Can You Eat Fruits If You Are a Diabetic? Here’s a Handy Guide
Should diabetics eliminate fruit from their diet? 
Should diabetics eliminate fruit from their diet? (Photo: iStock)

Can You Eat Fruits If You Are a Diabetic? Here’s a Handy Guide

Fruits get a bad rap when it comes to diabetes. Because of their high sugar content, they are seen as ‘foods to avoid.’

But doctors say it’s the total number of carbohydrates that affects blood sugar levels, not whether the source is starch or sugar.

Besides, fruits offer natural sugars and are also rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre.

That diabetics should not eat fruit is one of the biggest myths out there. Fruits contain natural sugars but if consumed in moderation, they will only benefit diabetics. For diabetics with a sweet tooth, fruits are a much better option than mithai, doughnuts, pastries and muffins.
Huda Shaikh, Nutritionist and Clinical Dietitian

So if you are a diabetic, or prone to diabetes, you don’t have to avoid fruits. Just watch what you eat. And perhaps eat some fruits more than others.

Also Read: Diabetes Explained: A Crash Course in This Morbid Disease

Are There Fruits Which Diabetics Should Completely Avoid?

According to nutritionists:

There is no fruit which can be called harmful. However, fruits such as banana, custard apple, mango, grapes, dates and chikoo have high sugar content and patients are advised to carefully monitor portion sizes.
Huda Shaikh, Nutrionist

Basically, in the ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100, fruits with low GI will raise your blood sugar levels less than fruits with high GI.

Dried figs have a very high Glycemic Index, therefore patients with diabetes should avoid them. 
Dr Anoop Misra, Chairman, Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology
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Opt for Fruits with Lower GI

Diabetics are advised to eat more fruits that have a low GI or Glycemic Index.

Apples have a low GI and hence advisable for patients with diabetes. Cinnamon also leads to significant improvements in all components of metabolic syndrome.
Dr Anoop Misra, Chairman, Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology
Fruits with GI value of less than 55 are safe choices for diabetics as they release carbs slowly and help regulate sugar levels better. Apples, pears, oranges, berries and plums are recommended.

These fruits, that are digested slowly, act as a source of constant energy as opposed to high GI fruits which may lead to a sugar rush.

Now, watermelon has a higher GI, but has a lower Glycemic load. So you can have it, but in moderation.

Jamun: Wonder Fruit for Diabetes

Several studies have claimed that jamun seeds are laden with anti-diabetic properties. According to Diabetic Living India, “extracts of the bark, seeds and leaves of jamun have been found to cause a marked, prolonged decrease in blood sugar and glycouria (sugar in urine).”

Diabetic patients can include this fruit as a part of their diet as it significantly enhances insulin activity. Jamun, when combined with cinnamon, can be excellent for controlling surging blood sugar levels.

Fruits and Diabetes: Some Useful Tips

People with diabetes should trade fruit juices for whole fruits as fruits ensure a steady supply of fibre. Milkshakes should be avoided as they are low in fibre and high on fats and added sugar.
Huda Shaikh, Nutritionist and Clinical Dietitian

While it’s important for diabetics to keep an eye on what they eat, it’s equally important that they monitor HOW they eat these fruits.

Keep a gap of at least 1-1.5 hours after your meals and then have a fruit. Eat fruits preferably in the morning before breakfast or post breakfast. Try and add at least 2 fruits in the diet and do not club them with meals. Either eat fruits before meals or after meals.
Even slight decrease in calories and body weight through exercise can benefit diabetic patients. 
Dr Anoop Misra, Chairman, Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology

Balance is the key for diabetics - balance in diet and in exercise. As a rule don’t forget to exercise regularly while enjoying your fruit.

Also Read: Type 2 Diabetes Is a Silent Killer, Could You Have It?

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