“I had a mango yesterday night”, he said suggesting the possible cause for the raised Fasting Blood Sugar (FBS) level.
“I usually do not have fruits, but yesterday I had to” he continued as if he had committed a grave mistake.
When I told him, “You know something? Diabetics are NOT restricted from eating fruits”, he looked surprised and the look on his face was a familiar one. He wanted to know more on whether he could eat fruits. The poor man had been a diabetic for the past 5 years and he has been restricting himself from all kinds of fruits. I had to spent 10 minutes explaining the conditions to be followed if a diabetic person wants to eat fruits.
MUST READ –> What is Diabetes?
The restriction of fruits for diabetics has been one of the leading frequently asked questions in all Diabetes clinics. It is one of the biggest myths regarding Diabetes that has become so popular that people take it for granted. I have read many articles on this topic and I have summarised all that you need to know in this article, before having your apple pie!
Why eat Fruits?
Fruits are actually a rich source of many essential vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and fibres. Fresh fruit servings as dessert and as salads are healthy eating habits for all persons including those suffering from diabetes.
Fruits are an integral component of a healthy balanced diet.
MUST READ –> Health benefits of Kiwi fruit
Choice of Fruits in Diabetes
Many persons suffering from diabetes think that only certain fruits can be safely consumed. To an extent, it is right, but not entirely. There are two things that everyone should know about fruits and sugars. The first part is regarding the type of sugar contained in fruits and the second is about something called the “glycemic index”.
Unlike Glucose which is the main sugar which we use for our energy, most fruits contain Fructose which is another type of naturally occurring sugar.
What is the advantage of Fructose over Glucose in Diabetics? That must be your next question. The important thing to understand is that Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar and is the most sweetest of the naturally occurring sugars. Fructose is often used as a sweetener and is preferred in Diabetics as lower quantities of fructose is necessary to achieve sweetness. Fructose doesn’t increase the blood sugar level or cause a rapid surge of insulin in our blood as compared to glucose. All these facts makes fructose and thus fruits safe in diabetics.
Glycemic Index of a diet is a property by which the rate at which the diet is burnt down in our body to energy (glucose). A high GI diet includes food items which are very rapidly digested and metabolised to release glucose. A low GI diet on the other hand is broken down slowly into gluoce. In Diabetes, fruits with low GI are preferred. Low GI fruits when consumed do not cause a rapid rise in the blood glucose level as they are metabolised very slowly.
Low GI fruits are : kiwi fruit, plums, berries, grapefruit
High Gi fruits are : banana, mango, orange, dates, pears etc
You can have fruit servings even if you are diabetic, provided you follow the below conditions strictly. So If you are ready, here we go.
#1 Fruits in addition to the above mentioned vitamins and minerals are rich sources of Carbohydrates and therefore you should count them as part of your meal and not as interval snacks. Reduce the quantity of your regular meal in proportion to the quantity of fruits added to the meal. Don’t make a practise of eating fruits after a sumptuous heavy meal. It is safe to eat fruits as long as they are not taken in excess. NHS advises to eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables every day, even for diabetics!
#2 Prefer eating fresh whole fruits rather than preserved dried dry fruits with added sugar. Fresh fruits which are available in frozen form are also advisable, but should be consumed in half the quantity as compared to fresh fruits.
#3 Don’t make fruit juices by adding surplus of sugar. Plane fresh fruit juices without adding sugar is the way to go if you prefer juices.
#4 Be careful while eating dried fruits like raisins cherries. A tablespoon full of such dried fruits contains up to 7 grams of carbohydrates.
#5 Raw and partially ripe fruits are preferable in diabetic patients compared to the fully ripe ones. Makes sense, isn’t it?
If you can keep these 5 tips in your mind and follow them when you see fruits, you have my permission to eat fruits even if you are diabetic. Hope you are happy now. If you have any more questions, do post it in the comments below.
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Image Credit – peddhapatti