When someone is first diagnosed with diabetes, they immediately remove everything with sugar in it. From bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes, all the way down to fruit. Patients then have the lingering fear that their blood sugars will spike if they choose to enjoy their favorite fruit. The run for a perfect A1C becomes their every goal. If you learn what kind of fruits to focus on and how to eat them, blood sugar should not be a problem. Those who enjoy fruit in their whole form have less of a chance of developing type 2 diabetes according to a recent study conducted by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Fruits offer a multifaceted array of benefits for individuals with diabetes. Rich in dietary fiber, they play a crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels by slowing down sugar absorption and promoting a sense of fullness, aiding in weight management. The abundance of antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, provides protection against oxidative stress, a concern for those with diabetes.
Additionally, fruits contribute essential vitamins and minerals necessary for overall health. According to the American Diabetes Association, the presence of natural sugars in fruits, coupled with fiber, helps mitigate blood sugar spikes. While being mindful of portion sizes and the glycemic index, incorporating a variety of fruits into the diet can be a wholesome and nutritious approach to supporting diabetes management. Consulting with healthcare professionals can offer personalized guidance based on individual health needs and preferences.
TOPICS WE COVER
- Understanding the Role of Glycemic Index on Blood Sugar
- What 10 Fruits Should I Choose When I Have Diabetes?
- How Can I Pair High Glycemic Fruits Without Affecting Blood Sugar for My Diabetes?
Understanding the Role of Glycemic Index on Blood Sugar
The glycemic index (GI) is a scale that measures how quickly and how much a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose levels. It ranks foods based on their impact on blood sugar compared to a reference food, usually pure glucose or white bread.
- Low: 55 or less
- Medium: 56–69
- High: 70 or above
Foods with a high glycemic index are rapidly digested and absorbed, causing a quick spike in blood sugar levels. On the other hand, foods with a low glycemic index are digested more slowly, resulting in a slower and more gradual rise in blood sugar.
Understanding the glycemic index can be important for individuals, especially those with diabetes, as it helps in making informed choices about carbohydrate consumption. Foods with a lower glycemic index are often preferred for better blood sugar control, as they have a more moderate impact on blood glucose levels. However, it’s essential to consider other factors such as portion size and overall nutritional content when planning a balanced diet.
This does not mean staying away from fruits with a higher glycemic index! You will learn how to combine fruits with diabetes so that you may not have blood sugar spikes!
What are the Fruits with a Low Glycemic Index
Fruits with a low glycemic index (GI) are those that have a smaller impact on blood sugar levels. Here are some fruits with a low GI:
- Cherries: Cherries have a low GI and are also rich in antioxidants.
- Grapefruit: Grapefruit is known for its low glycemic load and high vitamin C content.
- Apples: Apples have a moderate to low GI and are a good source of fiber.
- Pears: Pears have a low GI and provide dietary fiber.
- Berries (e.g., strawberries, blueberries, raspberries): Berries are generally low in sugar and have a low GI.
- Plums: Plums have a low GI and are rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Peaches: Peaches have a relatively low GI and offer vitamins and antioxidants.
- Apricots: Apricots have a low to moderate GI and provide essential nutrients.
What are the Fruits with a High Glycemic Index
Fruits with a high glycemic index (GI) can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. Here are some fruits that tend to have a higher GI:
- Watermelon: Watermelon has a high GI due to its relatively high sugar content.
- Pineapple: Pineapple has a moderate to high GI, mainly because of its natural sugars.
- Ripe Bananas: As bananas ripen, their starches convert to sugars, resulting in a higher GI.
- Mangoes: Mangoes have a moderate to high GI, and their sweetness contributes to this.
- Dates: Dates are concentrated sources of natural sugars and have a high GI.
- Lychee: Lychee is a tropical fruit with a high GI.
- Papaya: Papaya has a moderate to high GI, especially when ripe.
- Canned Fruit in Syrup: Fruits canned in syrup, regardless of the type, can have a higher GI due to added sugars.
What 10 Fruits Should I Choose When I Have Diabetes?
Berries (e.g., strawberries, blueberries, raspberries): The Blissful Bunch
Background: Berries have a long history of being enjoyed for their sweet and tart flavors. They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber.
Enjoyment: Berries can be enjoyed fresh, added to yogurt or oatmeal, blended into smoothies, or used as toppings for desserts. They are versatile and can also be frozen for longer shelf life.
Carbs per serving: About 15 grams per cup (varies slightly among berries).
GI: Generally low
Cherries Cheerful Delight
Background: Cherries have been cultivated for centuries and come in sweet and tart varieties. They are known for their vibrant color and unique taste.
Enjoyment: Cherries can be eaten fresh as a snack, added to salads, or used in desserts like pies and cobblers. They can also be juiced or incorporated into savory dishes.
Carbs per serving: Around 24 grams per cup.
Background: Apples are one of the oldest cultivated fruits and have a rich cultural significance. There are numerous apple varieties with varying flavors and textures.
Enjoyment: Apples can be eaten fresh, sliced and paired with nut butter, baked into pies, or incorporated into salads. They are also used to make applesauce and cider.
Carbs per serving: Approximately 25 grams for a small-sized apple.
Background: Pears have a history dating back to ancient times and are prized for their sweet and juicy flesh.
Enjoyment: Pears can be enjoyed fresh, sliced into salads, poached, or baked into desserts. They pair well with cheeses and can be incorporated into both sweet and savory dishes.
Carbs per serving: About 27 grams for one pear.
GI: Low to moderate
Background: Plums have a diverse history and come in various colors and flavors. They are often associated with summer and are known for their sweet taste.
Enjoyment: Plums can be eaten fresh, dried into prunes, or used in jams and preserves. They add sweetness to both desserts and savory dishes.
Carbs per serving: Around 8 grams per plum.
GI: Low to moderate
Peach-y Keen Treats
Background: Peaches have a long history, with origins traced back to China. They are celebrated for their juicy, fragrant flesh.
Enjoyment: Peaches can be enjoyed fresh, sliced into salads, grilled, or used in cobblers and smoothies. They are a popular ingredient in both sweet and savory recipes.
Carbs per serving: Approximately 15 grams for a medium-sized peach.
Background: Grapefruit is a citrus fruit with a unique taste. It originated as a natural crossbreed between a pomelo and an orange.
Enjoyment: Grapefruit can be eaten fresh, added to fruit salads, juiced, or used in cocktails. Some people enjoy it with a sprinkle of sugar or honey to balance its tartness.
Carbs per serving: About 16 grams per half (medium-sized).
GI: Low to moderate
Background: Avocado is native to Central and South America. It’s technically a berry and is prized for its creamy texture and healthy fats.
Enjoyment: Avocado can be sliced onto toast, mashed into guacamole, added to salads, or used in smoothies. It’s also a popular ingredient in savory dishes and sandwiches.
Carbs per serving: Around 12 grams per cup (sliced).
GI: Very low (not typically assigned a GI value due to low carbohydrate content).
Kiwi Green Gems
Background: Kiwi, also known as the Chinese gooseberry, is native to China and later introduced to New Zealand.
Enjoyment: Kiwi can be enjoyed by scooping out the green flesh with a spoon, sliced into salads, blended into smoothies, or used as a garnish. It adds a refreshing and tangy flavor.
Carbs per serving: Approximately 10 grams for one
GI: Low to moderate
Apricots Adventures in a Bite
Background: Apricots have a history dating back to ancient times and are believed to have originated in Central Asia.
Enjoyment: Apricots can be eaten fresh, dried, or used in jams and sauces. They are delicious in both sweet and savory dishes, such as roasted with meats or baked into pastries.
Carbs per serving: About 4 grams per apricot.
GI: Low to moderate
How Can I Pair High Glycemic Fruits Without Affecting Blood Sugar for My Diabetes?
Now, you don’t have to stay away from the high-glycemic fruits! All fruit should be enjoyed as part of a diabetic diet and should not be avoided for fear of raising your blood sugar. There are a few things you can combine your fruit with so that you may have a steady blood sugar.
Combine Your Fruit with Protein
Pair high glycemic fruits with a source of lean protein. For example, have a small serving of melon with a portion of Greek yogurt or add berries to a smoothie with protein powder. You can also incorporate healthy fats, such as nut butters or seeds, with fruits. For instance, pair apple slices with almond butter or enjoy berries with a sprinkle of chia seeds for added crunch.
Include Fiber-Rich Foods
Combine high-glycemic fruits with fiber-rich foods to slow down the absorption of sugars. For example, mix mango with a small serving of oatmeal or add sliced pear to a salad with leafy greens. You can also sprinkle some chia or flax seeds on top!
Monitor Your Blood Sugar When You Have Fruit
Regularly monitor your blood sugar levels to understand how different fruit combinations affect you. This can help you make informed choices and tailor your diet to your individual needs.
Consume high glycemic fruits as part of a meal rather than on an empty stomach. Eating them alongside other foods can help distribute the impact on blood sugar. Be mindful of portion sizes. Opt for smaller servings of high-glycemic fruits and pair them with other foods to create a balanced and satisfying meal or snack.
- Choose Low-Glycemic Fruits: Opt for fruits with a low glycemic index (GI) such as berries, apples, citrus fruits, and kiwi to help manage blood sugar levels.
- Prioritize Fiber and Antioxidants: Select fruits high in fiber and antioxidants like berries, apples, and citrus fruits to support digestion, reduce inflammation, and protect against cell damage.
- Practice Portion Control: Monitor portion sizes and choose whole fruits over juices to control carbohydrate intake and prevent spikes in blood sugar levels. Consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.
If you’re looking to see how food uniquely affects your blood sugar click the link below to learn more!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services. This article and the links contained in it provide general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this article is not a substitute for medical care, and should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or registered dietitian.
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Christa is a media dietitian and nutrition consultant in the New York City area. She works with various brands and has been featured in dozens of outlets such as Women’s Health, EatingWell, and Peoples Magazine as a nutrition expert. Being a fact checker for EatingWell Magazine and a Medical Reviewer for Nourish, she brings her extensive experience within the field to provide compassionate, inclusive care using science for intimate and personalized messaging.
Christa brings warm laughter, joy, and medical expertise to any conversation allowing for honest science-based discussions with authenticity at their core.
In her private practice, she works with men and women suffering from emotional traumas that cause binge eating disorders exacerbating their type 2 diabetes, PCOS and insulin resistance.