Diabetes is one of the most commonly seen lifestyle diseases throughout the world. Millions of people are affected by it. Adherence to a healthy, balanced diet and healthy lifestyle is crucial to preventing and managing diabetes.
People suffering from it should monitor the glycemic index of everything they eat. The glycemic index is the ranking of carbohydrate rich foods in the diet according to how they affect blood sugar levels.
The higher the ranking, the higher the effect on blood sugar levels. Most people who have diabetes do not consume anything sweet or extra sugar.
Some fruits have a low glycemic index. Diabetic patients can eat such fruits in moderation. Choosing them can be a bit daunting. Below we will discuss the most common fruits that people with diabetes can include in limited amounts in their diet.
Why are Fruits Beneficial During Diabetes?
The notion that fruits are not safe for patients with diabetes is entirely wrong. Fruits are rich in a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and fibre. These are excellent for controlling blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The fibre content in fruits can also help prevent unhealthy cravings and overeating by making the stomach feel full. So they also play a vital role in healthy weight management, increasing your insulin sensitivity, thus helping with managing diabetes.
What is the Glycemic Index?
The glycemic index is a statistic that measures how much a food that contains carbohydrates raises blood glucose levels. People with diabetes mainly follow the glycemic guide to choose the right foods.
Foods with a high glycemic index value tend to raise your blood sugar levels more than foods with a low GI value. Foods with a value of 55 or less are considered low glycemic index foods, those with a value for 56 to 69 are considered medium glycemic index foods and those with a value above 70 are considered high glycemic index foods.
A person with diabetes should consume fruits with low to medium glycemic index. Of these, however, low-GI fruits are most preferred. In addition, water-based fruits are beneficial for people with diabetes.
Average Blood Sugar Level by Age
Normal blood glucose levels for adults is 90 to 110 mg/dL. At the same time, for children less than six years the glucose levels are as follows:
- Fasting: 80-180 mg/dl
- Before Eating: 100-180 mg/dl
- 1-2 hours after eating: ~180 mg/dl
- Bedtime: 110-200 mg/dl
For adolescents ( Age 6- 12) the blood sugar values are as follows:
- Fasting: 80-180mg/dl
- Before eating: 90-180 mg/dl
- 1-2 hours after eating: Up to 140 mg/dl
- Bedtime: 100-180 mg/dl
For Teenagers (Ages 12- 19) the blood sugar values are as follows:
- Fasting: 70-150 mg/dl
- Before Eating: 90-130 mg/dl
- 1-2 hours after eating: Up to 140 mg/dl
- Bedtime: 90-150 mg/dl
For adults ( Age Above 20 years), the blood sugar values are as follows:
- Fasting: Less than 100 mg/dl
- Before Eating: 70-130 mg/dl
- 1-2 hours after eating: Less than 180mg/dl
- Bedtime: 100-140 mg/dl
The Best Fruits to Consume when you have Diabetes
Nutritional Value of Grapefruit
A 100g serving contains:
- Calories: 42 kcal
- Fat: 0.14 g
- Total carbohydrates: 10.66 g (fibre 1.6 g + sugar 6.86 g)
- Protein: 0.77 g
- Potassium: 135 mg
Percentage daily values based on a 2,000-calorie diet RDI:
- Vitamin A: 23%
- Vitamin C: 52%
- Calcium: 1.7%
- Iron: 0.4%
- Magnesium: 18 mg
- Phosphorus: 18 mg
- Zinc: 0.16 mg
- Thiamine: 4%
- Folate: 4%
- Magnesium: 3% (present in half medium grapefruit)
This is a common citrus fruit with about 91% of it being water. It is high in vitamin C reserves. Its glycemic index is 25, and it contains high amounts of fibre reserves.
In addition, evidence suggests grapefruit contains a substance called naringenin, a flavonoid that enhances insulin sensitivity in the body. Therefore, it is advisable to take them as part of your daily routine to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
Nutrition value of Strawberries
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that 1 cup of sliced, fresh strawberries, or 166 grams (g), contains the following nutrients:
- calories: 53 calories
- protein: 1.11 g
- carbohydrates: 12.7 g
- dietary fiber: 3.30 g
- calcium: 27 milligrams (mg)
- iron: 0.68 mg
- magnesium: 22 mg
- phosphorus: 40 mg
- potassium: 254 mg
- vitamin C: 97.60 mg
- folate: 40 micrograms
- vitamin A: 20 international units
Strawberries are full of vitamins, antioxidants and fibre that can help you control your diabetes. In addition, the glycemic index for strawberries is 41.
They help keep your stomach full and allow you without losing energy levels. It helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Consuming about a 3/4 cup of strawberries a day is beneficial for people with diabetes.
Nutritional Facts of Orange
- Calories – 60
- Fiber – 3 grams
- Sugar – 12 grams
- Protein – 1 gram
- Vitamin A – 14 Micrograms
- Vitamin C – 70 Milligrams
- Calcium – 6% of the daily recommended dose
- Potassium – 237 Milligrams
- Carbohydrates – 15.4 grams
High in fibre, low in sugar, and high in nutrients such as vitamin C and thiamine, oranges can help control blood sugar levels.
As per a study, they have a water reserve of 87% and a low glycemic index. Orange can also help you maintain your weight. To effectively manage your diabetes, you can take oranges daily. Its glycemic index is 44.
Nutritional Value of Cherries
Despite a high sugar content, cherries are a great source of vitamin C and phytonutrients.
- Protein – 1.4 g
- Calories – 87 calories
- Carbs – 22g
- Fibre – 3 g
- Fat -0.3 g
- Vitamin C – 16%
- Vitamin A – 2%
- Iron – 3%
- Calcium – 2%
- Saturated fat – 0g
Cherries with a low glycemic index of 22 are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, iron, beta carotene, potassium, folate, magnesium and fibre. Therefore, they are highly beneficial for people with diabetes. Also, cherries are full of anthocyanins.
These lower blood sugar levels by increasing insulin production by 50%. Therefore, it is advisable to take one cup of fresh cherries a day to control diabetes.
Nutritional Facts of Apple
A medium Apple with a diameter of about 3 inches is equal to 1.5 cups of fruit and offers the following nutrients:-
- Calories – 95
- Fiber – 4grams
- Carbohydrates – 25grams
- Protein – 0.3 grams
- Sugar – 10.4 grams
- Fat – 0.2 grams
- Vitamin C – 14 percent of the RDI (Reference Daily Intake)
- Vitamin K – 5 percent of the RDI
- Potassium – 6 percent of the RDI
- Water – 86 percent
Apples are high in vitamin C, diluted fibre and antioxidants, which help control diabetes. In addition, as per a study, they contain pectin and can help eliminate toxins from your body and reduce insulin requirements by about 35% in people with diabetes. Its glycemic index is also low, i.e. 38 and it is very commonly available.
Nutritional Properties of Pears
Over 100 variations of pears grow worldwide, but they all have one thing in common. All the varieties are incredibly nutritious and have more or less the same vitamins and minerals.
Here are the nutrients in a medium-sized pear.
- Calories – 101
- Protein – 1 gram
- Carbohydrates – 27 grams
- Fibre – 6 grams
- Vitamin C – 12% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Vitamin K – 6% of DV
- Potassium – 4% of DV
- Copper – 16% of DV
Pears are another excellent fruit that is good for people with diabetes. They contain high amounts of fibre and vitamins and 84% water reserves, which help control blood sugar levels. They help to increase insulin sensitivity and lower the glycemic level to 38. Eat one regularly.
In addition to being low in calories, plums are also low in glycemic index i.e. 24. They are a great source of fibre. It is an ideal fruit for people with diabetes and heart patients. We continue to observe that many people suffer from diabetes and constipation. These plums can help improve the digestive system and prevent constipation as part of that process.
Avocado Nutrition Facts
- Calories: 160
- Fat: 14.7g
- Sodium: 7mg
- Carbohydrates: 8.5g
- Fiber: 6.7g
- Sugars: 0.7g
- Protein: 2g
- Magnesium: 29mg
- Potassium: 485mg
- Vitamin C: 10mg
- Vitamin E: 2.1mg
- Vitamin K: 21mcg
The healthy fats and potassium in avocado are beneficial for people with diabetes. In addition, it helps lower triglycerides and harmful cholesterol levels in the body. Its glycemic index is as low as 15.
Peaches Nutritional Value
One medium-sized peach (5.4 ounces or 150 grams) provides approximately (Source):
- Calories: 58
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: less than 1 gram
- Carbs: 14 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Vitamin C: 17% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin A:10% of the DV
- Potassium: 8% of the DV
- Niacin: 6% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 5% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 5% of the DV
- Copper: 5% of the DV
- Manganese: 5% of the DV
Due to the low glycemic index of this fruit, the fibre content is high. The antioxidants and vitamins found in peaches are also beneficial for diabetes. It has a glycemic index of 28.
10. Black Jamun
Nutritional Facts of Jamun Fruit
Jamun is loaded with all the important nutrients. Though the fruit is packed with fructose and glucose, it’s a low-calorie fruit.
It’s an excellent source of iron, potassium, vitamin C, proteins, carbohydrates, and magnesium. Since the fruit is low in calories, it is perfect for healthy snacking!
Jamun is also a rich source of antioxidants, calcium, phosphorus, and flavonoids. It also contains other nutrients such as sodium, thiamine, riboflavin, carotene, fibre, niacin, folic acid, protein, and fat.
Traditionally, this fruit is used mainly by people living in rural areas. However, these black Jamuns are also found in urban areas today. Evidence suggests that black Jamun has anti-diabetic properties and is also one of the most recommended fruits for diabetes. It helps in improving blood sugar levels. If the seeds are dry, you can also consume them. Its glycemic index is 28.
11. Custard Apple
Nutrition Value of Custard Apple
A fresh, 100-gram custard apple contains:
- Calories – 94
- Proteins – 2.1 gms
- Dietary Fiber – 4.4 gms
- Total Fat – 0.0 gms
- Carbohydrates – 23.6 gms
Custard apples are a rich source of nutrients and minerals required by the body. So, let’s take a look at the table below to understand the nutritional values of the fruit.
People with diabetes can eat custard apples because their glycemic index is moderate, i.e. 54. Custard apples offer many other benefits like reducing the acidity in the stomach and curing inflammation. In addition, it contains beneficial minerals like potassium and manganese which are essential for strengthening the heart and circulatory system.
Nutritional Value of Pomegranate
One hundred grams of pomegranate arils contain the following nutrients.
- Calories: 83 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 18.7 g
- Sugar: 13.67 g
- Fibre: 4 g
- Protein: 1.67 g
- Fat: 1.17 g
Consuming this fruit is highly beneficial for people with diabetes as its glycemic index is only 18. It helps in improving the blood sugar levels in the body.
Amla Nutritional Value
For adults, a recommended amount of daily amla consumption is 75-90 mg per day.
Nutritional value (100 g)
- Energy 58 kilo calories
- Fiber 3.4%
- Proteins 0.5%
- Fat 0.1%
- Carbohydrates 13.7 g
- Calcium 50 %
- Iron 1.2 mg
- Carotene 9 microgram
- Thiamine 0.03mg
- Riboflavin 0.01mg
- Nicene 0.2mg
- Vitamin 600mg
Amla has a glycemic index of 40 and is rich in vitamin C and fibre. If you consume it frequently, it helps to reduce blood glucose levels.
Nutritional Value of Papaya
There are many benefits of eating papaya. Papayas are an excellent source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. 100 grams of ripe papaya consists of 32 calories, 0.6g of protein, 0.1g of fat, 7.2g of carbs and 2.6g of fibre.
The fruit contains antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation, fight a host of diseases, and help one look younger by keeping wrinkles at bay.
One small papaya (approx. 152 grams) contains:
- Carbohydrates: 15 grams
- Fibre: 3 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Vitamin C: 157% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 33% of the RDI
- Folate (vitamin B9): 14% of the RDI
- Potassium: 11% of the RDI
High in a plethora of nutrients, papaya has excellent properties that help prevent diabetes and diabetes-based heart disease from harmful free radicals. Its glycemic index is 60.
Nutrients per Serving
One whole, fresh apricot contains:
- Calories: 17
- Protein: Less than 1 gram
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 4 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Sugar: 3 grams
- Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
- Sodium: 0 milligrams
Apricots are high in antioxidants that neutralise free radicals or harmful compounds that damage your cells, thereby reducing your oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is associated with many chronic conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. Like pears and peaches, apricots have skin that provides fibre and helps maintain blood sugar levels. Fresh apricots have a GI of 34 and dried apricots a GI of 30.
The Fruits you can Eat in Moderation when you have Diabetes
Some fruits increase sugar levels rapidly in the body. So consuming these in large amounts can worsen your diabetes. It is advisable for people with diabetes to limit the intake of certain fruits in very small portions or combine them with other low GI, high fibre foods.
Bananas contain plenty of carbohydrates and sugars. With a GI of 51, diabetics can have it in moderation. In addition, bananas are rich in micronutrients, vitamins and fibre. Unripe and ripe bananas contain less starch and low GI than overripe ones so it is best to avoid over-ripened bananas.
Mangoes are known as the king of fruits. They have a GI of around 56 but people do tend to consume them in larger amounts than recommended. Therefore, avoiding mangoes is preferable for people with diabetes. If your blood sugar levels are under control, you can have them in amounts recommended by your nutritionist.
Watermelon is a favourite fruit for many, especially in the summer as it rich in water and helps to quench thirst. In addition, it is rich in lycopene that helps in lowering the chances of cancer and heart disease. Due to its high GI of about 80, eating more than a piece or 2 at a time isnt recommended.
Pineapples have high anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties but because they have a GI value of 56 its best to consume pineapple in limited portions as a part of a healthy and balanced diet.
5. Sapota or Chikoo
Sapotas are rich in fibre suitable for people with diabetes and obesity. However, they have a glycemic index of about 56 so eating them daily would definitely cause blood sugar levels to spike.
The Bottom Line
As a part of a healthy and nutritious diet plan, the consumption of fruits is essential. Although they contain natural sugars and carbohydrates, many dieticians and nutritionists suggest diabetic patients eat certain fruits for their other benefits.
The majority of fruits contain high amounts of fibre which is essential to reduce blood glucose levels. They also have high amounts of copper, manganese, zinc, several vitamins, micronutrients, proteins and other nutrients, which are helpful to maintain good health. Diabetic patients must adjust other carbs quantity to include fruits in their diet. Some fruits rapidly spike blood glucose levels when you take them. Hence it is mandatory to keep an eye on portions and which fruits are being eaten.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Is watermelon OK for diabetics?
A. Watermelon contains a high quantity of carbohydrates and a high glycemic index. Hence, it is not suitable for diabetic patients unless eaten in very small specified amounts.
Q. What is normal blood sugar by age?
A. Normal blood glucose levels for adults is 90 to 110 mg/dL. At the same time, for children less than six years, the glucose levels are 110 to 200 mg/dl, and for the ones belonging from the 6 to 12 age group, it is 100 to 180 mg/dl. Furthermore, teenagers should have it between 90 to 150 mg/dl.
Q. Which fruit is lowest in sugar?
A. Almost all fruits contain sugar, but the levels vary. People with diabetes should eat fruits that contain low sugars. Strawberries, guavas and grapefruits contain less sugar compared to other fruits.
Q. Are fruits good for diabetes?
A. Experts suggest that consumption of fruits is essential and good for diabetes even though they contain natural sugars due to their high vitamin and mineral content. Some fruits with a high glycemic index that increase blood glucose levels rapidly. Hence intake of those fruits should be limited.
Q. Which fruit has the most sugar?
A. Lychees have high sugar content. In many desserts, it also is used as a sweetener. Bananas and mangoes are also rich in sugar content. Compared to fresh fruits, dried fruits have high quantities of sugar.
Q. Which apples are best for diabetics?
A. All varieties of apples are great for people with diabetes. Tart green apples-like the Granny Smith is the healthiest variety as it contains low sugars, and is rich in minerals and fibre. As a result, it helps in weight loss and reduces blood glucose levels, thereby decreasing the development of type 2 diabetes.
Q. What foods have no sugar?
A. A variety of foods have no sugar or very little sugar. Vegetables like bitter gourd, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, lettuce, spinach, beans, and okra and fruits like green apples, avocado, lemon, strawberry and peaches have less sugar while protein rich foods like chicken and eggs have no sugar at all.