Most of us are lucky enough not to have to think twice when reaching for a piece of fruit, but if you are a diabetic you may avoid eating fruit in the belief that the natural sugars that occur in fruit will cause a a spike in blood sugar levels. Yes,eating too much fruit can cause blood sugar levels to spike, but there really is no need for diabetics to omit fruit from their diet as long as they carefully monitor the amount they eat.
Fruit is packed full of vitamins and minerals that are essential for maintaining good health, it is high in fibre which is essential for a healthy digestive system and it also helps to lower cholesterol. The American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetics include fruit as part of their diet although they do advise portion control to regulate carbohydrate intake. Diabetics can include most fruit in their diet, but one portion should not exceed 15gr of carbohydrates. As some fruits are lower in carbohydrates than others, to get the best out of their fruit intake diabetics should choose what fruit they eat carefully.
Here are a few low carbohydrate fresh fruits that are recommended by Michigan State University that diabetics should include in there diets:
Citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C, which is vital for a healthy immune system and for allowing the body to heal cuts and injuries. They are also high in fibre which keeps the digestive system ticking over nicely. Eating citrus fruit is better than drinking the juice as whole fruit contains more fibre and is lower in sugar than fruit juice. The recommended portions of citrus fruits for diabetics are:
- One medium sized orange, nectarine or clementine contains roughly 15gr of carbohydrates.
- One medium sized tangerine contains roughly 12gr of carbohydrates.
- Half of a medium sized grapefruit contains approximately 10 ½gr of carbohydrates.
Berries are packed full of essential health boosting antioxidants. Vitamins A, C and E are all antioxidants. They help protect us from nasty diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease as well as helping us to maintain healthy brain function. Antioxidants also help to minimise the damage caused by the sun, smoking, alcohol and everyday pollution. You can boost your berry intake by adding them to your breakfast cereal or a natural yoghurt. The recommended portion size of berries for diabetics is:
- 115gr of sliced strawberries, blackberries, cranberries or raspberries contain between 6 ½ – 7 ½gr of carbohydrates.
- 115gr of blueberries contains approximately 11 grammes of carbohydrates.
Melons are a good source of antioxidants and minerals that are good for boosting the immune system and protecting us from nasty diseases. Eating melon regularly can help to promote healthy skin and to boost energy. Cold melon can be blitzed in a liquidizer to make a refreshing drink on a hot summers day.
- 115gr of watermelon, cantaloupe and casaba melon will provide roughly between 5 ½ – 6 ½gr of carbohydrates.
- 115gr of honeydew melon contains approximately 8gr of carbohydrates.
Cherries are high in antioxidants and are excellent for reducing inflammation in the body, making them ideal for people who suffer from arthritis or gout. One portion of 115gr will provide 11gr of carbohydrates. Other fruits that are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals and that should be included as part of a healthy balanced diet are:
- Avocados are high in vitamin A and are a great source of mono-saturated fats, which help to lower cholesterol. 115gr of avocado contains 6 ½ gr of carbohydrates. Avocados can be sliced and added to salads or mashed with a little lemon juice and black pepper to make a dip.
- Plums are a good source of antioxidants, which help to support the immune system and help to minimise damage to our body caused by too much sun exposure, alcohol, smoking and everyday pollutants. One medium sized plum contains roughly 7 ½gr of carbohydrates.
- Nectarines and peaches are rich in vitamin A and C and potassium. Potassium helps to keep blood pressure low, regulates heartbeat and also helps to prevent muscle cramps. One medium peach or nectarine contains between 14 ½gr and 15gr of carbohydrates. A ripe nectarine or peach should have slight give when held in the palm of the hand and gently pressed. Harder nectarines and peaches will ripen in a few days, so are ideal if you do not plan on eating them right away.
- Kiwi fruit are an underrated fruit, they actually contain more vitamin C, weight for weight, than an orange and are high in fibre. One medium sized kiwi fruit provides 11gr of carbohydrates.
- Mangoes contain vitamin A, C and K as well as calcium and potassium. 115gr of mango contains 14gr of carbohydrates.
- Apples are high in vitamin C, antioxidants and fibre. One small to medium sized apple contains roughly 15gr of carbohydrates. Apples help to maintain a strong respiratory system, keeping heart and lungs healthy.
As you can see there is no reason why diabetics have to avoid eating fruit. Dried or tinned fruits should are best avoided by diabetics as dried fruits contain more concentrated natural sugar than fresh fruit and tinned fruit is often canned in sugar syrup.