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, 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.
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 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.
1 Berries for a Refreshing Treat and Disease-Fighting Antioxidants
Whether you love blueberries, strawberries, or any other type of berry, you have the go-ahead to indulge. Berries are a diabetes superfood because they’re packed with antioxidants and fiber. One cup of fresh blueberries has 84 calories and 21 grams (g) of carbohydrates. If you can resist the urge to just pop them into your mouth, try berries in a parfait, alternating layers of fruit with plain nonfat yogurt — it makes a great dessert or breakfast for diabetes.
2 Tart Cherries Help Fight Inflammation
One cup of cherries has 52 calories and 12.5 g of carbs and they may be especially good at fighting inflammation. Tart cherries are also packed with antioxidants, which may help fight heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. These fruits can be purchased fresh, canned, frozen, or dried. But since many canned and dried fruits contain added sugar, which can spike your blood sugar, be sure to check the labels.
3 Sweet, Juicy Peaches for Metabolism-Boosting Potassium
Fragrant, juicy peaches are a warm-weather treat and can also be included in your diabetes-friendly diet. One medium peach contains 59 calories and 14 g of carbohydrates. It also has 10 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, which covers 11 percent of your daily value (DV) for that nutrient, and 285 mg of potassium (6 percent of the DV). The fruit is delicious on its own or tossed into iced tea for a fruity twist. When you want an easy diabetes-friendly snack, whip up a quick smoothie by pureeing peach slices with low-fat buttermilk, crushed ice, and a touch of cinnamon or ginger.
4 Apricots for a Scrumptious, Fiber-Rich Bite
Apricots are a sweet summer fruit staple and a wonderful addition to your diabetes meal plan. One apricot has just 17 calories and 4 g of carbohydrates. Four fresh apricots provide 134 micrograms (mcg) of your daily vitamin A requirement, which is 15 percent of your DV. These fruity jewels are also a good source of fiber. (Four apricots have 3 g of fiber, or 10 percent of the DV. Try mixing some diced fresh apricots into hot or cold cereal, or toss some in a salad.
5 Apples for a Quick Fibrous and Vitamin C–Rich Snack
An apple a day really might keep the doctor away. Toss one in your purse or tote bag if you’re on the go; a medium-size apple is a great fruit choice, with just 95 calories and 25 g of carbs. Apples are also loaded with fiber (about 4 g per medium fruit, for 16 percent of your DV) and offer some vitamin C, with one midsize apple providing 8.73 mg or about 9 percent of the DV. Don’t peel your apples, though — the skins are nutritious, with extra fiber and heart-protective antioxidants.
6 Oranges for a Juicy, Refreshing Source of Vitamin C
Eat one orange and you’ll get 78 percent of the vitamin C you need in a day (there are 70 mg of C in one medium fruit). This refreshing choice comes in at only 15 g of carbohydrates and 62 calories. One medium orange also contains folate (40 mcg or 10 percent of the DV) and potassium (237 mg or 5 percent of the DV), which may help normalize blood pressure. And while you’re enjoying this juicy treat, don’t forget that other citrus fruits, like grapefruit, are also great choices.
7 Pears for Easy Snacking, Plus Vitamin K and Fiber
Because pears are an excellent source of fiber they make a wise addition to your diabetes meal plan. Plus, unlike most fruit, they actually improve in texture and flavor after they’re picked. Store your pears at room temperature until they’re ripe and perfect for eating (they can then be stowed in the refrigerator), recommends USA Pears. Here’s a tasty treat: Slice up a pear and toss it into your next spinach salad.
8 Zesty Green Kiwi for Potassium, Fiber, and Vitamin C
If you’ve never tried a kiwi, you may not know that its fuzzy brown peel hides a zesty bright green fruit one delicious, powerhouse kiwi has 215 mg of potassium . One kiwi also has about 42 calories and 10 g of carbohydrates, so it’s a smart addition to your diabetes-friendly diet. Kiwis are available year-round and will last in the refrigerator for up to seven days, according to Zespri Kiwifruit.