegetables and 1 ½ cups of fruit per day. If eating fruit on its own is a struggle try adding it to your meals. 

  • Make a healthy breakfast of low-fat granola, low-fat yogurt, and berries
  • Add peanut butter to whole-grain toast and eat with sliced bananas. 

Manage your carb content

Managing diabetes successfully is about managing a combination of blood glucose levels, the amount of fat in your diet, your weight, and your blood pressure. Fruits and vegetables can help you balance these to a great extent but you also have to manage your overall carb intake. 

Fruits on their own usually have a medium GI (Glycaemic Index). This means they don’t cause your blood glucose levels to spike sharply the way other carbohydrate-rich foods like bread do. 

Fruits on their own usually do not cause high blood glucose levels. Diets that include high-carb foods such as sugary fizzy drinks, cookies, snacks, and candy are often the main culprit. Cutting out starchy and processed foods with high carb, fat, salt, and sugar content is recommended to normalize your blood glucose levels.  

Some fruits are better than others for people with diabetes

‌According to research findings, even though fruits are generally recommended for the prevention of diabetes, some fruits may be better than others.

Eating whole fruits like blueberries, grapes, and apples has been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, drinking fruit juices has been linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes

Even eating just two servings of blueberries, grapes, and apples per week can lead to a 23% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. For reference, one serving, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture is equal to 1 medium-sized whole fruit or ½ cup of fruit.

Color is also a great indicator of fruits that are good for you. The more variety in color, the better. This variety gives you access to a range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Oranges and strawberries from the yellow and red category, for example, are also great alternatives.

Whole fruits are better than fruit juice

It's best to avoid juice drinks. Having one or more servings of fruit juice can cause your risk to increase by as much as 21%.  

It’s easy to get through a lot more juice in a short space of time with the end result that you end up adding more natural sugars without the beneficial fiber found in whole fruits. This can cause your blood sugar levels to rise and cause you to gain weight.   

Opt for whole fruits instead of drinking fruits in the form of juice.

Avoid processed fruits, limit dried fruits

‌People with diabetes should avoid canned fruits and processed fruits such as applesauce. These can lead to a rapid increase in blood sugar. Look for sugar or hidden sugars on the labelling in the form of brown sugar, maltose,  honey, corn syrup, cane sugar, and fruit juice concentrate.

Dry fruits are another healthy alternative but it’s easy to get carried away. Two tablespoons of raisins are the equivalent of one small apple, so watch your portion size and limit your intake as needed. 

Conclusion

‌It is recommended to eat fruits as a part of a healthy diet to prevent or manage diabetes. Some fruits like blueberries, grapes, and apples are seen to be better than others for type 2 diabetes. Manage your overall carb intake, keep track of portion sizes and eat whole fruits instead of juices and processed fruits, to get the best benefits for your health.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/5/2021
References
SOURCES:

Diabetes UK: "MYTH: I CAN'T EAT FRUIT IF I HAVE DIABETES."

Cleveland Clinic: "Can You Eat Fruit If You Have Diabetes?"

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Eating whole fruits linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes."

Mayo Clinic Health System: "Add color to your diet," "Processed foods: What you should know."

The Mayo Clinic Diet: "Everyday ways to eat more fruits and vegetables."