Fruits in type 2 diabetes are an important part of proper nutrition and should not be completely excluded from the menu. Although vegetables affect blood sugar to a lesser extent, fruits are also very beneficial for health. Diabetics are often told they shouldn't eat fruit because it's too sweet and contains sugar. Of course, they supply the body with more or less fructose and dextrose, but also a good mix of vitamins, minerals and fiber. They reduce the risk of getting sick from various diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, obesity and some types of cancer.
This makes them important for diabetics as well, who are at risk of the same conditions and diseases.
Are there forbidden fruits in diabetes?
Good diabetes control includes maintaining normal blood sugar, optimal blood pressure, blood fats, and a healthy body weight. Eating fruits and vegetables helps achieve these goals.
People's concerns are mainly related to the fact that fruit contains sugar, which can raise blood sugar. In practice, however, most fruits have a low to medium glycemic index, so they don't cause a spike in blood glucose like carbohydrate foods like white or whole grain meats.
Portion size matters
Let's look at things in detail when it comes to the effect of fruit on blood sugar. An average serving of fruit (the size of a handful) contains about 15-20 g of carbohydrates, which is comparable to a slice of bread. For comparison, a can of cola contains 35 g of carbohydrates, the same as a medium-sized chocolate chip cookie.
If you want to reduce your carbohydrate intake for better blood sugar control, first reduce or stop your intake of sodas, biscuits, sweets, chocolates and the like.
The next step is to reduce your portions of foods that contain starch, starting with processed foods and those that have added fat, salt, and sugar.
Fruit is unlikely to be the main cause of high blood sugar levels. However, to be on the safe side, it's best to keep a food diary to be aware of how much fruit and vegetables you're eating. Most diabetics do not need to reduce the amounts. The health benefits outweigh the risk of blood sugar spikes. Of course, it's not about eating large amounts of overly sweet things like dried dates or pineapple.
Look more: 7 surprising symptoms of diabetes
Five servings of fresh food every day
The German Nutrition Society recommends that we eat two portions of fruit and three portions of vegetables every day. One portion corresponds to the volume of one handful.
Fruits that do not have much fructose and are high in water content are apples, pears, oranges, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries. The ballast substances contained in them (fibers) do not allow blood sugar to rise quickly.
More caution is needed with dried fruit. Even if they have no added sugar, they are more concentrated in sweetness and calories than the fresh version. For example, 100 g of figs have 13 g of fructose, and 100 g of dried figs – 55 g.
Here is an example of fruit sugar content in some fruits:
- Apple: 100 g = 11 g carbohydrates = about 1 bread unit
- Pear: 100 g = 12 g carbohydrates = about 1 bread unit
- Banana: 100 g = 20 g carbohydrates = about 1.5 bread units
- Figs: 70g = 9g carbs = about 1.5 bread units
- Orange: 100 g = 8 g carbohydrates = about 0.7 bread units
- Strawberries: 100g = 6g carbohydrates = about 0.5 bread unit
- Grapes: 100g = 15g carbohydrates = about 1.2 bread units
- Dates: 100g = 65g carbohydrates = about 5.5 bread units
The advantage is on the side of vegetables. However, European nutritionists do not advise diabetics to give up fruit. They contain many valuable substances such as vitamins, minerals and fiber, as well as secondary plant substances. There is practically no fat in them. Most types of fruit are low in calories. This is important for people with type 2 diabetes, who often struggle with excess weight.
Too sweet fruits raise blood sugar
The fact is that some sweeter fruits can increase blood sugar, especially in type 2 diabetes. The reason is insulin resistance, which does not allow the optimal absorption of sugar by the cells in the body.
However, this is not a reason to give up sweet fruits completely, nutritionists point out. The benefits outweigh the risks. You just have to match them with the dose of insulin you inject and the rest of the menu. If consumption of sweet fruits (grapes, pineapple, dates) is within the usual two servings, blood sugar should remain normal anyway.
Dried fruits are high in calories and sugar
Fresh fruit is always preferable. The fiber in them also helps slow the rise in blood sugar despite the fructose. If you want to experiment and find out your individual reaction to individual fruits, you can measure blood sugar before consumption and an hour later. That way you will know for sure what the effect is for you.
A greater increase is expected after eating dried fruit. Their dehydration leads to a greater concentration of sugar.
Sugar in fruits - grape and fructose
There are different types of sugar in fruit. In addition to grape sugar (glucose), there is also fructose. The second type is processed in the body without the participation of insulin. The risk here is that large amounts of fructose contribute to fatty liver. The amounts contained in the fruit are not risky. But the fructose in natural juices and carbonated drinks is risky.
Look more: How to eat and treat liver steatosis?
Smoothies are no substitute for fresh fruit
Pureed fruit drinks have been popular recently among health advocates. However, smoothies are not an equal substitute for fresh fruit. Experts recommend being careful with them, because sometimes pureed fruits have a higher concentration. Before that, they were peeled, squeezed or heated. Thus, a part of the useful substances in the fruits is lost. In addition, such drinks are less satiating than eating whole fruits. However, they have the same number of calories. Also, blood sugar levels rise faster after smoothies compared to eating fresh fruit.