Fruit is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, which can help to reduce blood pressure. The key to eating fruit is to make sure you eat the right kinds in the appropriate portions.
Fruit is a carbohydrate and it contains natural sugar called fructose. Carbohydrates, whether coming from bread, milk, yogurt, potatoes, or fruit, get broken down and turn into sugar or glucose. People who have diabetes should monitor how many carbohydrates they eat, including fruit servings. When choosing fruit you'll want to take the following tips into consideration:
Avoid Dried Fruit and Fruit Juices
Dried fruit, especially sweetened, is higher in carbohydrates per serving than natural whole fruit, and it contains more sugar because of the added sugars used to flavor it. It can also be lower in fiber if the skin is removed. Just two tablespoons of craisins (1oz) will cost you: 100 calories, 23g carbohydrate and 18g sugar (this yields almost 5 teaspoons of sugar).
Keep Portions in Check
If you are following a fixed, consistent carbohydrate meal plan, you need to factor in fruit as a carbohydrate choice. When choosing fruit, aim to stick to one fruit serving per meal or snack and limit your fruit servings to no more than about 2-3 max per day. One fruit serving = ~15 g of carbohydrate.
Here is a list of common fruits and what is considered one serving:
- 1 small piece (4 oz) - apple, orange, peach, pear, plum
- 1/2 medium banana
- 2 small tangerines (2 oz each) or 1 large (4 oz)
- 2 small kiwi (2 oz each)
- 4 small apricots (1 oz each)
- ~1 cup of melon: canteloupe, watermelon, honeydew
- 15 grapes or cheeries
- 1/3 medium mango
- 1 1/4 cup strawberries, 3/4 cup blueberries, 1 cup raspberries and blackberries*
* Raspberries and blackberries contain 8g of fiber per 1 cup serving.
If you are looking to get the most value for the biggest portion, then you will want to choose fruits that are very high in fiber like raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. For example: you can eat 1 1/4 cup of strawberries for 60 calories, 15g carbohydrate, 3.5g fiber, and 7.5 sugar vs. 1/2 medium banana which is 60 calories, 15g carbohydrate and 2g fiber and 8g sugar.
Choose Fruits With a Lower Glycemic Index
The American Diabetes Association suggests that you choose fruits that have a low glycemic index. The glycemic index, or GI, is used as a reference to measure how a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose. Foods are rated based on how they raise blood sugars in comparison to a reference food such as sugar or white bread. A food with a high GI will raise blood glucose more than that of a food with a medium or low GI. Most fruits have a low GI, with the exception of pineapple and melon. That doesn't mean you can never eat pineapple and melon, but if you notice your blood sugar spikes after you've eaten those foods, you should avoid them. Everyone has their own trigger foods, which spike blood sugars more than others. You may also find that the more ripe a fruit, the more it affects your blood sugar. Again, you should monitor your sugar to see which foods work best for you.
Pair it With Protein
Some people find that pairing fruit with protein can help to slow down how quickly blood sugars rise. I always recommend that you incorporate fruit into your meal allotment for carbohydrates or add protein to your fruit snack.
1 4 oz apple with 1 tablespoon almond butter
1 small non-fat Greek yogurt with 1 cup raspberries
1 small peach with 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese