In today’s blog, we’re going to talk about the best fruits to eat, if you are diabetic and the worst fruits to eat if you are diabetic.
For almost 15 years, we have helped countless people successfully reverse their Type 2 Diabetes and the question of what fruits they can eat always comes up.
So, let’s dive right in.
First thing, how do we measure “good” versus “bad”?
When you ask what fruits a diabetic can eat, the first thing that you notice is that there is a ton of variation in the answers, depending on who you ask. That is because there are different criteria for evaluating the different fruits.
The first question that we need to answer is that of what makes a fruit “good” or “bad” for a person with diabetes. Obviously, it is glucose content or, really, it’s effect on your blood glucose. Remember, when we are talking about “blood sugar”, the sugar that we are talking about is glucose. Glucose is the one that exerts an insulin demand. However, we need to look at how that sugar or glucose is measured. It’s not as simple as how much glucose is in the fruit. It’s also about how or how fast the fruit releases that glucose into the bloodstream.
There are two common measurements that we use for how “good” or “bad” a fruit is:
1. Glycemic Index:
The first one is glycemic index. Glycemic index is a measurement of how fast glucose goes from the point at which it is part of the food that you put in your mouth to the point at which it is floating around in your blood, as in being “blood sugar” or “blood glucose”. It’s basically a scoring system that tells you how fast a particular food makes your blood glucose rise. A high glycemic index food goes from your mouth to your blood glucose very quickly, resulting in a spike in your insulin. A low glycemic index food goes from your mouth to your blood glucose more slowly and gradually, causing just a slow, gradual need for insulin – no spikes. Lower glycemic index foods are also less likely to get you into the “crash, then crave” vicious cycle by preventing the insulin spikes. So, we definitely want fruits with a low glycemic index.
2. Glycemic Load:
Glycemic load is the second part of the story or way of deciding if a fruit is “good” or “bad”. To understand a fruit’s complete effect on blood glucose, we not only need to know how fast it makes glucose enter the bloodstream (glycemic index), but also just how much total glucose the food is delivering per serving. Glycemic load does that. It tells you the total amount of glucose that you are getting from that particular fruit.
Which one is more important?
Well, actually, both. Because of these two ways of measuring, there are different opinions of which fruits are “good” or “bad” for diabetics. Some lists measure fruits solely on glycemic index while others measure solely on glycemic load. The bottom line is that we need to consider both. If we just look at how fast the glucose hits your bloodstream (glycemic index), we might eat a fruit that releases its glucose more slowly, having a lesser impact on your insulin demand, but has a high glucose content (glycemic load), resulting in you eating a lot of glucose. Alternatively, you could eat a high glycemic index fruit and spike your insulin, even though the fruit really didn’t add much to your overall glucose consumption.
Based on that, the best fruits are those that are low in both glycemic index and glycemic load. Here they are:
1. Raspberries. Raspberries have a low glycemic index and low glycemic load. They are also a good source of Vitamin C, fiber, manganese, some B vitamins and potassium.
2. Strawberries. Strawberries also have a low glycemic index and low glycemic load. They’re also full of Vitamin C and antioxidants. They actually have more Vitamin C than an orange. Additionally, they have manganese, magnesium, potassium and folate.
3. Blackberries. Along with having a good GI and GL, like the others, blueberries are rich in Vitamin K, a vitamin that is important in heart health, bone health and blood clotting. They’re also a good source of manganese and Vitamin C.
Now, let’s talk about some of the worst fruits.
1. Fruit juice. Fruit juice is nothing more than fruit that we mash up / liquefy and strain. When we do that, we are keeping all of the sugar, but removing the fiber. The fiber is the part of the food that makes you feel satisfied and want to stop eating. Without the fiber, you can just keep consuming more and more, which is what can happen with fruit juice. Fruit juices typically have the same sugar content as soda and a very high glycemic index, so bad on both counts. Smoothies are similar. You still get the fiber in a smoothie, but it is broken up, so doesn’t have the effect that it should have.
2. Dried fruit. The drying process doesn’t remove anything, in terms of fiber, but it turns the fruit into little snack-size munchies that make you just keep eating. It’s kind of like, as hard as you try, can you really just eat a few potato chips? Of course not. It usually works the same with dried fruit. It makes you want to just keep eating.
3. Canned fruit in syrup. The syrup is typically just liquid sugar. You are not only getting the sugar from the fruit, but the syrup just adds more.
So, what should we do??
Well, the bottom line is that we don’t really need fruit. We are conditioned that we need to “eat our fruits and vegetables”. We are told that fruit has lots of antioxidants and phytochemicals that we need. That’s actually true, but we can get those antioxidants, those phytochemicals from other, less sugar-y sources. Some fruits have as much sugar as a jelly donut. I’m not saying not to eat fruit, but it should be a treat. It’s kind of like birthday cake. It’s great on your birthday, but not something that you should eat every day. It should also be eaten as the whole, raw fruit. When we process fruit, we often concentrate the sugar and remove the fiber. Sometimes, the processing even removes the phytonutrients that we want from the fruit.
Now, I’d like to hear from you! Does any of this information surprise you? Did you know that you don’t need to eat fruit? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
If you enjoyed this blog and would like to hear more, please click below and sign up for our newsletter. We would love to have you join our community!