Fruit: Bringing a Little Sweetness into Your Diabetes Diet
Fresh fruit is full of antioxidants and vitamins. It is a wholesome on-the-go food, a good source of naturally occurring fiber, and a very healthy option for everyone, especially for people with diabetes.
Many people falsely believe that having diabetes means that they must avoid fruit. Not true! While fruit does contain sugar, it should be counted just as any other carbohydrates in the diet, and even prioritized over refined carbohydrates because of all the healthful nutrients it provides.
One slice of white bread contains about 15 grams of carbohydrates, the same as a whole orange. The major difference is that the orange will fill you up with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants that the white bread lacks. You can get a lot more satisfaction out of eating whole lower-carbohydrate fruits than smaller portions of processed foods.
Cantaloupe, Kiwi, Plums, and More: Benefits of Fruit
The more vibrant the fruit, the more vitamins and antioxidants it offers. For instance, bright orange cantaloupe is an excellent source of vitamin A, which is great for your eyes.
Kiwi, strawberries, and mangoes offer loads of vitamin C, which strengthens your immune system.
The eye-popping purple of plums load you up with a powerful antioxidant called phenol which helps neutralize cancer-causing free radicals in the body.
How Much Fruit Should You Eat?
The American Diabetes Association recommends eating 2-4 servings of fruit a day.1 To hit that target, try to eat one serving of fruit at every meal. Consider eating a bowl of strawberries as dessert, or toss some fresh blueberries into your cup of plain yogurt for added sweetness and fiber.
Your serving of fruit should contain about 15 grams of carbohydrates. That means that you can eat a bigger serving of some fruits than others. For instance, a whole cup of raspberries or melon, a medium orange, 2/3 cup of blueberries, 1 1/4 cup of strawberries, or 1/2 of a large banana each have around 15 grams of carbohydrates.
Managing diabetes should not keep you from eating your favorite fruit, just make sure you know how much of it you can eat at a time.
Fruit juice is more concentrated (higher in carbohydrates) than whole fruit, so the serving size is much smaller. One half cup of 100% fruit juice counts as a serving of fruit. Beware when you drink fruit juice that it is usually higher in calories than a whole piece of fruit and not as filling.
In general, you will feel more satisfied if you eat your calories rather than drink them. To make your 100% fruit juice go further, dilute it with a little water or mix it with some unflavored seltzer water for a special treat.
Special Considerations for People with Diabetes
To make sure you're hitting the recommended 2-4 servings of fruit each day while still keeping carbohydrates in check, focus on eating lower carbohydrate fruits. Unfortunately, fresh produce does not come with nutrition labels to check the amount of carbohydrates. A good place to find this information is in the USDA Nutrient Database Laboratory. Just enter the food you want to eat, designate the serving size, and find the total carbohydrates, fiber, and all the other nutrients that interest you.
Fruit is a healthy, delicious way to fill up on vitamins and antioxidants, especially when you have diabetes. As long as you keep track of the carbs in the fruit, you’ll be all set to enjoy a great treat!