Should and Can Diabetics Eat Fruit

Should and Can Diabetics Eat Fruit?

A diagnosis of diabetes can feel like a death sentence for your sweet tooth. But don't despair! While you'll need to be more mindful of your sugar intake, you may be wondering if you can still enjoy fruit or if you should avoid it altogether. The answer is that you absolutely can eat fruit if you have diabetes! Incorporating fruit into your diet has many benefits for people with a diabetes diagnosis.

Fruit is a good source of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which are important for maintaining good health, boosting immunity, and helping the body function. The fibre in fruit is primarily pectin, which forms a gel in the gut (1). This helps with slowing down the digestion of the fruit and also slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This keeps blood sugar levels on an even keel, so fruit is helpful for keeping blood sugar in check. Fibre is also great for keeping cholesterol low, feeding the healthy bacteria in the gut and keeping the gut moving to prevent constipation (2).

The vitamins and antioxidants in the fruit help to protect the body against damage from free radicals. This reduces oxidative stress, which leads to inflammation in the body and can, in turn, lead to life-limiting diseases such as cancer and heart disease (3). Fruit, especially red, blue, and purple fruits such as berries, contain polyphenols. These are particularly beneficial for protecting our health (4).

We have all heard that we need to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. We also need to “eat the rainbow”. Fruit gives us the opportunity to do so easily and tastes great into the bargain. Many people dislike the bitter taste of vegetables, so eating fruit to ensure you get all the health benefits is an easy win.

Fruit is also relatively low in calories, especially compared to sweet snacks and puddings. Diabetics should not eat sweets/candy as they are extremely high in sugar. In fact, they are pure sugar in most cases. Snacking on berries such as blueberries, cherries, raspberries, grapes, strawberries, and blackberries is a much healthier option. It is much healthier than popping candy into your mouth.

Including fruit in your diet can also help you achieve your goals for weight loss or maintenance. If you're looking to lose weight, eating fruit can help you keep those hunger pangs away for longer and to avoid unhealthy snacks. And if you're trying to stay at the same weight, eating lots of delicious fruit can help you reach your daily calorie goals.

What are the worst and best fruits for diabetics?

When it comes to diabetes, not all fruits are created equal. Some fruits are higher in sugar than others, so it's important to be mindful of that when you're choosing what fruit to eat. In general, it is much better to choose whole, fresh fruit or frozen fruit. Fruit that has been dried or made into juice concentrates the sugar content. For that reason, it is better to eat (or drink) those things in moderation. Commercially made fruit juice tends to be made from concentrate and is extremely high in sugar. The whole juice, with bits in it, is much better, but it should only be drunk very occasionally, if at all, by diabetics.

Diabetes Symptoms: bowl-of-fruit

The other kind of fruit ‘juice’ that should be avoided is smoothies. When you blend fruit, it breaks down the fibre. This speeds up how fast the sugar enters the bloodstream and raises blood sugar levels. If you enjoy smoothies as a diabetic, it is best to have those that are vegetable based, as they still pack a powerful, nutrient-packed punch but without the sugar.

Here is a checklist of the fruits to eat (or avoid) if you have diabetes.

1. Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruit are good sources of vitamin C and fibre. They're also low in sugar, making them a good choice for diabetics (5).

2. Berries such as raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries

Berries such as raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are also low in sugar and high in fibre. They make a great addition to a diabetic diet. Add them to porridge at breakfast time or have them with natural yoghurt for a healthy dessert (6). blueberries (7), blackberries (8), and strawberries (9). Strawberries have also been proven to help manage blood sugar and have an anti-diabetic effect. If you want another reason to eat strawberries, they are also great at helping regulate cholesterol levels and lowering inflammation, which can lead to heart disease and cancer (10).

3. Watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melons

Melons such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew are relatively high in sugar, but they're also a good source of vitamins and minerals. Diabetics should eat them in moderation. With that said, cantaloupe, surprisingly, has less sugar than watermelon. So if you fancy a slice of melon, cantaloupe is the ‘safer’ choice for diabetics (6).

4. Dried fruits such as raisins, dates, apricots and figs

Dried fruits such as raisins, dates, apricots, and figs are very high in sugar and should be avoided by diabetics. The only time these are helpful for diabetics is when they experience a hypoglycemic episode (11). However, some studies have found that raisins can control blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and play a part in reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease (11). If you choose to eat raisins, it is advisable to carefully monitor your blood sugar levels. This can be done with a continuous blood sugar monitor or thumb prick tests.

Apples are a good source of pectin

5. Apples are a good source of pectin, which is a fruit fibre. However, they are also one of the fruits with the highest sugar. Diabetics should eat them in moderation or avoid them altogether.

Pears are another fruit that is high in sugar

6. Pears are another fruit that is high in sugar, but they too are a good source of fibre. Diabetics should eat them in moderation or avoid them altogether (6).

Grapes are one of the most popular fruits

7. Grapes are one of the most popular fruits, after bananas and strawberries (12), which is not surprising because they are very sweet, due to their high sugar content and so, unfortunately, should be avoided by diabetics.


8. Bananas are mid-range in regard to their sugar content (6) but they're also a good source of potassium and other nutrients. For this reason, diabetics should eat them now and again. Bananas are often sold in so-called health food stores as dried flakes. These are incredibly high in sugar so diabetics should definitely not eat these. You can slice bananas onto your morning porridge or they are delicious on a slice of wholegrain, seeded bread with some peanut or almond butter.

Mangoes taste delicious

9. Mangoes taste delicious because they are very high in sugar. So unfortunately, these are a no-go for diabetics and should be avoided. (6).

Fruits that are lower in sugar

10. Fruits that are lower in sugar are avocados, pears, papayas, and guavas. If you want a pudding after your meal, a fruit salad with papaya, guava, strawberries, cantaloupe, and raspberries, with or without natural yoghurt, is ideal. In addition, guava, apricots, Kiwi fruit, oranges, and avocado also contain more protein than other fruits. This also slows down the speed at which they are digested and keeps blood sugar levels more stable (13).


If you have diabetes, adding fruit to your diet is a great way to get the nutrients your body needs while keeping your blood sugar levels in check. And with so many delicious options to choose from, there's no reason not to enjoy fruit as part of a healthy, diabetes-friendly diet.





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