In addition to being a natural option, fruits are a delicious and healthy choice when it comes to meeting some of our daily nutritional needs. Although people with diabetes can include fruits in their diet, it is important to know which ones are suitable for this population and which are not so suitable. Here we answer some of those questions.
Although it is understood as a chronic health condition, diabetes (type 1, type 2, or gestational) is a manageable condition, and more so if you start by knowing which foods do or do not benefit those who have this disease. When a person has diabetes, before thinking about not being able to eat certain foods, the first thing that must be clear is what amounts or portions of certain foods can metabolize his/her body correctly.
Also, it should be considered the way in which the fruit is prepared, an aspect that can affect the increase in blood sugar levels (glycemia). In that sense, it will always be better to consume fresh, whole, frozen fruits, rather than packaged or processed.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), people with diabetes should avoid fruit juices or canned fruits with added sugar. Diabetes patients should either eat processed foods sparingly or avoid them entirely, as they are absorbed more quickly by the body, resulting in higher blood sugar levels.
Why should we eat fruit?
Fruits are an excellent food option because they have a combination of water, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals that provide multiple nutrients to the body.
Fruits contain two types of sugar: fructose and glucose. Depending on the variety of fruit, the proportions of each class of sugar vary. While glucose increases blood sugar (glycemia), causing the body to use insulin to metabolize it, fructose does not raise blood glucose.
The truth is that, even for people without diabetes, the sugar in fruits is much healthier than that from other food sources. Whereas with a can or bottle of soda a person consumes about 40 grams of sugar and nothing else, with a fruit —which reaches by far 20 grams of sugar— they obtain minerals, fiber, and vitamins, among other valuable nutrients.
Recommended fruits for people with diabetes
Fruits are a healthy way to satisfy cravings for something sweet, as well as representing a source of nutrients for the body. However, we must know how to select the ones that will be part of our diet, considering that some fruits such as bananas, watermelon, and mangoes usually provide more sugar than others. Keep in mind the fruits in this list if you want to reduce the intake of sugars in your daily diet:
Strawberry: it is rich in fiber and contains little sugar.
Peach: although its flavor is sweet, it does not contain more than 13 grams of sugar.
Blackberry: like strawberry, they contain between 4 and 5 grams of sugar, and represent a good source of antioxidants.
Lemon and lime: Although they are not practical as a snack, because they are so acidic, they have less than 2 grams of sugar, so they are a good option to dress salads or add to soda, and thus replace sugary soft drinks.
Melon: a slice of melon contains about 11 grams of sugar, plus it has potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
Orange: A medium orange contains on average 14 grams of sugar and is a good source of vitamin C.
Grapefruit: Half a medium grapefruit contains about 11 grams of sugar.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [website]. Nutrition, diet, and physical activity if you have diabetes [published in November 2016; accessed August 21, 2019]. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/informacion-de-la-salud/diabetes/informacion-general/nutricion-alimentacion-actividad-físicaMedical News Today [website]. Fruits for people with diabetes [published on November 19, 2018; accessed August 20, 2019]. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/311220.php}