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Can Diabetics Eat Fruit?

I’ve heard this question more than a few times since becoming a diabetic myself. The similar – and connected – question is also often posed. Should diabetics eat fruit?

From the research I have done, and from my own experience, the short answer is YES.

That having been said, everybody is different. A lot depends on the fruit, when you eat it and the extent of your diabetes.

The close association between sugar intake and diabetes has led to a few misconceptions about diabetics and their diet restrictions –particularly in relation to fruit. Most diabetics can eat the pretty well same foods as those without the disease, but the question becomes how much and how often.

Diabetics can indeed eat fruit, and in fact are strongly encouraged to choose fruit over more processed foods high in sugars and other carbohydrates. Fruit contains natural fibre, vitamins, enzymes and other essential nutrients that diabetics need to maintain a normal lifestyle.

The Good

Diabetics are encouraged to eat fruit which has a high fibre content and therefore low glycemic index (GI) and therefore do not cause a spike blood sugar levels to the same extent as high GI foods. This is because fibre slows down the absorption of sugar into the blood stream.

Fibre rich fruits tend to be the ones with edible skins and seeds as it is these parts of the fruit that are highest in fibre. Fruits high in fibre include apples(2.5%), pears (2.1%), apricots (2.1%), blueberries (2.7%), kiwifruit (2.1%), pomegranates (3.4%), and avocados (6.7%). Mind you, I wouldn’t want to eat the seed of either an apricot or an avocado!

There is some confusion about avocados because a large one can contain nearly twice as many calories as a chocolate bar. BUT it is high in monounsaturated fat and other beneficial nutrients which help prevent cardiovascular disease, which a greater problem for diabetics. So, keep the avocado and throw out the chocolate bar.

Fruits high in fructose, and those with high fructose to glucose ratios are also beneficial to diabetics because fructose does not require insulin to metabolise and therefore can be enjoyed even by insulin resistant diabetics. High fructose fruits include apples, pears, guavas, and mangoes, – all of which have fructose to glucose ratios higher than 2.

The Bad

Fruits with high amounts of glucose should only be consumed in small amounts as they can cause a spike in blood glucose levels. However most can still be enjoyed as part of a healthy diabetic meal regime. These fruits include bananas, dates, grapes, watermelon, and oranges.

Because fruit juices tend to be stripped of the pulpy fibrous parts of the fruit and therefore tend to be very low in fibre and thus, very high in sugar. Many  juice manufacturers also add sugar to their fruit juices to the extent that some fruit juices have higher sugar levels than cola.

Dried fruits tend to have a significant effect on blood sugar levels because of their high sugar content. And likewise, canned fruit in syrup also tends to be high in sugar and therefore should be eaten in sparingly or, at least, drained of the syrup before consuming. Many fruits are also available canned in their own juice rather than in syrup. These should, when available, be used in preference to fruits canned in syrup.

For ideas on how to use fruit and other food in a diabetic diet plan check out “Delicious Diabetic Recipes” where you will find over 500 suggestions.

Source by Peter Towler

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