According to the American Diabetes Association 2015 report, 30 million Americans have diabetes with 1.5 million new cases 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 sugar patients 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 people with diabetes who need to consider factors like glycemic index and glycemic load which indicate 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 10 ideal fruits that can be enjoyed by people with diabetes.
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 diabetes patients.
Plus, apples help prevent heart attacks, reduce the risk of cancer and ward off eye diseases, all of which are an imminent threat for diabetes patients.
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 people with diabetes.
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.
- 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.
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!
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Ms. Jill Weisenberger (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist)
What fruits should be avoided by people with diabetes?
People with diabetes don’t need to avoid any fruit at all. While it’s true that fruit contains sugar, it’s not true that fruit is especially harmful to people with diabetes or prediabetes. In fact, fruit is nutrient-dense and contains a variety of fiber types.
Some fibers lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels; some help in the bathroom, while others feed our gut bacteria. When we eliminate foods, we are more likely to miss out on important nutrients and phytonutrients that are certified health boosters.
Fruits also provide potassium, an under-consumed nutrient which is essential for blood pressure regulation. People with diabetes have at least double the risk of having a heart attack, so cholesterol and blood pressure control are critical and eating fruits will help you in this regard.
What level of blood sugar is considered dangerously high?
Target blood sugar ranges are specific to each person with diabetes and depend on various factors such as age, medications, length of time with diabetes, other health conditions, life expectancy and more.
In general, however, the American Diabetes Association advises one’s target level to be 180 mg/dl or less 1-2 hours after beginning a meal. But again, this is individualized, and sometimes the targets are higher or lower.
Is it ok to eat pineapple and watermelon if you have diabetes?
Yes, these fruits generally have higher glycemic index scores compared to other fruits, but that is not a reason to avoid them. Like any carb-rich food, fruits should be eaten in the context of a health-boosting, nutrient-dense diet within the individual’s carb counting goals.
What are some healthy breakfast options for people with diabetes?
Here are some delicious yet healthy breakfast opyions for people with diabetes:
- Cottage cheese or Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts
- English muffin with peanut butter
- Egg, vegetables and salsa wrapped into a tortilla
In general, healthy foods for people with diabetes are the same as healthful foods for anyone else. The only caveat is that the person with diabetes must control the amount of carbohydrate in each meal and snack.
Can exercise after a meal help lower blood sugar?
Yes, taking a 20-minute walk after eating is typically good for post-meal blood sugar numbers.
How suitable is honey as a sugar alternative for people with diabetes?
A tablespoon of honey actually has more carbohydrates than a tablespoon of sugar. Both should be minimized by all people, including people with diabetes.
What do you give people with low blood sugar for an instant energy boost?
I usually recommended following the rule of 15. Please see this link.
I prefer glucose tabs or glucose gel, but other handy items might be jelly beans, fruit juice, honey or table sugar. It is not for an energy boost, but to raise dangerously low blood sugar levels.
Please provide our readers with some additional dietary tips to help with their diabetes problem.
See a registered dietitian nutritionist who is also a certified diabetes educator to help you create your own best diet. You do not need special foods, but you do need a wholesome diet.
About Jill Weisenberger MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND: Jill is an internationally recognized nutrition and diabetes expert, who has authored four books including the best-selling Diabetes Weight Loss – Week by Week and the new Prediabetes: A Complete Guide.
Jill works as a freelance writer and runs a private practice in Newport News, VA. Besides being a consultant and spokesperson to the food industry, she is also a panelist for the US News & World Report Best Diet Rankings.
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