According to the American Diabetes Association 2015 report, 30 million Americans have diabetics with 1.5 million new diabetes cases being added to the list every year.
Diabetes causes high blood sugar (glucose) levels due to lack of insulin production or function. It is mainly classified as either Type 1, in which the body fails to produce insulin, or Type 2, in which the body is not able to properly use the insulin it produces.
It is essential to control diabetes because it can lead to a host of health complications, including kidney failure, nerve damage, blindness, heart attack, stroke, poor blood circulation, hearing loss, and many more.
A healthy lifestyle that includes a proper diet, exercise, proper sleep, less stress, and so on plays a major role in controlling blood glucose levels. A diabetes diet plan should include foods that are high in nutrients, low in fat, moderate in calories, and low in sugar.
As fruits are generally sweet, people often think that a diabetic person should avoid eating them. However, there are several fruits that are particularly effective at managing blood sugar. Packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, fruits are a healthy addition to any diet.
Some fruits are better than others for diabetics. Moreover, diabetics also need to consider factors like glycemic index and glycemic load as they offer information on how different foods affect blood sugar and insulin levels.
Low glycemic index foods are believed to have a beneficial effect on blood glucose control as they do not significantly impact blood sugar levels. Usually, foods with a glycemic index score of 55 and below are classified as low glycemic index foods. Those with a glycemic index score of 70 and above are considered high-glycemic-index foods.
Best Fruits for Controlling Diabetes
Here are the top 10 fruits for diabetics.
The crunchy, juicy, and sweet apples may offer protection against diabetes. Apples are high in soluble fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. They also contain pectin that helps detoxify the body and remove harmful waste products as well as lowers the insulin requirements of diabetics.
Plus, apples help prevent heart attacks, reduce the risk of cancer and ward off eye diseases among diabetic people.
Glycemic index: ranges from 30 to 50
Suggested serving size: One small to medium-sized apple daily is recommended.
Cherries have one of the lowest ratings of any fruit on the glycemic index at 22. On top of that, cherries are replete with antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate.
Plus, cherries contain anthocyanins that are known to help lower blood sugar by increasing insulin production by up to 50 percent. They also help fight heart disease, cancer and other diseases that are common among diabetic people.
Suggested serving size: Cherries can be eaten fresh, canned, frozen or dried. One-half cup of cherries a day is a good option.
3. Black Plums
Black plums, also known as jambul or jamun, can help a lot in controlling blood sugar. The presence of anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and hydrolysable tannins in black plums makes this fruit extremely beneficial for people with diabetes.
The fruit helps control the conversion of carbohydrates into blood sugar. The excessive thirst and frequent urination problems common among people with diabetes can also be controlled by this fruit. Along with the fruit, the leaves, berry, and seeds of the black plum tree can be used to control blood sugar level.
Suggested serving size: One-half cup of black plums daily is recommended, when the fruit is available in the market. You can also make a powder of dried seeds and eat 1 teaspoon of the powder followed by water twice a day.
Guava has a high concentration of lycopene, a high amount of dietary fiber, and a good amount of vitamin C and potassium. All these nutrients are helpful in maintaining the blood sugar level.
Those who are at a risk of developing diabetes can help prevent it by drinking guava leaf tea.
- Dry the guava leaves and crush them.
- Boil one tablespoon of crushed guava leaves in hot water.
- Let it steep for five minutes, and then strain it.
- Drink this tea once daily.
Suggested serving size: Eat one whole or sliced guava without the peel daily. Alternatively, you can drink a small glass of guava juice.
Grapefruit is one of the American Diabetes Association’s recommended superfoods for diabetics as it is high in soluble fiber and vitamin C while figuring low in the glycemic index at 25.
Plus, grapefruit contains the flavonoid known as naringenin that increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin and also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which is an important factor in preventing and controlling diabetes.
Suggested serving size: Half of a large grapefruit (about three-quarters of a cup) daily will help manage your blood sugar level. Eating the fruit, rather than drinking the juice, provides the most benefits related to diabetes.
Because of its high fiber and healthy monounsaturated fat content, avocado helps steady your blood sugar levels. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, monounsaturated fats are conducive to cardiovascular health in type 2 diabetics as these healthy fats improve the cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as adequately maintain glycemic control.
That said, it is important to bear in mind that only a select quantity of avocado must be included in your diet to capitalize on its anti-diabetic and anti-obesity effects, as is the case with any other natural components or food function. Diabetic people are at an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Plus, avocado contains a good amount of potassium, a mineral that helps prevent diabetic neuropathy.
Suggested serving size: One medium-sized avocado daily is good for diabetics. You can include avocados in salads and sandwiches, or make a salad dressing by pureeing it with a little lemon juice, garlic and olive oil.
Strawberries are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber that can help control your blood sugar level. In fact, the antioxidants in strawberries help lower the risk of heart disease by reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol, maintaining or improving HDL (good) cholesterol, and lowering blood pressure.
Plus, strawberries are low in carbohydrates and have a low glycemic index at 40. When you eat strawberries, they help you to feel full for longer, keep your blood sugar level steady and increase your energy level.
Suggested serving size: Three-quarters of a cup of strawberries daily is considered good for diabetic people.
You can add fresh strawberries to cereals or salads, eat them as a healthy snack and use them to make low-sugar desserts.
Oranges are one of the healthiest fruits that can be included in a regular diet for diabetes. Oranges are not very high in natural sugar and contain high amounts of fiber, vitamin C, and other minerals like thiamin that help manage blood sugar levels.
Plus, oranges are also categorized as a low glycemic index food that helps to slowly release glucose into the blood. Also, oranges can help control or reduce weight, one of the risk factors for diabetes.
Glycemic index: ranges from 31 to 51
Suggested serving size: A small orange a day can help keep your diabetes and blood sugar level under control.
Devoid of its fiber content, orange juice is not an adequate substitute for a whole orange and is unlikely to offer the same benefits.
Pears are rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and E and fiber, which help regulate blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, and improve digestive health. Plus, pears are low in carbohydrates and calories, and have a rating of 38 on the glycemic index.
Pears are particularly beneficial for people who have Type 2 diabetes because they help improve insulin sensitivity.
Suggested serving size: When craving something sweet, diabetics can eat a small- or medium-sized pear. You can enjoy a pear for dessert or as a sweet snack.
A positive correlation has been found between kiwi consumption and lowering blood sugar levels. Kiwi contains vitamins C, E, and A; flavonoids; potassium; and high amounts of beta-carotene that offer protection from free radicals and thereby improve overall health.
Plus, kiwi is high in fiber and low in carbohydrates, which aids in controlling blood sugar levels and lowering cholesterol.
Glycemic index: ranges from 47 to 58
Suggested serving size: Eating one kiwi daily will help control blood glucose levels and provide a healthy alternative to snacking on high-fat or high-sugar foods.
Eat these fruits in moderation to manage your blood sugar level as well as to satisfy your sweet tooth!
- Statistics About Diabetes. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/. Published March 22, 2018.
- What is Diabetes? National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes. Published November 1, 2016.
- Diabetes complications. International Diabetes Federation. https://www.idf.org/aboutdiabetes/what-is-diabetes/complications.html.
- Fruit and diabetes. Diabetes UK. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/eating-with-diabetes/food-groups/fruit-and-diabetes.
- Glycemic Index and Diabetes. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/glycemic-index-and-diabetes.html. Published May 14, 2014.
- Boyer J, Liu RH. Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutrition Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC442131/. Published May 12, 2014.
- Glycemic index for 60 foods. Harvard Health Publishing . https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load-for-100-foods. Published February 2015.
- Powell KF-, Holt SHA, Miller JCB-. International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. Oxford University Press Sign In Register The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/76/1/5/4689459. Published July 1, 2002.
- Basic Report: 09063, Cherries, sour, red, raw . USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2177. Published April 2018.
- Kelley DS, Adkins Y, Laugero KD. A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries. Nutrients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5872786/. Published March 17, 2018.
- Mahindrakar K. Antidiabetic and Hypoglycemic Effects of Syzygium cumini (Black Plum. Bioactive Food as Dietary Interventions for Diabetes. http://www.academia.edu/11625767/Antidiabetic_and_Hypoglycemic_Effects_of_Syzygium_cumini_Black_Plum. Published 2013.
- Basic Report: 09003, Apples, raw, with skin (Includes foods for USDA’s Food Distribution Program). USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/09003. Published April 2018.
- Deguchi Y, Miyazaki K. Anti-hyperglycemic and anti-hyperlipidemic effects of guava leaf extract. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831039/. Published February 2, 2010.
- Basic Report: 09112, Grapefruit, raw, pink and red, all areas . USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/09112. Published April 2018.
- Fujioka K, Greenway F, Sheard J, Ying Y. The effects of grapefruit on weight and insulin resistance: relationship to the metabolic syndrome. Journal of Medicinal Food. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16579728. Published 2006.
- Choose Healthy Fats. Eat Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/choose-healthy-fats. Published March 6, 2017.
- Devalaraja S, Jain S, Yadav H. Exotic Fruits as Therapeutic Complements for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome. Food Research International. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3156450/. Published August 1, 2011.
- Pinto Mda S, Carvalho JEde, Shetty K. Evaluation of Antiproliferative, Anti-Type 2 Diabetes, and Antihypertension Potentials of Ellagitannins from Strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) Using In Vitro Models. Journal of Medicinal Food. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jmf.2009.0257. Published October 1, 2010.
- Basic Report: 09203, Oranges, raw, Florida . USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/09203. Published April 2018.
- Basic Report: 09252, Pears, raw . USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/09252. Published April 2018.
- Reiland H, Slavin J. Systematic Review of Pears and Health. Nutrition Today. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657810/. Published November 23, 2015.
- Basic Report: 09148, Kiwifruit, green, raw . USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/09148. Published April 2018.
- Kiwifruit and Health Benefits – Zespri Kiwifruit. Kiwifruit Symposium. http://www.kiwifruitsymposium.org/2016/04/12/health-benefits-of-zespri-kiwifruit/. Published June 27, 2016.