1 November 2020
By Sylvie Tremblay

Which fruits are OK for a diabetic to eat?


Being aware of the amount and type of carbohydrates (or carbs) in your diet is important, especially if you have diabetes. Eating too much of carbs can cause blood sugar to spike too high which can greatly affect your blood sugar control. For this reason, avoiding or minimising foods that cause big blood sugar spikes is essential.

So, is it OK for a diabetic to eat fruits? The answer is yes.  Fruit and vegetables should be part of your diabetes diet to provide the nutrition you need while satisfying your sweet tooth.

What are the best fruit choices?

The best choice when you have diabetes is fresh fruit. You will get more nutrients and healthy fibre from:

1. Cherries and berries
Cherries and berries are actually very low on the Glycemic Index (GI). These superfruits are rich in antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, which studies show may help with blood sugar control. It’s best to have them fresh but if you opt for canned and dried versions, be sure to check the labels for added sugar.

2. Oranges, strawberries, mangoes, and cantaloupe
These juicy fruits are refreshing source of vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant. As some data suggests people with diabetes may have increased cellular turnover of vitamin C, it is important to include good sources in your diet to prevent possible deficiency. These little powerhouses come packed with dietary fibre that helps keep you feeling full and stabilises your blood sugar.

3. Bananas
In addition to sugar and starch, bananas contain some fiber. This means that the sugar in bananas are slowly digested and absorbed, which could prevent blood sugar spikes. Be sure to eat your bananas as soon as they are ripe (or even while they are still a little green). The longer they sit and the browner they get, the sweeter they become.

How to spot added sugar in your fruits?

Start by skipping the juice aisle! Juice lacks the fibre that keeps you feeling full between meals. The high carb content of fruit juice makes it a less-than-ideal choice. In addition, watch out for dried fruits as some varieties, particularly cranberries, are sweetened with sugar. The same goes for canned fruits, so long as you choose varieties packed in water or juice over those canned in syrup.
How much fruit should I eat?

Practising portion control allows you to enjoy all the fruits you love and still manage your blood sugar. Standard portion sizes differ a little from fruit to fruit, so try to become familiar with the appropriate servings that are more carb-and calorie-dense. To figure out what is best for you, you may want to test your blood sugar before and after eating the fruits.
Pairing fruit with healthy protein sources and/or healthy fats lowers the overall Glycemic Load (GL). Start by using dried fruit as an accent (visual/colour emphasis) instead of the main ingredient such as adding unsweetened dried apple to a spinach salad or stir dried apricots into your Greek yogurt. Alternatively, try savouring raisins as a topping for oatmeal rather than as a solo snack or serve banana for dessert after a balanced dinner, to better manage your blood sugar while still enjoying the foods you love.

The takeaway

In summary, you can maintain a balanced diet with lower-GI/GL fruits that are a better fit for you and should probably be part of your everyday intake. Higher-GI fruits do not need to be off-limits but you should combine them with low-GI foods to moderate their impact on your blood sugar.
There is nothing more important than looking after your health and well-being to ensure living a healthier and brighter life. Talk to our advisor today to find out how you can plan for a protection plan that meets your needs.

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