Although common, claiming that fruit consumption is unrestricted is a myth. This statement, which circulates on the Internet, encourages excess food and worries health agents.
Data from the latest edition of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Diabetes Atlas show that 463 million people worldwide have diabetes. This number corresponds to 9.3% of the world population, and more than half of adults with the disease have not yet been diagnosed. The numbers still show that type 2 diabetes is the most present and affects 90% of patients.
Read too: Pre-diabetes: when “normal” blood glucose is not enough
The diabetic needs to be careful when consuming foods rich in carbohydrates, including fruits with higher sugar content, such as persimmons, pineapples, watermelon, bananas, figs and jackfruit. One of the best ways to control your blood glucose level is to eat low-sugar, high-fiber foods.
Therefore, it is important to emphasize that the relationship between fruits and diabetes requires care. Shall we find out more about the subject?
Type 1 and 2 diabetes
Diabetes is characterized by the difficulty in metabolizing glucose, whether due to the lack or poor performance of insulin. The hormone is responsible for turning glucose into energy and, therefore, a diabetic needs regular glucose control.
Diabetes mellitus can be divided into some types, which are characterized by increased blood glucose. See the main ones below:
- Type 1 – It is characterized by a complete deficiency in insulin production. It is the most common type of diabetes in children and adolescents, and requires the daily application of insulin to control glucose.
- Type 2 – It is characterized by insufficiency in insulin production or resistance. It is the most common type, worldwide, and mainly affects people over 40 years of age. In some cases, the patient may be insulin dependent, as they also need to apply insulin.
See, in the first case, the pancreas does not produce the hormone, so the sugar remains in the blood and is not transformed into energy through metabolization. In the second case, there is some factor that causes insulin resistance, and this causes an increase in blood sugar. Did you know that? Follow the column to learn more about the disease.
Fruits and diabetics
The relationship between fruits and diabetes requires care due to the high concentration of carbohydrates, such as glucose and fructose, which raise blood glucose.
When a person without the disease consumes a fruit rich in carbohydrates, such as a banana, the body breaks down sugar molecules and metabolizes glucose through insulin. In the case of an individual with diabetes, the high levels of glucose generated by the consumption of the fruit can cause several problems due to the difficulty in metabolizing sugar.
Thus, the orientation for the diabetic is to consume a moderate amount of fruit, without exaggeration. In addition, it is recommended to choose the fruits considering the glycemic index of each one, so that blood levels are not uncontrolled.
Fruits that have high glycemic indexes do not need to be eliminated from the menu. They can be consumed along with other foods to slow down the absorption of their sugars. See our tips below:
- Add fiber such as granola, oat bran, chia or flaxseed.
- Add oilseeds such as chestnuts, almonds and macadamias.
- Associate it with the consumption of some protein, such as plain yogurt or skim milk.
I also highlight other recommendations:
- Consume unpeeled and pomaceous fruits.
- Choose seasonal and organic fruits, preferably.
- Eat the fruit in natura, without processing it.
Which fruits are recommended?
Fortunately, diabetics do not need to give up fruit consumption in order to have blood glucose control. But it’s important to follow some recommendations to choose the best options.
The most suitable fruits for diabetics are those with less sugar and more fiber. I’ve separated some good examples:
- coconut – rich in fiber, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium;
- avocado – rich in good fats, potassium and phosphorus;
- apricot – contains large amounts of copper and vitamins A and E;
- pear – contains potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium;
- apple – unpeeled, an apple provides up to 20% of daily fiber;
- orange – rich in fiber and vitamin C;
- strawberry – source of vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.
Even though they are allowed on a glycemic control diet, it is important that these and other fruits be consumed in moderation. No exaggeration, right?
It is also important to consult a nutritionist or nutritionist to find out which options to put on the menu. Even with many benefits, some people need to reduce their consumption of fruits and set up dishes that meet their nutritional needs.
And since we mentioned dietary fiber, I will explain more about this substance that is so beneficial for diabetics.
They are present in fruits and in various natural foods, and have numerous benefits for patients with high blood glucose levels. According to the Brazilian Society of Diabetes (SBD), fibers are important for the prevention and treatment of the disease. They can be classified between soluble and insoluble. Both have an important role for the body, the soluble one controls blood glucose and the insoluble one helps in the intestinal transit and satiety.
By promoting blood glucose control and increased satiety, fruits that have a high fiber content are more recommended for those with diabetes. It is worth remembering that the most recommended form of consumption is in natura and with peel.
One of the main problems in juice consumption is the amount of fruit needed to make them. For example, to prepare 500 ml of orange juice takes around 6 units, not to mention that the process to prepare the drink eliminates that internal white part, which are fibers that are extremely beneficial to the body.
Studies claim that the consumption of juice increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, precisely because it contains the breakdown of fibers and the significant increase in sugar, even though it is natural. It’s worth the care and attention when choosing the drinks that accompany the meal.
Which fruits should be avoided?
Despite the recommendations I mentioned during the column, there is no prohibited fruit for diabetics. However, some options must have their consumption controlled, due to the high glycemic index.
The most important thing in a diabetic diet is to avoid the consumption of processed fruits, concentrated juices, fruit pulp with sugar, fruit in syrup, candied or dried. In addition, it is important to consume fruits in small amounts so that they do not become villains in controlling blood glucose.
Pay attention to the options that have the highest glycemic indexes: persimmon, pineapple, guava, banana, papaya, mango, melon, watermelon, grape, fig, jackfruit and black plum. These fruits can raise blood glucose, making it more difficult for patients with diabetes to metabolize sugar.
It is worth remembering that the quantity, form of consumption and monitoring can also represent danger. Consult a professional to create an ideal menu for your reality.
They look innocent, but they can also be a danger to diabetics. Common in many types of diets and products classified as fitness, dried fruits concentrate more amounts of sugar.
Furthermore, because they are small, we end up consuming more of them. Reflect: Which is easier to eat, three dried or fresh apricots?
In some cases, in addition to removing the water naturally present in the fruit, certain ingredients are added to dehydrate the fruit, which can raise the glycemic index.
Therefore, diabetics should avoid consuming too much dried fruit. If you want to consume, it is necessary to be in moderation, read the product label and check the amount of sugar per serving.
And the oilseeds?
Nuts, walnuts and peanuts are foods recommended for diabetics. However, despite offering several health benefits, they also have a high percentage of fat, and should be consumed in moderation, that is, do not exceed a handful of oilseeds per day.
Another precaution with these foods is at the time of purchase, avoid bulk options, as they are more prone to contamination of the product, whether in the supply of pots that are exposed or when weighing at the time of sale.
It is recommended to buy dried fruits and oilseeds in sealed packages where you can read the food label to identify the amount of sugar per serving.
How important is a balanced diet?
The recommendation for the prevention and treatment of diabetes is a balanced diet, as it provides several health benefits, such as increased physical disposition, control of blood sugar levels, better bowel function, prevention of different types of diseases and increase of satiety.
It is important to be careful with fad diets that come with miraculous promises and unsubstantiated guidelines.
As a food engineer and coordinator of PROTESTE’s Food and Health Competence Center, I suggest consulting a doctor and a nutritionist to control diseases such as diabetes.
PROTESTE, the largest consumer association in Latin America, emerged with the commitment to bring information and knowledge to consumers. We believe that information based on scientific research can improve consumption habits. Check out more tips and relevant content on the MinhaSaúde blog.