When you’re looking for a diabetes-friendly treat that can help keep your blood sugar within a healthy range, look no farther than the produce drawer of your refrigerator or the fruit basket on your kitchen table.
Believe it or not, the notion that fruit is not safe when you need to watch your A1C is a popular diabetes myth that has been debunked again and again. Indeed, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), many types of fruit are loaded with good-for-you vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber — a powerful nutrient that can help regulate blood sugar levels and decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Fiber — which can also be found in some of the best vegetables for diabetes, and in whole grains — can further benefit your health by promoting feelings of fullness and curbing cravings and overeating, research shows. Healthy weight maintenance can increase your insulin sensitivity and help in your diabetes management.
So, how do you pick the best fruits for diabetes? While some forms of fruit, like juice, can be bad for diabetes, whole fruits like berries, citrus, apricots, and yes, even apples — can be good for your A1C and overall health, fighting inflammation, normalizing your blood pressure, and more.
But as with any food in your diabetes diet, you have to be smart about counting carbohydrates and tracking what you eat. Portion size is key.
Consume fruit in its whole, natural form, and avoid syrups or any processed fruits with added sugar, which have the tendency to spike your blood sugar. Stick to the produce aisle and the freezer section of your grocery store. If you’re using the glycemic index (GI) or glycemic load — measures of how foods affect your blood sugar levels — to make dietary decisions, most whole fruits are a good choice because they tend to lie low on these rankings.
When you have diabetes, these steps will help you keep your blood sugar within a healthy range, thereby lowering your risk of certain diabetes complications, including neuropathy (nerve damage), kidney disease, eyesight issues like glaucoma, cataracts, or diabetic retinopathy, and life-threatening illnesses like heart disease and stroke.
The next time you have a hankering for something sweet, consider reaching for one of the following naturally sweet and juicy treats, courtesy of Mother Nature — you can whip it into a diabetes-friendly smoothie or keep it simple and throw it into your bag to munch on while you’re on the go.