Like you, I read articles all the time on the Internet such as: “The Top 5 Fruits Diabetic Should Never Eat,” “Can a Diabetic Eat Fruit?” or “Eat Low Carb Fruit. “These headlines are misleading information that annoys diabetes educators. The implication here is –fruit is not good. Fruit is all carbohydrate, so the difference in their carbohydrate content is the amount you eat! If a fruit is dried (reduced in water content), then its carbohydrate is concentrated. For example 17 small grapes equal two tablespoons of raisins.
Fruit is a welcomed part of a healthy diet for anyone, and also a person with diabetes. Fruit provides vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Fruits are all carbohydrate, and tend to have a low GI index because of the fructose and fiber content. Fructose is slower to convert to blood sugar than sucrose, and the fiber in fruit delays digestion even more.
But let’s talk about portions. The Exchange Lists were designed to define a portion of fruit to provide 15 grams of carbohydrate, and about 60 calories. So if you ate 1 cup of cubed cantaloupe or 12 sweet fresh cherries, or ½ cup of mango or ¾ cup of blueberries, you would consume 15 grams of carbohydrate. If you doubled the serving, you would be consuming 30 grams of carbohydrate. Fruit juices are sparingly recommended—1/2 cup of apple juice, or orange juice, and 1/3 cup of grape juice or prune juice is 15 grams of carbohydrate.
The ripeness and variety of a singular piece of fruit may actually be higher or lower in carbohydrate, and thus have a less predictable effect on your blood sugar. If you are fond of certain fruit, consider testing your blood sugar before and after a measured amount to get a personal picture of the glycemic effect.
Lastly, pay attention to the serving sizes, and you will notice that the watery fruit you can have more often than the dense fruit for 15 grams.
So the next time someone tells you that you can’t eat a banana because you are diabetic, remember that all fruit is fine in measured amounts. A banana is two fruit servings, or roughly 30 grams of carbohydrate. Eat a balanced diet, and don’t load up on lots of fruit at one sitting!