It’s almost summer and that means so many fruits are going to be in season. Even if you don’t enjoy fruit during the winter months, it becomes tempting to eat lots of fruit in the summer. For people with diabetes, this can be a problem. Fruit is a carbohydrate and has natural sugar, fructose that raises glucose. Before sweating the carbs, here are some strategies to enjoy fruit and include it in your meal plan.
Pick the Right Types of Fruit
All whole fruit is a healthy choice. Fruit provides vitamins, minerals, fiber, and it’s naturally low in fat, calories, and sodium. When in season, fresh fruit usually contains the most nutrients. Frozen, canned, or dried fruits can also be healthy choices, but it’s important to read labels and know that nutrient content may not be the same as fresh fruit. When looking for frozen fruit, choose unsweetened varieties. Canned fruit should be unsweetened or in its own juice. Avoid fruit canned with light or heavy syrup. Look for dried fruit without added sugar. It’s best to eat a variety of fruits. Think about including fruits that are different colors. Fiber content of fruit does vary so include some fruits higher in fiber such as berries, apples, oranges, pears, and peaches. Blueberries have the added bonus of being one of the highest antioxidant foods.
Know How Much Fruit to Eat
Fruit should be an everyday food for people with diabetes. I usually encourage 2 servings of whole fruit per day. You may need more according to your meal plan, but 2 servings is a good starting point if you aren’t sure. A serving of fruit for people with diabetes, also referred to as 1 fruit choice, is equal to 15 grams of carb.
Pay Attention to Portion Size
Fresh fruit usually doesn’t have a food label, so it’s important to know the serving size and how many carbs you are eating. In general 1 serving of fruit is one small piece of fresh fruit, ½ cup canned or frozen fruit, 4 oz. fruit juice, or 2 tablespoons dried fruit. People with diabetes may need to measure or weigh fruit to help control glucose.
|Fruit||Serving that equals 15 grams of carb|
|Apple||1 small apple (4 oz.)|
|Banana||1 extra small (4 oz.)|
|Cherries||12 sweet fresh cherries (3½ oz.)|
|Dates||3 small (deglet noor) or 1 large (medjool) date|
|Grapefruit||½ large grapefruit (5½ oz.)|
|Grapes||17 small grapes (3 oz.)|
|Honeydew melon||1 cup diced|
|Mango||½ small mango (5½ oz.)|
|Orange||1 medium orange (6½ oz.)|
|Papaya||½ papaya (8 oz.) or 1 cup cubed|
|Peach||1 medium peach (6 oz.)|
|Pear||½ large pear (4 oz.)|
|Plantain, ripe, raw||¼ plantain (2¼ oz.)|
|Plum||2 small plums (5 oz.)|
|Pomegranate seeds||½ cup|
|Strawberries||1¼ cups whole berries|
|Watermelon||1¼ cup diced|
- The weight of the fruit includes the skin, core, and seeds.
Source: Choose Your Foods: Food List for Diabetes. 2014. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics/American Diabetes Association.
Find a Food to Pair with Fruit
I encourage people with diabetes to eat fruit with a small amount of protein or healthy fat. Fat and protein help to stabilize glucose. Think about some of these additions when eating fruit for a snack: nuts, seeds, cottage cheese, cheese, yogurt, hardboiled egg, or nut spreads (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, soy nut butter). These combinations should help you to feel more satisfied and help control the rise in glucose after eating carbs.
Fruit is a healthy food that people with diabetes can eat every day. Enjoy a variety of fresh fruit this summer.