Are you a diabetes sufferer who is concerned about whether or not to eat fruit? Experts say that it is OK for those with diabetes to eat fruit as part of their five a day target for fruit and veg, as long as they aren’t allergic to a particular fruit.
Eating fruit provides plenty of nutritional benefits, not to mention filling us up and tasting great! But the sugar contained in most fruits means we should pay close attention to the link between them and blood sugar.
Why fruit preparation matters
How our fruit is prepared has a relationship with blood sugar. It is understood that processed fruits – from concentrated fruit juice to tinned fruit – should be avoided by those with diabetes, or eaten in small quantities. That’s because of the faster absorption of processed fruits, which can lead to blood sugar spikes. We also lose some of the ‘good stuff’ in the processing, such as fibre and vitamins. Those are some of the reasons why fruits which are fresh or frozen whole are, in general, better.
Do you love a smoothie? You should note that while they might be blended from fresh fruit, smoothies are also absorbed very quickly compared to whole fresh fruit, meaning they can lead to blood sugar spikes.
How to choose the right fruit
The glycemic index (GI) can help those with diabetes to select the right fruit. A glycemic index score – from 0 to 100 – reflects the rate at which a food raises blood sugar levels. Thankfully, many fruits – such as apples, avocados, bananas, cherries, grapefruit, nectarines, oranges, peaches and strawberries – have a low GI score of under 55. There are also several classed as having a medium score; such as figs, papayas and pineapples. And even though watermelons and dates have a high GI score of over 70, they are not classed as unsafe to eat with diabetes. It just means you should aim to eat more low GI fruits than those with a high rating.
Don’t forget about the benefits
There are some benefits which fresh fruit offers which those with diabetes should not ignore. These include the presence of soluble fibre, which plays a role in slowing the absorption of sugar. A sufficient fruit and vegetable intake can also help to prevent obesity, which has been linked to Type 2 diabetes.
In summary, a mindful approach to fruit makes sense for diabetes sufferers – always think fresh, and avoid processed varieties.