‘I'm an Endocrinologist, and This Is the #1 Type of Fruit (Yes, Fruit) I Recommend to Everyone With Diabetes'

Variety of fruit

Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetesas 38.4 million Americans have been—can feel overwhelming and confusing. Suddenly, you have new diet rules you have to follow in order to keep your health condition under control.

Knowing the rules regarding fruit can be particularly difficult to figure out. On the one hand, people with type 2 diabetes are told to avoid foods high in sugar. On the other hand, fruit is a source of many important nutrients. To clear up the confusion, an endocrinologist shares what he wants everyone with diabetes to know about fruit, including the one type he recommends everyone who has been diagnosed with diabetes eat regularly.

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What People With Diabetes Need To Know About Eating Fruit

For the record, Dr. Andrew Timothy Kraftson, MD, an endocrinologist and Clinical Associate Professor in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology, and Diabetes at the University of Michigan, says people with diabetes should not cut fruit out of their diet. “Fruit is an important source of fiber, vitamins and nutrients and should not be avoided by individuals with diabetes,” he explains.

In fact, scientific studies even suggest that eating fruit regularly is beneficial for preventing and treating type 2 diabetes. Research shows that people who eat fruit every day have a 48% lower risk of diabetes than people who don’t eat fruit. Another study found that people diagnosed with diabetes who ate fruit regularly experienced fewer health complications than people who did not eat fruit.

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While fruit is a good source of fiber and other nutrients the body needs, Dr. Kraftson says that it’s true that it can elevate blood sugar levels, which individuals with diabetes need to be mindful of. Because of this, he says that people with diabetes should follow a few guidelines when it comes to eating fruit. First, he says to eat fruit whole instead of in juice or smoothie form. “Eating the whole fruit provides the body with both healthy sugars and fiber. It takes longer for the body to process the whole fruit and this gives the body time to make insulin and keep blood sugar levels from spiking,” Dr. Kraftson explains.

Besides eating fruit in its whole form, Dr. Kraftson says that there is one other primary guideline regarding fruit that people with diabetes should follow, which is prioritizing low-glycemic fruit.

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The Best Type of Fruit for People With Diabetes

If you have diabetes and are a fruit-lover, Dr. Kraftson says the best fruit to eat regularly is low glycemic fruit. “Fruits that take longer to process are categorized as ‘low glycemic index.’ Fruits that are processed quickly are categorized as ‘high glycemic index.’ High glycemic index foods, including high-glycemic fruit, can raise blood sugars more rapidly,” Dr. Kraftson explains, adding that an example of a low glycemic index fruit is an apple and an example of a high glycemic index fruit is watermelon.

The glycemic index assigns a number between 0 and 100 to every food, based on how much it spikes blood sugar levels. The lower the number, the less it raises blood sugar levels. Foods that have a glycemic index of 50 or lower are considered low-glycemic. Below is a list of low-glycemic fruit that people with diabetes can eat without being overly concerned about how it’s impacting blood sugar levels:

Low-glycemic fruits

  • Cherries

  • Lemons

  • Grapefruit

  • Strawberries

  • Raspberries

  • Blueberries

  • Blackberries

  • Pomegranates

  • Apricots

  • Pears

  • Fresh figs

  • Mandarins

  • Oranges

  • Tangerines

  • Grapes

  • Peaches

  • Plums

  • Bananas

  • Cranberries

  • Prunes

  • Apples

  • Goji berries

As you can see, there is no shortage of low-glycemic fruit to choose from. “Fruit provides dietary fiber and important vitamins and nutrients needed by all individuals—and certainly for those with diabetes,” Dr. Kraftson says. “If someone is craving something sweet, fruit can also serve as healthier snack options rather than choosing processed foods high in [added sugar].”

The bottom line is that fruit is healthy for everyone—people with diabetes included. Prioritize eating whole fruit (instead of smoothies and juice) and choosing fruits that are low glycemic. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy something sweet while benefitting your body, a win-win!

Next up, check out this list of 13 foods that help with diabetes.