Most people with diabetes are worried about eating fruit because they know that fruit contains sugar. However, fruit should be included as part of any healthy diet, even if you have diabetes. Fruit is packed with beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fibre.
How Much Fruit Can I Eat If I Have Diabetes?
While fruit is nutritious, too much of a healthy food can lead to weight gain. The key is remembering to control the portion sizes of the foods you consume. The amount of fruit an individual should eat is the same, regardless of whether you have diabetes or not. In Singapore, the Health Promotion Board encourages Singaporeans to eat a minimum of 2 servings of fruit each day. One serving of fruit is roughly the size of your fist. For example, 1 medium apple, orange or pear (130g), 1 wedge of watermelon (130g without skin), or 10 grapes (50g).
All carbohydrate-containing foods – not just those with sugar affect blood sugar levels. Besides, it is the amount of carbohydrates you eat (not the type) that has the biggest influence on blood sugar levels. Too much of any carbohydrate at a given meal or snack will likely raise your blood sugar higher than you would like. You may wish to work with a dietitian that specializes in diabetes to work out how much carbohydrates you need, and how to spread your intake throughout the day.
What About Fruit Juice & Dried Fruit?
While juices can be a quick and convenient way to get some of the health benefits of fruit, for example vitamins and minerals, it is important to note that they may not be as filling as eating fruit whole because some or all of the fibre may have been removed. Moreover, there may be a higher chance of over-consuming unneeded calories and carbohydrates as you can get through a lot of juice within a relatively short period of time. This can result in your blood glucose levels going up, and may affect your weight in the long-term.
If you have diabetes, dried fruit can be worked into your meals and snacks for the day. However, I must caution that like fruit juice, because they are very concentrated sources of sugar and carbohydrates, the amount you can eat is reduced. For example, a similar nutrient profile for 1 miniature box of raisins is that of 1 handful of grapes, while for 3 pieces of dried mango, you can (preferably) eat the equivalent of ½ a small mango.
“Choose fresh, whole fruit most of the time”
How Can I Include Fruit In My Diet?
Enjoy a variety of fruit as you will be able to obtain a different mix of nutrients. Just remember to spread your intake throughout the day rather than having them all at one go.
You may wish to try these 3 tips:
- Add cut fruit to your cereal or oats for breakfast
- Have a fruit salad topped with no added sugar low-fat plain yoghurt
- Have a fist-sized serving of your favourite fruit in between meals to stave off hunger pangs