Oftrepaeated advice for people with diabetes is that they should not eat fruits like mango, banana, berries or melon. But does this advice hold any good?

According to a renowned nutritionist Michael Pollan, “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”   This article answers the question, should diabetics avoid fruits and debunks the myth that fruit is not safe for diabetics.

Why Is Fruit Good For You?

The sugar in fruit is not the same as the sugar in other manufactured food items. It is metabolized differently and there are loads of other nutrients in the fruit that you simply cannot afford to miss. Here are the reasons why fruit is good for diabetes:

Sugar in Fruits vs Sugar in Processed Food

Refined sugar, fructose, and glucose that is common food in manufactured food can spike your blood sugar levels and cause insulin resistance. Whereas, whole sugar found in fruits are packaged with water, anti-oxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that actually has a protective effect on diabetes.

While it is true that having fruit can cause an immediate spike in blood glucose levels, the amount of insulin required to break down fruits is lesser than the amount of insulin required for other foods.

Glycemic Load of Fruit is Low

A common index used to assess the amount of glucose in a food item is referred to as the GI or glycemic index. But a more accurate measurement of the food-blood sugar effect is the glycemic load or GL which takes into account the GI plus the grams of carbohydrates per serving of the food.

The glycemic load of most of the fruits is lower when compared to its glycemic index. Take, for example, strawberries which have a glycemic index of 41, but a glycemic load of 3.

Even mangoes which rank high on the glycemic index have a relatively lower glycemic load. A small serving of mangoes comes with loads of vitamins, fiber, and anti-oxidants. Celebrity dietician Rujuta Diwekar recommends eating mango even if you have diabetes as long as it is in-season and locally grown. Also, studies have shown that you don’t have to give up mangoes altogether if you have diabetes.

Fruit fights Inflammation and Bolsters Immunity

The phenolic compounds of fruit have anti-inflammatory properties and support your immune function. For instance, peaches, plums, and nectarines are anti-inflammatory and papaya and pineapple contain beneficial digestive enzymes that aids digestion and fights inflammation. Instead of having food from a packet, why not opt for natural sources of fruit that are beneficial for your health.

When is Fruit Bad?

Fruit taken in the form of fruit juices, smoothies and shakes are not really recommended for diabetics. Juices cause an instant spike in your blood sugar levels as opposed to a controlled release of glucose in its natural whole form.  Therefore, it is better to consume fruits in natural form to reap their maximum benefits.

The same goes for canned fruits which are often stored in sugary syrups or contain added sweeteners or other flavoring agents. In addition, you should also take care of how much servings of fruit you eat in your meals.

Don’t over-consume fruits as this can also cause elevated blood sugar levels for people with diabetes. The aim is to balance it out in such a way that you don’t crave for sweet food and are able to consume fruit in its natural whole form for a slow release of glucose in your blood.

The Verdict – How Much Fruits to Eat If You Have Diabetes?

The common misconception surrounding the consumption of fruits is because of its carbohydrates content. That makes it easy to look at the banana and frown because it has 27 grams of carbs. But you should also realize that it has three grams of fiber and about 20% of your vitamin B-6 along with a splash of Vitamin C.

Therefore don’t cut out on an entire category of food – especially when that food is a plant. Try to get two-three servings of fruits in a day. Watch out the portion of the fruit you consume, especially, if it is dry fruits like raisins, dates or apricots, don’t over-do and consume a whole bowl of it and limit your serving size. The best fruit choices for diabetics are apples, berries, kiwi, jamun, guava, and orange.

Consume fruits guilt-free to beat your hunger pangs without getting intimidated with its glucose content. As long as it’s in-season and locally grown, food in its natural form is any day better than eating out of a packet.


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