More people than ever now have diabetes. According to leading health charity, Diabetes UK, if nothing changes, over five million people could be diabetic by the year 2025. Around 90% of diabetes sufferers have type 2 diabetes, which is caused by a combination of genetics and poor lifestyle.
Therefore, weight management, nutrition and exercise are key. Staying active and eating a well-balanced diet is important if you want to keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. And a good diet includes an array of fresh, colourful and delicious vegetables and fruits. One common misconception is that diabetics shouldn’t eat fruit, but it’s actually an essential part of your daily nutrition.
So which fruits are recommended for a diabetic-friendly diet plan? Here’s a list of the best fruit for diabetics, including information on key nutrients, recommended portions, and important things to avoid.
Whole fruits such as apples are a tasty and convenient snack, especially for busy professionals on the go. Low in calories and loaded with fibre, they’re great for managing your weight and encouraging regular bowel movements. One small apple has just 77 calories and 21g of carbohydrates. Plus, eating the fruit whole makes portion control easier than ever. This is essential for people with diabetes who need to watch their consumption.
Another benefit of apples is their high water content, which makes them more filling. So you won’t be tempted to overeat between and during mealtimes.
Remember to avoid peeling your apples when you eat them. The skin is the most nutritious part as it contains all the main antioxidants.
Tart cherries are an excellent fruit for diabetics. They are low GI, making them an ideal snack between meals. Foods with low GI ratings mean that carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly into the body, which is essential in helping to manage glucose levels. This could also make you feel fuller for longer, so you stay refuelled throughout the day.
In addition to this, cherries are packed with antioxidants for fighting cancer and heart disease, and may also reduce inflammation.
According to The British Diabetic Association, adding a small portion to a balanced diet can be healthy. A small portion equates to 14 cherries, which is around 50 calories.
Remember to avoid canned cherries since they contain added sugar, which can spike your blood sugar.
Just a single orange can provide you with all the vitamin C you need for one day. This means you can keep colds and flu viruses at bay during the winter months. Moreover, the fibre content helps to regulate blood sugar, and the natural fruit sugar can prevent post-meal insulin spikes, making it an ideal snack for diabetics.
Like with apples, portion control is easy, and oranges come in at only 62 calories and 15g of carbs each. Add one to your lunchbox as a refreshing treat. It’s a healthier alternative to a high-sugar dessert.
Remember to avoid orange juice and other fruit juices, particularly the ones with added sugar. Whole fruits have been linked to a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, and it’s important to note that nutrients and water-soluble vitamins are lost in the juicing process.
Grapes are a healthy go-to fruit for diabetics due to their lower insulin response rate. This means they don’t tend to increase insulin levels too much, which is important for people with type 2 diabetes. But it’s vital to measure your portions, as grapes are often consumed in large amounts and it’s very easy to overeat.
One single grape contains a gram of carbohydrates, so a healthy portion is around 15 grapes. If you want to ensure that you don’t eat too much, make sure you count your grapes before serving or packing in your lunchbox.
Remember to avoid raisins and other dried fruits. When fruits are dried, the process creates a loss of water and a higher concentration of carbohydrates and sugar. While a cup of grapes contains roughly 27g of carbs, a cup of raisins contains 115g of carbs.
Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries all have very low GI scores, so they can be some of the best fruits for people with diabetes. Plus, they’re loaded with antioxidants, making them some of the healthiest ‘superfoods’ around.
Compared to grapes, which need strict serving control, you can indulge a little bit more too. As an example, you can enjoy 1¼ cup of strawberries per day for the same amount of carbohydrate as 15 grapes.
There’s also a lot of versatility with berries, as they can be eaten alone as a snack, served with cereal or oats, used in desserts, or used for low GI baking to add colour and flavour. Additionally, you can enjoy them fresh or frozen with the same amount of nutritional value.
Remember to avoid adding cream to your summer fruits. Strawberries and whipped cream is extremely popular during hot weather, but cream and other dairy products have trans fats that have been linked to inflammation, insulin resistance and increased belly fat.
There are so many reasons to add apricots to your diet. Not only are they a delicious snack that can curb sweet cravings, but they are rich in nutrients that are essential to the body. Full of beta-carotene, this fruit can defend against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. And packed with lutein, they can even help to protect and repair the retina from blue light damage, improving your eye health.
For diabetics, they are low calorie, low GI, while being high in dietary fibre. One fruit has just 17 calories and 4g of carbohydrates, making them safe to devour when you’re peckish.
One serving equates to four apricots, which can provide 50% of your required daily vitamin A. You will love their versatility too. They can be eaten as a sweet treat or tossed in a savoury salad.
Remember to avoid dried apricots or canned apricots as these will have much higher sugar content.
Of course this is guidance only; please seek advice from a doctor or dietician if you’re not sure of the best elements for your own diabetic diet.