Whether you are newly diagnosed or have been battling diabetes and weight issues for years you may have found all kinds of conflicting information about diabetic friendly diets. The most common misconception is that many fruits for diabetes and weight loss are not recommended . Following a diabetes diet does not mean giving up the joy of eating fruits. Let’s see how fruits can be included in our diet for a healthy life.
Benefits of fruits for diabetes and weight loss and healthy life
Fruits are categorized in protecting food groups, contains high amounts of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, essential electrolytes, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. With all these ingredients, fruits are true nutrition powerhouses. Fruit helps to –
- Improves digestion
- Good for gut health
- Repairs tissues
- Good for mental health
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Helps regulate blood pressure
- Reduces cholesterol
- Prevents stroke
- Reduces the risk of many types of cancer
- Reduces the risk of kidney stones
- Give good satiety
- Satisfy sweet craving
The National Institute of Nutrition recommends the intake of 100 grams of fresh fruit for an adult every day. This is the minimum requirement needed to keep the body healthy and disease-free. Scenario among diabetics and obese people seems to be dominated by the opinion to avoid fruits for sugar control and weight gain. (1)
But fruits contain Sugar – The fact check
Sugars come in different forms and their metabolic pathways are different to produce energy in the body. Commonly known sugars are Glucose, Fructose, and Sucrose. Glucose and fructose are the simple sugar whereas sucrose (commonly known as table sugar) is a combination of glucose and fructose.
Most ingested carbohydrates are converted in glucose during digestion and are the body’s main source of fuel.
Fructose is the only type of sugar found in fruits. Fructose is metabolized in the liver; it is converted into glucose before our body can use it for energy. However, it raises blood sugar levels more gradually than glucose and does not immediately impact on insulin levels. Along with fructose, fruits have a good amount of fiber in them. This is the reason why they don’t cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels and can be safely included in diabetic and weight loss diets.
On the contrary, the table sugar and added sugars in processed foods, doughnuts, biscuits and chocolates are very harmful to diabetics and obese people. The combination of fructose and glucose together releases more amounts of sugars in the bloodstream and also stimulates the release of insulin.
The biggest research conducted in China consisting of 500,000 people over 7 years, it was found that consumption of fruit decreased the chances of diabetes complications especially of the small blood vessels, and increased the life expectancy.
Carbohydrates are essential for everyone for energy. People who are trying to restrict their carbohydrate or sugar intake should choose the source of carbohydrate mindfully. One needs to cut down on all the empty calorie sources which are not healthy. Yes, I mean all the ultra-processed and packaged foods which are devoid of nutrition no matter whatever companies mentioned in the front of the packet.
A diet which contains 25-35 grams of dietary fiber a day is essential for good health, diabetes as well as weight loss. Fiber helps to slow down the absorption of all sugars. Fruits are rich sources of dietary fiber. So, instead of relying on packaged breakfast cereal, Marie biscuits, instant pasta, and noodles please opt for healthy fruits. (2, 3, 4, 5)
What about the glycemic index and glycemic load?
When you are in doubt to have or not have fruits in diabetes and weight loss – consider checking the glycemic index and glycemic load of the fruits as well as the food you may not think twice before eating.
The Glycemic Index (GI) gives you an idea of how fast a particular food gets digested, absorbed in the body and affects your blood glucose levels. Lower the value (55 or less) is better for the health indicating slow digestion and absorption of the food with a steady rise in blood sugar level instead of a sudden spike. The gradations of GI –
- Low: 55 or below
- Moderate: 56 to 69
- High: 70 and above
Glycemic load (GL) consider the number of carbohydrates as well as the GI in a serving of food. Again lower the number (10 or less) is better for diabetes. The gradations of GL –
- Low: 0 to 10
- Moderate: 11 to 19
- High: 20 and above
When you are in doubt for fruit consumption check the table below –
|Food|| Glycemic Index |
(glucose = 100)
| Serving |
| Glycemic load |
|Musk melon||65||1 cup||5.3|
|Water melon||76||1 cup||8|
|Common Favorite Foods|
|Popcorn (air fried plain)||72||2 cups||5.6|
|Potato chips (average)||51||50||12|
|Coca Cola||63||250 ml||16|
|Fanta/ orange soft drink||68||250 ml||23|
|Table sugar||68||2 tsp||7|
| Pizza, plain baked |
dough, served with
and tomato sauce
How much fruit is safe for diabetes and weight loss?
Ideally, for people with diabetes or weight issues, two fruits per day are safe to be consumed. You can choose one citrus and one fruit from any other group. Fruits like Bananas, pineapple, and mangoes which are high in carbohydrates and can instantly raise blood sugar level can be taken in moderation, weekly twice.
Be mindful with your serving size, per day 100-125 grams of fruits can be taken without any guilt. As said one size does not fit for all.If you are someone with higher fluctuations you need to control portions and consult your physician or dietitian for an expert opinion.
Best time to have fruits
Fruits are best absorbed by your body when you take them on empty stomach early in the morning or in between two meals.
Consuming fruit along with meals delay their digestion and absorption process and begins to ferment. This fermented foods, in turn, leads to acidity, indigestion and gut inflammation. Tea and coffee have substances like tannins and caffeine that hinder the absorption of nutrients present in the fruit. There should be a minimum of 30 minutes of the gap between your meals/ tea /coffee and fruit.
You can include fruits like bananas and mangoes for pre or post work out snacks.
Do not club your citrus fruits with milk as it gets curdled up in the gut causing bloating and acidity.
Types of fruits
Fruits are ripened ovary or ovaries of a plant and adjacent tissues. They are produced from the flower. Fruits are fleshy and pulpy with aromatic flavors. Fruits are divided into groups depending upon the shape, cell structure, and type of seed or natural habitat. Fruits can be classified as-
|Berries are rich in vitamin C, K, B1 and dietary |
fiber. Anti oxidant polyphenols are good for heart
and brain health. Boost Immunity and energy levels.
Keeps skin healthy and glowing. Fights against
cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
|Drupes||Green grapes, |
| Rich in potassium, anti oxidants, vitamin C & fiber. |
Strengthen bones.Reduce the risk of cancer.
Best to satisfy sweet cravings.Helps in
treating asthma and kidney disease.
|Citrus fruits|| Sweet limes, |
| Immunity boosters. Rich in vitamin C, antioxidants |
& anti inflammatory compounds. Helps to recover
during illness like fever and weakness.
| Contain 90% Water. Maintains blood pressure. |
Have powerful anti oxidant called Lycopene
Rich in vitamin C and Copper. Aids in collagen
production and tissue repair. Keeps skin healthy
|Pomes|| Apple |
| Rich in dietary fiber, anti oxidants and phytonutriens. |
Reduce the risk of cancer, hypertension, diabetes
and improve neurological health.
| Tropical and |
| Avocado, |
|Rich in potassium which promotes heart health |
and regulates blood pressure. Antioxidants like
flavonoids etc decrease the risk of heart disease.
Contain pectin, a viscous dietary
fiber improves gut health
Fruit juices or whole fruit?
Consider having whole fruit any day. Fruit juices are excluded with fiber and do not have to go much processing before it hits your bloodstream. Packaged milkshakes and fruit juices have loads of added sugars and calories. Instead of being beneficial they cause more harm to your body. So, have whole fresh fruit to get the maximum benefits.
Can one have dry fruits in diabetes or weight loss?
Dry fruits – dates, apricot, raisins, figs, etc are considered as dry fruits. These are energy and nutrient-dense healthy options if eaten in moderation. 2-3 dates/apricot/figs 3 times a week make no harm for most of the cases. Having 5-6 raisins soaked overnight can be taken to start the day.
How about fancy, imported and exotic fruits?
People are going gaga over avocados, peaches, and kiwis. Even though they are very expensive people do not think twice before buying them. Instead of going crazy about such fancy fruits try to include locally grown seasonal fruits. Yes, they are equally good even better in every aspect. They will have all the antioxidants and nutrients in peak potential and help you to gain immunity against local infections. All the imported fruits are plucked before ripening as they take a long time to be transported. They will be artificially ripened and introduced in markets. So why to spend our hard-earned money on such fancy things to buy additional problems?
Fruits are good; can I replace all my meals with fruits?
Forget about replacing all the meals, fruits cannot be considered as a meal at all. Fruits are good snacks option or as a part of a balanced wholesome meal. Too much fructose sugar from fruits turns into triglycerides in the liver and gets stored in fat cells. This, in turn, leads to belly fat and type 2 diabetes. Replacing your meal with fruit will also cause macronutrient deficiencies in the long run.
Managing Diabetes and weight issues need a clean diet and physical exercise. Include fruits in your diet in guilt-free.
Avoid refined sugars, processed foods, bakery foods, high salt foods for having a healthy life. Fruits, on the other hand, are a healthy source of carbohydrates which along with fiber will help to keep the blood glucose level in control. Refined sugars can increase blood sugar levels and lead to diabetes complications, but natural sugars contained in fruits do not increase blood sugar levels as they come along with water, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants which help in regulating blood sugar levels. So, fruit for diabetes and weight loss is safe and effective while taken in moderation.