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Which Fruits Are Safe To Eat for Diabetics?

Which Fruits Are Safe To Eat for Diabetics?

Fruits and vegetables are some of the healthiest food groups, and they are important sources of vitamins and other nutrients. People with diabetes can, and should, eat fruits. However, fruits can be very sweet, so diabetics must be careful not to raise blood sugar levels too much. Diabetics are advised to consume at least 5 servings of fruit or vegetables daily.

The American Diabetes Association recommends fruits as a good dessert choice. Fruits naturally contain a lot of sugar, and they usually contain more carbohydrates than starch-free vegetables. But some fruits are sweeter than others. Which ones are safe for diabetics?

Should Diabetics Be Worried About Fruits?

The sugar content of fruits may seem to mean that diabetics should avoid them. However, sugars found in fruits do not count as free sugars. Free sugar is the added sugar found in softdrinks, chocolates, cakes, cookies, fruit juices and honey.

Also, sugar is not the only thing that diabetics need to watch out for. It is actually the amount of carbohydrates you eat that has the greatest effect on your blood sugar levels.

Fruits such as medium-sized apples usually contain 15-20g of carbohydrates, chocolate muffins contain 55g of carbohydrates, and regular 500ml softdrinks contain 5g of carbohydrates. If you want to limit your carbohydrate intake to control your blood sugar, it’s a good idea to reduce your intake of chocolate, sweet drinks, cakes, and other snacks.

For those on a low-carb diet, it is important to identify unhealthy sources of carbs and generally reduce your intake of these food items. In other words, the sugar inside whole fruits is the least of your worries.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that eating recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables can reduce your susceptibility to chronic diseases and cancer.

Like vegetables, different fruits have different characteristics. For example, grapefruit contains healthy amounts of vitamin A and potassium, while berries are an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese.

Fruits help us by providing our bodies with fiber, minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin C. Vitamin C is important in preventing damage to our cells. Dietary fiber, on the other hand, aids digestion and is associated with lower cholesterol levels. It even plays a role in satiety (the feeling of being full), and prevents you from eating too much.

The following is a list of common fruits that diabetics can enjoy:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Nectarine
  • Orange
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerines
  • Watermelon

You can also eat dried fruit such as:

  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Prunes
  • Raisins

Diabetics and Fruit Juices

Ideally, diabetics should eat fresh fruit. However, they still need to be careful when drinking fruit juices and smoothies. This is ideally something that should be avoided, or at least reduced.

Fruit juices and smoothies have most of their fibrous materials removed, or they have already been broken down. This makes it very easy for a diabetic person to drink large quantities in a short amount of time, consuming extra calories and carbs. This simply means that fruit juices and smoothies are less beneficial to the body compared to the whole fruit, since the fiber is less intact.

The key to a good diabetic diet (and a good weight loss diet), is to eat high-fiber foods. And what distinguishes healthy carbohydrates from other carbohydrates is the presence of dietary fiber. Avocados, raspberries and pears are just some fruits that are high in fiber.

A high-fiber diet containing at least 25-35g of fiber per day is essential for health and is important for diabetics, as fiber slows the absorption of all sugars in your bloodstream. This includes naturally-formed sugars found in fruits and starches, and any refined sugar that may be part of the foods we consume.

Learn more about Diabetes here.

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Fruit, https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/recipes-nutrition/eating-well/fruit, Accessed September 28, 2021

Fruit and Diabetes, https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/eating-with-diabetes/food-groups/fruit-and-diabetes, Accessed September 28, 2021

Diabetes diet: Should I avoid sweet fruits? https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-answers/diabetes/faq-20057835, Accessed September 28, 2021

Diabetic Diet: The Best Way to Eat for Type 2 Diabetes, https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/diabetes/diabetes-diet-best-way-eat-type-2-diabetes, Accessed September 28, 2021

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Written by Fred Layno Updated Apr 21
Medically reviewed by Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD