Can a Diabetes Diet Include Fruit?

By GabbyPA Latest Reply 2012-06-13 09:48:29 -0500
Started 2012-05-31 18:22:41 -0500

Although fruit contains sugar, it's also loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. Learn how fruit can be part of a healthy type 2 diabetes diet.

By: Everyday Health

By Diana Rodriguez
Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH

Most people with type 2 diabetes know that they can't indulge in a daily chunk of chocolate cake for dessert or sip sugar-laden drinks. But is all sugar off limits in a type 2 diabetes diet, even the natural sugar found in fruits?

"In general, for most patients, all kinds of fruit are fine," says dietitian Nora Saul, MS, RD, a certified diabetes educator at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. Fruit is a healthy snack, packed with the fiber, vitamins, and nutrients essential for good health.

But that doesn't mean that people with type 2 diabetes can eat all the fruit they want — fruit will affect their blood sugar levels. "Every single fruit has carbohydrates," says Lorena Drago, a certified diabetes instructor and consumer adviser for the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Following a few simple guidelines will help you make the right choices.

Diabetes and Fruit: The Glycemic Index

If you have diabetes and fruit is on your preferred menu, you’ll need to pay attention to its glycemic index ranking.

The glycemic index is a numerical rating assigned to carbohydrate foods and indicates how quickly a food will affect blood sugar levels. Low-glycemic-index foods raise blood sugar levels at a slower rate than higher glycemic index foods, says Saul. So low-glycemic-index foods will help you keep your blood sugar levels more stable — the goal for everyone with diabetes.

Apples, oranges, and pears are some of the fruits with a low glycemic index and may be a good choice if you need to limit your carbohydrates on a particular day.

Diabetes and Fruit: Go for the Berries

"Different fruits provide different vitamins and minerals," says Saul. "You just have to watch the portions and not eat too much at once." If your favorite fruits have a very high glycemic index, eat them in smaller portions or include them in a meal that has an overall low glycemic index, she suggests.

A wide variety of fruits is the best choice for a type 2 diabetes diet, says Saul, but she suggests being sure to include fruits high in vitamin A and C and rich in fiber.

If you're looking for the most nutritional bang for your carbohydrate buck, opt for berries, says Drago. Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and other berries are nutrition powerhouses in terms of nutrients.

But just because they're healthy, remember not to overdo it on the carbohydrates, as carbs will affect blood sugar levels. It's important to stay within your daily carbohydrate budget, which is specific to every individual with diabetes.

Diabetes and Fruit: About Juice

Does the same type 2 diabetes diet advice apply to fruit juice? Whole fruit is definitely a better choice, according to Saul.

"Most juices don't have any protein, any fiber, or any fat,” Saul says. And because they’re liquid, they leave the stomach very quickly. With "nothing to slow down absorption, they tend to spike blood sugar levels very quickly," she points out.

Saul explains that fruit juice isn't totally off limits, but moderation is key for any type 2 diabetes diet. If you do choose juice, "it should be small quantities, 4 ounces or less," she says. You'll get the same vitamins that you’d get from eating the whole fruit, but you will miss out on the more complete nutrition provided by whole fruit.

You don't have to skip nature's sweet treats when you have diabetes. You can, and should, enjoy fresh fruit as part of a healthy type 2 diabetes diet. Just remember that moderation rules when you’re factoring in these carbs.

21 replies

Type1Lou 2012-06-08 16:56:57 -0500 Report

My lunch most days is an apple (Gala variety right now), cored, sliced and slathered with all natural Peanut Butter. Depending of the size of the apple, lunch runs between 37 and 45 grams of carb. It's yummy, nutritious and the fiber in the apple makes it filling!

dietcherry 2012-06-07 18:46:57 -0500 Report

A helpful hint:

Berries often spoil after just a few days, but you can extend their shelf life by washing them in a solution of 1 part vinegar and 10 parts water before storing. Vinegar kills the mold spores and bacteria that cause the fruit to go bad. This method will keep them fresh for 2 weeks !!

pixsidust 2012-06-01 07:37:06 -0500 Report

How about watermelon! 12 carbs per cup!

Calorie, Carbohydrate and Fiber Counts for Watermelon
1 cup diced watermelon:
Calories - 46, Fiber - 0.6 grams, Carbohydrates - 11.5 grams

1 cup balls:
Calories - 46, Fiber - 0.6 grams, Carbohydrates - 11.5 grams

1 wedge (1/16th melon):
Calories - 86, Fiber - 1.1 grams, Carbohydrates - 21.6 grams

GabbyPA 2012-06-01 08:55:37 -0500 Report

Watermelon is my fruit of choice in the summer. I know it can spike a lot of people, but it doesn't seem to with me. Maybe because I usually have some protein as well when I eat it.

tabby9146 2012-06-06 11:56:50 -0500 Report

that is what I do have some protein. I love watermelon too and live very close to a town that is known for their tasty watermelons, they even have a watermelon festival every year in July!

jayabee52 2012-05-31 21:01:28 -0500 Report

Since it is summer I LOVE frozen berries, especially strawberries and blueberries. And I don't have to worry much about the carbs since I avoid anything made from or with grains. (exception Quinoa).

Caroltoo 2012-06-01 00:19:02 -0500 Report

Quinoa is not really an exception, James, because despite it's appearnace, it is actually a seed. Regardless, you are correct it is a source of carbohydrates.

Controlled 2012-05-31 20:42:37 -0500 Report

I wish I could. It's the only thing I miss from days of yore when I thought I could eat anything I wanted. I've tried lower carb fruits but end up with the same results. Unfortunately, I do "…have to skip nature's sweet treats…" despite what the article suggests.

Caroltoo 2012-05-31 18:32:35 -0500 Report

Blackberries are my favorites: lots of fiber and antioxidants, lower bg rise (for me, at least). Strawberries are 2nd choice; apples are third. I eat others, but only a little at a time.

GabbyPA 2012-05-31 18:36:04 -0500 Report

Yeah, I am a berry gal. I love them all and blueberries seem to be the most friendly. Summer, I just have to have watermelon though. We had a cantaloupe from the garden yesterday.

Caroltoo 2012-05-31 19:11:20 -0500 Report

Cantaloupe is another favorite when it is tasty. So many I've gotten in the last several years have been so flat that I've almost given up trying. Bet your home grown ones have some flavor.

tabby9146 2012-06-06 11:58:39 -0500 Report

my faves are watermelon, cantaloupe, followed by pears, blueberries and strawberries, like to put the berries into other things. My father used to have a cantaloupe and watermelon garden for a few years before he passed away, it was great! lucky to have so many locally grown veggies and fruits around here where I live.

Caroltoo 2012-06-06 20:08:51 -0500 Report

Yes, I also eat cantaloupe, pears, apricots, pineapple, and cherries frequently. Occasionally I eat papaya and once in a very great while, a mango. I break out if I get mango juice on my skin, so this is done infrequently and very carefully.

GabbyPA 2012-06-13 09:48:29 -0500 Report

I had a friend find out the hard way he was allergic to the mango skins. He just bit into one and ate it. His lips ballooned up like he had lost a fight. He would have laughed, but it hurt too much. LOL

GabbyPA 2012-05-31 18:23:54 -0500 Report

I found this just after I had started to munch on some great summer watermelon. A nice change from my usual apples. Enjoy the fruits of summer, just be aware of those tasty little carbs.