Diabetes and Fruit Consumption: Should You Eat It?

Diabetes and Fruit Consumption: Should You Eat It?

Many people with diabetes worry that they should avoid fruit juices, certain types of fruits, or fruits altogether! Even some physicians make special recommendations on fruits and fruit juices for their patients who have diabetes. For example, it is not uncommon to see a No fruit or fruit juice designation in the morning on a particular patient's meal plan.

So what's going on? Why are diabetics sometimes told not to have it?

First, let's be clear: fruit is good for us! It contains fiber, vitamins, electrolytes, fluids, and minerals that are very important for the body. Additionally, fruit contains carbohydrates and a little protein depending on the fruit. Typically, there is little to no fat in fruit, so no need to worry on that front!

But many diabetics are told to watch their carbohydrate consumption - some fruits are higher in carbohydrates and the natural sugars they contain can be more easily and quickly absorbed by the body. But this doesn't inherently mean you should not include fruit in your well-balanced diet. Opt for fruits higher in fiber, which help balance blood sugars over time, and budget for the extra carbs fruit can account for.

Let's think about bananas for a minute. Most people may have a banana with cereal, so they're adding this carbohydrate to cereal (a carb) and dairy (a carb), so decreasing the portion size becomes imperative to prevent over-consumption of carbohydrates at that meal. Watermelon is typically portioned in ball-size measurements. But, let's be honest, most people don’t consume one cup of watermelon balls! However, this portion is an optimal way to have a sweet treat without exceeding your carbohydrate allowance. It's important to note the rest of the meal would need more fiber as the watermelon is very low in fiber.

Fruits like apples and pears have the most fiber, while fruits like melon have very little fiber. Bananas are higher in a form of fiber called prebiotic than other fruits are. We don’t want to forget that soluble fiber, a very important type of fiber in our fruits, is a type of carbohydrate, so it will add to the total carbohydrate content of the fruit.

Let's compare some common fruits and see how their carb and fiber ratios stack up!

As you can see, the fruits vary little and portion adjustment may be important.

Fruit juice, however, is another story. A serving of juice is only 4 ounces and usually has little to no fiber. Most supermarket fruit juices contain little fruit and tons of added sugar. For diabetics, a 4-ounce juice may offer little satisfaction compared to having the whole fruit.

So, before nixing fruit altogether, be sure to keep these important in mind:

  1. Enjoy a variety of fruits, but remember that fruits higher in fiber help keep blood sugars stable!
  2. Make sure you eat the whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juice.
  3. Consider that excess fruits, beyond 3-4 each day depending on the individual, may add too much carbohydrate to your meal pattern and may cause highs and lows in blood sugar.
  4. As always, moderation remains key!
Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator

Hello Jeannene, that was a great article regarding the portions of fruit that a diabetic can have.
Comment by Tirrell57
August 23, 2015
I'm extremely new to this and having a very hard time controlling the highs and lows they jumped 200 points at a time I'm falling you to blast all the way because it's the only way I know how to eat the vegetables if I'm required to eat I hate festival and because I have partial dentures I have very hard time eating salad so the better diabetic recipes you can spend the better off my health will be thank you
Comment by Nigade
August 08, 2015
I, too, would like more articles/recipes specifically designed for diabetics. For instance, if diabetic are fruit smoothies harmful? Does adding fruit to the veggie blast increase blood sugar?
There is actually some substantially research showing 21 grams of protein at the breakfast meal is an optimal way to start the day. This research is the basis for some of the updates you may have noticed has been made to a variety of the breakfast cereals and cereal bars.
Comment by Newgram
January 19, 2015
I find it hard to believe that you can eat 3-4 fruits a day when one orange sends my blood sugar soaring.
NutriLiving Krista Haynes on February 25, 2015
Juice removes the fiber so there is nothing to delay the release of sugar into your bloodstream. That's the beauty of Blasting - it keeps the fiber! If it is veggie juice (with no root veggies like carrots or beets) then you should be fine. However, pure fruit juice spikes blood sugar and insulin. Each person is unique to what he or she can tolerate so monitor closely and alter as needed.
Hello I hope you nutriliving team do a superfood special for diabetic to lower or control the glucose, please help to living better life with nutriliving team God bless you all and keep working for the people your making the difference thank you
Comment by Sonyaduval
August 17, 2014
I was diagnosed a type 2 diabetic a few years ago. My A1c was 12.1 and I pleaded with my doctor to give me the opportunity to lose weight before placing me on insulin. She was reluctant. I lost 26 lbs. with the guidance of a nutritionist who told me opposite of what is being said in the article. No fruit juices because the sugar content is high, no to certain fruits that are high in sugar and will convert to sugar faster in the body (bananas, oranges, grapes). I was told to eat berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries) because they are low in sugar and will not convert to sugar fast. I was told to eat protein, low glycemic carbs and fiber choices for my meals and snacks (eating every 3 to 4 hours in order to keep my glucose stable. Staying away from sugar, even fruits that are high in natural sugars has helped me go from a 12.1 a1c to a 6.0 a1c without the meds. that have dangerous side effects. To date, I have lost a total of 49 lbs. When I juice, I juice with a lot of greens and berries only as my fruit options. I also found a wonderful supplement in Whole Foods that support glucose levels...Glucose Optimizer! In essence, I stay away from fruits that are high in natural sugar and fruit juices regardless of the fiber content. I can choose other options for fiber because when your body has a problem processing sugar, even natural sugars pose a problem. Every diabetic needs to read this book: The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman!
NutriLiving Jeannene Davis on May 30, 2015
So I am reading articles and I notice where you thought the opposite was being said in the initial article so I thought I would offer some insights to the article to help clarify there is much more to consider than just one piece or another. Berries like blueberries and strawberries typically have a lower glycemic index and one may notice you can have more of them in one serving than you can have of melon or other lower fiber fruit. Bananas, although they have pre-biotic fiber, are known to have greater amounts of carbohydrate content (from their natural sugar, fructose) as they ripen. Therefore, greener the banana, the less carbohydrate it provides. The protein is a completely different topic and the research shows that the overall stability of blood sugar is not affected by protein intake. However, clinically, as a Certified Diabetes Educator, I have seen substantial improvements in blood sugar stability in patients who consume lean protein with their carbohydrates. Actually, have seen them have fewer low blood sugars later in the day. The other thing about protein is that it must be lean to ensure a reduction in insulin resistance. Glycemic Index is a wonderful tool but every single item in a food makes a difference. This includes the age of the food, the extent to which it is cooked, processed, etc. So several foods combined can easily cancel each other out. High Fiber, Moderate Lean Protein, with adequate Carbohydrates has been shown to be our optimal means to maintain the healthiest pancreas. This is has been found to be true from a mainstream and a holistic approach. If you need anything, or have any questions, I plan to continue following up on the responses to the articles and hope to clarify anything that comes up. As Certified Diabetes Educators, we practice only after we have achieved our national standardization. Many of us have many years of research and clinical experience prior to sitting for the exam as well. So we certainly appreciate the vast array of experiences that individuals come across. We also enjoy a chance to help individuals work through the individualized variations they experience. Jeannene Davis, RD,LDN,CDE
Reply by bigboyjoe
January 26, 2015
Hi: Joe here. I enjoyed your article. We are both basicly in the same boat diabeticly. But my AIC level is 7.3. But still I do worry about it getting any higher. So...Along with using my new NBRX and slowly but surely eliminating all the bad foods from my diet, I am interested is the Glucose Optimizer that you speak of. We don't have a Whole Foods anywhere nearby, unfortunalty but I could by it online. What can I expect to pay for it and how often do you take it?
Are there receipes for diabetics so they can juice morning as a complete meal that has the fruit, vegetable and protein for a complete meal of 45-60 carbs and 7-14 protein. If there is a list of receipes for diabectics can or will you please forward. Also I do not want to loses weight but perhaps gain 5 lbs. Thank you, Charlotte
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