Fruit is controversial for diabetics due to its sugar content. However, fruits are packed with fiber and antioxidants that help prevent blood sugar spikes. Plus, there’s some evidence that the phytonutrients in fruit help tame the rise in blood sugar you get after a meal. The key is to choose lower-sugar fruits that are also high in fiber and eat them in moderation. Let’s look at some of the best and worst fruits if you have type 2 diabetes.
The Best Fruits for Blood Sugar Control
If you have type 2 diabetes, the best fruits are berries. Why? Due to their low glycemic index and high fiber content, berries have a slower absorption rate, which keeps blood glucose levels stable. This also means you won’t feel tired a few hours after eating them since they provide sustained energy. Plus, berries are packed with antioxidants and dietary fiber, which helps slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream.
Furthermore, due to their high water content, berries have a low-calorie density and are an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals. In conclusion, the low glycemic index, antioxidants, dietary fiber, and low-calorie density make berries an ideal fruit choice if you’re looking to maintain balanced blood glucose levels.
Which Berries Should You Choose?
Strawberries are among the lowest-sugar berries, and they’re one of the best sources of vitamin C in the fruit family. They’re delicious too! Dark berries, like blueberries and blackberries, contain antioxidants called anthocyanins that help reduce inflammation and may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. But no matter what berries you choose; these luscious orbs are naturally nutrient-dense and low in sugar.
You can enjoy berries fresh, frozen, pureed, or cooked. Adding fresh or frozen berries to smoothies, salads, or oatmeal is a tasty way to enjoy their health benefits. Mix berries into unflavored Greek yogurt for a creamy and delicious snack. You can also bake with berries. Try adding them to muffins, pancakes, or oatmeal bars. You can also add the berries of your choice to savory dishes, like sauces and salads, for more nutrients and a touch of sweetness.
For an indulgent treat, bake fresh berries with a sprinkle of cinnamon for a healthy dessert. With so many blood sugar-friendly ways to enjoy berries, you don’t have to miss out on this delicious snack.
Other fruits that are low in sugar include lemons, limes, grapefruit, and oranges. Eat these fruits whole to ensure you get blood-sugar-lowering fiber. Eating these fruits with their skins intact can also provide additional benefits such as minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins.
The Worst Fruits for Blood Sugar Control
Certain fruits can make it more difficult to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. High-sugar fruits, such as dates, grapes, mangoes, and bananas, cause spikes in blood sugar levels, making them some of the worst fruits for blood sugar control and sustainable energy. Additionally, dried fruits such as raisins and figs are also high in sugar. When you munch on these foods, it’s harder to control your blood glucose level.
If you are trying to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, switch these alternatives for low-sugar berries. In summary, these fruits are naturally high in sugar and likely to cause blood glucose spikes:
- Dried fruits
Fruits to Eat in Moderation
Some fruits have a certain amount of sugar but still have enough fiber not to pose a problem if you consume them in moderation. For example, apples have moderate quantities of sugar, but their fiber content, including a fiber called pectin, makes them easier on blood glucose than higher-sugar fruits like bananas. Fruits with moderate sugar that you should enjoy only in moderation include:
- Honeydew melon
Avoid Fruit Juice
Since fruit juice typically lacks dietary fiber, it can cause a sudden rise in blood sugar levels. Furthermore, many types of fruit juice contain added sugars, which can further contribute to elevated blood sugar levels. This can be problematic for individuals with diabetes, as well as those who are at risk of developing diabetes. Whole fruits have a higher content of dietary fiber and other nutrients, so get your fruit from whole fruits, not their liquid.
Finally, processed fruit juice does not provide the same nutritional benefits as eating whole fruits, such as vitamins and minerals, due to the extra heat manufacturers expose the fruit to. Commercial production of juice and the pasteurization process also destroys a significant amount of antioxidants. Some fruit juice contains added sugar too. For these reasons, it is important to limit the consumption of fruit juice if you have diabetes.
In conclusion, if you have type 2 diabetes, be mindful of your sugar and carbohydrate intake. Choosing the right fruits and eating them in moderation can help regulate your blood sugar level. Low-sugar fruits, such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and oranges, are the best choices for people with diabetes. And you might not know, but raspberries have the highest fiber content of the common berries.
It’s best to avoid high-sugar fruits, such as bananas, mangoes, grapes, and dried fruit, and choose lower-sugar options. Stay away from fruit juice entirely, as it’s the most likely to cause blood glucose spikes. Eating a diet rich in the right fruits and avoiding eating large quantities of sugar fruit and fruit juice helps with blood sugar control and may lower the risk of weight gain too.
- Muraki I, Imamura F, Manson JE, Hu FB, Willett WC, van Dam RM, Sun Q. Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ. 2013 Aug 28;347:f5001. doi: 10.1136/bmj.f5001. Erratum in: BMJ. 2013;347:f6935. PMID: 23990623; PMCID: PMC3978819.
- “Does Pasteurization Affect the Nutrients in Fruit?”. 2023. Woman.Thenest.Com. https://woman.thenest.com/pasteurization-affect-nutrients-fruit-9199.html.
- “Effect of Whole Fruit on Glycemic Control in Adults with Type 2 Diabetes.” uab.edu/shp/nutrition/research/join-a-study/effect-of-whole-fruit-on-glycemic-control-in-adults-with-type-2-diabetes.
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