Nutrition Articles

Eating with Diabetes: What about Fruit?

The Best Fruit Choices for People with Diabetes

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  1. Choose fresh, whole fruits most of the time. While any type of fruit can be worked into a diabetes meal plan, it is generally recommended that fresh, whole fruit (including frozen) be chosen most of the time because it offers other nutritional benefits such as fiber, which may help stabilize blood sugar levels.
     
  2. Be cautious when choosing dried fruits and fruit juices. Juice and dried fruits can be worked into a diabetes meal plan, but the amount you'll get for the carbohydrates they contain is very small. Both options are very concentrated sources of sugar and carbohydrates, which reduces the serving size you can eat. Many are higher on the glycemix index, too (see point 4 below).
     
  3. Watch out for added sweeteners. Many seemingly healthy fruit-based foods are full of added sugars (think jams and jellies, fruit bars or fruit pies, fruit-flavored drinks). Also be sure to read labels. Canned, frozen, dried and other packaged fruits often come with added sugars, which not only affect your blood sugar levels but also reduce the serving size you are able to eat. If you must choose fruit canned in syrup (which is often cheaper than fruit canned in fruit juice), you can rinse the fruit under cold water to help reduce the added sugar you'll consume. Also avoid juice "drinks" (often containing sweeteners) in favor of 100% fruit juice to reduce added sugar while maximizing vitamin and mineral intake.
     
  4. Note how different fruits affect your blood sugar levels. While the glycemic index isn't a perfect scale for measuring how a food affects your blood sugar level, choosing fruits with lower glycemic indexes may provide an additional blood glucose control benefit. There can be a difference in how a food affects an individual's blood sugar level. If you notice certain fruits elevate your blood sugar more than others, you may want to reduce the portion size of that particular fruit or favor items that tend to have a lesser impact on your blood sugar levels. If you find that this type of "fine tweaking" would be beneficial to your blood sugar control, talk to your Certified Diabetes Educator and use the glycemic index information listed in the chart below when choosing fruits.
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About The Author

Amy L. Poetker Amy L. Poetker
Amy Poetker is a licensed and registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with a master's degree in dietetics. Amy, who has spent most of her career working in diabetes education, is dedicated to the treatment of that disease and the prevention of related complications. See all of Amy's articles.

Member Comments

  • I, too, would have liked to have it by numbers, so copied it and put it in a table I could manipulate. Different people work different ways. Thank goodness for software!

    ...
    This was a good article. However, what it does not address is the rush of sweetness that comes with some fruit eating. Not just the actual glycemic index and 'carb' reaction. But also the rush of the body FEELIng the sweet. Some of us are quite sensitive to that. It triggers much overeating and even binges which of course lead to sugar problems.

    Gotta know ones own body and soul when it comes to food.

    - 10/13/2012 7:31:11 PM
  • AZURE-SKY
    I like the alphabetic sorting. If you wish to look up a certain fruit, it's much easier to find it when the list is alphabetic, rather than sorted by glycemic index. - 7/10/2012 1:17:40 PM
  • That chart would have been much more useful sorted from lowest to highest GI. (Instead of alphabetically) - 7/10/2012 8:53:40 AM

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