Many people mistakenly believe that diabetics should avoid eating fruit. To the contrary, fruit provides important vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals that are important to the health of everyone, including diabetics. Diabetics must be very careful about the fruits they eat. In particular, diabetics need to know the ratings of the fruits they choose on the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measure of how fast foods containing carbohydrates are converted to blood glucose. A glycemic index rating below 50 is optimal for diabetics. Here are ten of the best fruits for diabetics to eat to help control blood sugar.
Apples are high in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. Apples also contain pectin which is found in the peel and pulp. Pectin helps to detoxify the body, removing harmful waste products. Pectin also contains galacturonic acid which has been proven to lower the insulin requirements of diabetics by up to 35%. Apples are low on the glycemic index, with a rating of 38.
Grapefruit is high in soluble fiber and vitamin C. With a rating of 25, it is low on the glycemic index. Grapefruit contains the flavonoid naringenin which aids in balancing insulin and glucose levels in the blood. Studies have shown that eating one to two servings of grapefruit a day reduces the risk of developing Type II diabetes later in life.
All varieties of berries are nutritional powerhouses. They are high in fiber, vitamin C, folic acid and phytochemicals. Berries are the lowest carbohydrate fruit and lower on the glycemic index than all other fruits. Berries reduce the digestion and absorption of sucrose helping to control blood sugar levels.
Oranges have a rating of 48 on the glycemic index. The high fiber and vitamin C content of oranges helps control blood sugar levels. Oranges, like all citrus fruits, contain naringenin which aids in balancing insulin and glucose levels in the blood. Oranges are low in fat and can help in weight management. Being overweight is one of the risk factors for diabetes.
Cherries have one of the lowest ratings on the glycemic index of any fruit at 22. Cherries contain antioxidants, beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate. Cherries also contain anthocyanins, the naturally occurring chemicals that are responsible for the deep red color of the fruit. Anthocyanins help lower blood sugar levels by increasing insulin production by up to 50%.
Pears are high in fiber, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, folic acid, niacin, copper, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium. Pears have a rating of 38 on the glycemic index. Chinese pears have the most medicinal properties, but all pears help diabetics improve blood sugar levels. Pears help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, boost the immune system, and have antioxidant properties.
Kiwi fruits are the unsung superfruit. They help prevent asthma, obesity, colon cancer, heart disease and protect our DNA from mutations. Kiwi fruit contain vitamin C, E and A, flavonoids and numerous minerals. In fact, kiwi fruit contain more vitamin C than oranges, as much potassium as bananas and high amounts of beta carotene. The vitamins in kiwi fruit offer protection from free radicals improving overall health. Kiwi fruit is high in fiber which aids in controlling blood sugar levels and lowering cholesterol.
Prunes, with a glycemic index rating of 29, vitamin A, fiber, potassium, copper and antioxidants is a great choice for diabetics. The soluble fiber in prunes help normalize blood sugar levels. It does this by slowing the rate digested food leaves the stomach, thereby delaying the absorption of glucose. Prunes also help with weight loss by promoting a sense of fullness by allowing food to remain in the stomach longer, helping to prevent overeating.
Eating the mighty mango may be akin to taking diabetes drugs. A 2005 study by the Australian Health and Medical Research Congress in Melbourne found that components of mangoes operate similar to certain diabetes drugs. They do this by targeting the same pathways the drugs target.
Indigenous to India, jambul fruit are not readily known or available in the U.S. Jambul fruit help to control the conversion of carbohydrates in the pancreas into blood sugar. The bark, leaves and flowers of the jambul plant can also be used to manage blood sugar levels. The excessive thirst and frequent urination suffered by many diabetics can be controlled by jambul fruit. Its seeds contain glucoside, jamboline and ellagic acid which reduces the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar.
American Diabetes Association
Andrew Weil MD