Is fruit unhealthy for people with diabetes? This article will look at what you need to know about fruit and diabetes.
Fruit and Diabetes
Eating enough fiber plays an important role in managing diabetes. A diet high in soluble fiber can slow the absorption of sugar and control blood sugar levels. Many fruits are high in fiber, especially if the skin or pulp is eaten.
Many fruits are filling because they contain fiber and a lot of water.
Fruits are high in fiber and nutrients, so they can still be a good choice in meal planning. But fruits that have been processed such as applesauce and fruit juices have had their fiber removed.
The good news is that fruit is healthy to eat for people with diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
People with diabetes should eat a balanced diet that provides enough energy and helps to maintain a healthy weight. Some fruits are high in sugar, such as mangoes, but can be part of a healthy diet as long as not too many are eaten.
How Much Fruit is Safe to Eat if I Have Diabetes?
Most guidelines recommend that adults and children eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The United States guidelines recommend that people fill half of their plate at each meal with fruits and vegetables. The remaining half of the meal would be protein and grains.
One serving is a medium-sized fruit, or a serving the size of a baseball. Smaller fruits like berries have a half-cup as the serving size.
A half-cup is also the serving size for fruit that has been processed, such as applesauce. Fruit juice is also a half-cup serving size, which is half of a regular, 8-ounce glass. Dried fruits like raisins and cherries are 2 tablespoons per serving size.
Like vegetables, it’s great for people to eat a variety of fruits to get their needed nutrients, as well as to enjoy their varied flavors.
Fruits to eat or avoid
It’s important to consider the preparation of fruit. Fresh or frozen fruits are better than those that are processed that come out of a can or jar. Common examples of these fruits are applesauce and canned fruit. Dried fruit and fruit juices are also considered to be processed fruits.
People with diabetes should eat these processed foods very sparingly. Processed fruits are more rapidly absorbed in the body and increase blood sugar. Also, many fruit preparations have lost some of their nutrients, including vitamins and fiber.
The NIDDK recommends that people with diabetes should avoid drinking fruit juices or canned fruits with added sugar, which are more quickly absorbed. This leads to a rise in blood sugar.
Fruit blends like smoothies also have a high sugar content, which can cause blood sugar levels to rise as well.
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What is the glycemic index?
One way to choose fruits and other high-carbohydrate foods is to check the glycemic index (GI). The GI is a ranking of foods on a scale from 1 to 100, with their score indicating how quickly they raise blood sugar levels.
High GI foods are absorbed faster than medium or low GI foods. Low GI foods are best for helping control blood sugar levels.
It may be a surprise to learn that most fruits have a low glycemic index. Starchy vegetables like potatoes and grains are more rapidly digested and have a higher GI index.
Below is a list of fruits divided by GI index, as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Low GI fruits (GI less than 55)
- Kiwi fruit
(Editor’s Note: Bananas are a tricky one! Experts disagree about whether, at a GI of 51, bananas should really be classified as a low GI fruit. Some argue that the sugar content depends on the stage of ripeness, while others deny this. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that the way your body responds can be different from others, so in every case, pay attention to your own unique needs more than a number on a scale).
Medium-GI fruits (GI of 56 to 69)
Eat these fruits sparingly– they will have a stronger impact on your blood sugar levels than others.
- Honeydew melon
High-GI fruits (GI Index of 70 or greater)
If you’re going to enjoy fruit from this category, keep your portions small and think of them as a special treat, not an everyday snack.
People should aim to have at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. To do this, people should aim to have fruit or vegetables at every meal. Here are a few ideas for help with menu planning:
Citrus fruits are versatile and easy to add to meals. Lemons and limes can be added to seafood, sauces, and to a glass of iced tea or water on a hot summer day.
People can make their own fruit water by adding citrus slices to a pitcher of water. Let the water steep overnight to create a refreshing drink.
Berries are very easy to include with other foods such as oatmeal and meat.
Berries are tasty raw but easily cooked down into a compote to spoon on top of oatmeal or meat.
Put whole fresh or frozen berries into a saucepan with a tablespoon or two of water. Cook on medium or low heat until the berries have broken down into a thick sauce. One serving is half a cup.
A recipe by the ADA suggests marinating apples in a bit of honey and spices and then cooking them on a grill. To finish, roll the apples in crushed walnuts or pecans.
Avocados are high in fat, but they contain the good kind of fat – monounsaturated fat. Research suggests that avocados may be heart healthy by keeping good cholesterol levels high.
Avocados are eaten raw and can be served sliced, in salsas, or as guacamole. Avocados are easy to prepare by slicing them in half around the pit. Discard the pit and mash the avocado.
Add herbs and vegetables to taste. Lime or lemon can also be added to avocado for a citrus boost.
Shared with permission from our friends at Medical News Today.
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