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Eating Fruit as a Diabetic

Are fruits unhealthy for people with diabetes?

There is a common assumption among many that fruit is not an okay choice for people with diabetes. People have formed the idea that diabetics should steer clear of fruits because these foods contain high sugar levels like fructose.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says eating fruit when you have diabetes is healthy. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reports that as long as you are not allergic to fruit, you can eat whatever fruit you want.

Over 420 million people worldwide have diabetes.  More than 29 million people in the US have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Plus, there are new studies in China promoting the health benefits of consuming fruit, even if you are diabetic. Researchers, led by Huaidong Du of the University of Oxford in the UK, studied 500,000 people in China, patients with diabetes and without, and found that eating fruit did not negatively affect diabetics when the portions were done in moderation. The participants of the China Kadoorie BioBank study were between the ages of 30 and 79. The study lasted for seven years. Medical News Today reports, “The team found that people who did not have diabetes at the beginning of the study and consumed fresh fruit in high amounts had a significantly lower risk of diabetes.” People that may have diabetes running in their family can rest assured that eating fruits every day can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by 12%.

Health Benefits of Fruit for Diabetics

The health benefits of eating fruit daily are endless. Eating fruit every day lower relative risk of dying early, reduce heart trouble, stroke, kidney diseases, and eye diseases. The health benefits attributed to eating fruit are possible because fruit is full of fiber and antioxidants.  Research from the China Kadoorie BioBank shows that people with diabetes who ate fruit over three times per week had a 17% lower relative risk of dying early as well as a 28% lower risk of developing cardiovascular problems.

The suggestion for diabetics is for them to eat about 100 grams of fruit between meals as a filler.  Eating frequent meals and snacks is critical for people who have diabetes. Sticking to 100 grams of fresh fruit between meals is ideal for keeping calorie intake under control. The best fruits for diabetics to consume are pomegranates, grapes, apples, blueberries, strawberries, guava, watermelon, cherries, papaya, and oranges, according to Shilpa Arora, a renowned health practitioner, and nutritionist.

Staying healthy by eating fruit is essential. But, there is a difference between eating whole fruits and drinking fruit juices. While eating whole fruits can reduce the risk of getting diabetes, the opposite can be said of drinking fruit juices. That’s because one fruit usually has about 4 ounces of fruit juice, while a fruit drink contains much more.  Fruit juices are processed fruits, and they absorb quicker, therefore, resulting in high sugar levels. So, avoid drinking too much fruit juice because that amount of sugar can increase the risk of getting diabetes. Just remember it is best to choose fresh fruit, frozen or canned without added sugars.

Fiber in Fruit

The skin of the fruit is full of fiber. Fiber is not digestible. People need to get 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day. Eating the whole fruit will maximize fiber intake, and this is important for having the best blood sugar control possible. Not to mention, fruit is a great snack option because it contains a lot of fiber and water, which makes you feel fuller. Besides, fruit is tasty so it can satisfy a sweet tooth. Fruit is a much healthier alternative compared to candy.

Just like vegetables, fruits contain so many important essential ingredients that keep us healthy, just like vegetables. They are full of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, fiber, and water. Bananas have potassium and tryptophan, which is an amino acid.  Citrus fruits like oranges contain lots of vitamin A and C (antioxidants). Berries are great for antioxidants too. Cherries help fight inflammation. Like bananas, peaches are a source of potassium. Apricots contain fiber.  Apples have lots of vitamins. Pears have vitamin K and fiber.

Pomegranates contain ellagic, gallic, oleanolic, ounicalagin, uallic, and ursolic acids. Nutrition Research published study highlighting how pomegranate juice can reduce blood glucose levels for people with Type 2 diabetes.

There is also a link between Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Eating fruit can help you manage your weight and reduce your risk of diabetes.

Glycemic Index in Fruit

Checking how each fruit ranks on the glycemic index (GI) can help you decide which fruits to choose.  Each carbohydrate rich food has a GI between 1 and 100. The glycemic index measures the speed at which the body absorbs the glucose in the fruit. Therefore, that number associated with the food indicates how quickly they will raise a person’s blood sugar levels. Fruits with a high GI cause the body to absorb the sugars faster than those with lower numbers, raising blood sugars quickly. The best way to control sugar levels is to choose the fruits that have a low glycemic index. The US Department of Agriculture reports that apples, avocados, bananas, berries, cherries, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, and strawberries. These fruits all have low GIs, measuring less than 55. Low GI fruits also contain fructose and fiber. Watermelon has a high GI.

Understanding how much and what kind of carbohydrate foods you are eating can help you manage your diabetes. Blood glucose levels are affected by the balance between the amount of insulin in your body and the carbohydrates you eat.

Watching your portion sizes is also ideal for keeping the number of carbohydrates you consume in line.  The ADA reports, “A small piece of whole fruit or about ½ cup of frozen or canned fruit has about 15 grams of carbohydrates. Servings for most fresh berries and melons are from ¾ – 1 cup. Fruit juice can range from 1/3 -1/2 cup for 15 grams of carbohydrate.”  For dried fruit like raisins, 2 tablespoons equal about 15 grams of carbohydrates.

Learn more about the benefits of eating fruit and how consuming fruit can reduce your risk of getting diabetes and other related health issues by talking to one of our providers. Visit our contact form today. We’ve also created this helpful graphic to summarize our blog above. Feel free to download, or share!

Tips on consuming fruit for diabetics

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