The Forbidden Fruit?

Written by Nicole Rohrig, RD CD

Too often I hear my clients tell me that they can't eat fruits. Sometimes this conclusion is drawn after a single high BG reading, or maybe was a recommendation from a doctor 20 years ago. Yes, fruit has natural carbohydrates and sugars, which will elevate blood sugar, but it is also a great source of many vitamins, minerals, and fiber. If part of your meal plan, people with diabetes should be able to fit fruit into their life. 

Portion size is key and the carbohydrate content varies based on the type of fruit, size, and level of ripeness. Many resources use the diabetic exchange system as an easy way to count carbohydrates. This divides foods into portions equalivalent to 15 g of carbohydrates. 

Here are some popular fruits with portions=15 g carbohydrates: 

Fruit 

Serving Size

Apple

1 small (2”)

Banana

1 small (4”) or 1/2 medium (7”)

Blueberries/blackberries

3/4 cup

Cantaloupe, honeydew

1 cup

Cherries

12

Grapefruit

1/2 large

Grapes

17 (handful)

Kiwi

1 small 

Mango, 

1/2 cup cubed

Nectarine

1

Orange

1 small (2”)

Peach

1 medium

Pear

1/2 large

Pineapple

3/4 cup

Plums

2 small

Raspberries

1 cup

Strawberries

1 1/4 cup

Tangerines

2 small

Watermelon

1 1/4 cup

Dried fruits: Rasins/Craisins/cherries

2 Tbsp

Dried Fruits: Prunes

3 pieces

Canned Fruit: unsweetened

1/2 cup

Fruit Juices: apple, orange, pineapple, grapefruit

1/2 cup

Fruit Juices: grape, prune

1/3 cup

 

There are lots of great websites, books, and smart phone apps to help track carbohydrates. These resources will have carb counts for different sized fruits and foods as well (and will be more exact for those of you that struggle with your blood sugars) I like www.calorieking.com or www.myfitnesspal.com for online websites and smart phone apps for their ease and accessability. 

Fiber is not digested by the body and helps slow down the absoprtion of glucose (which is favorable). This is one reason why I encourage most diabetics to avoid or greatly limit juices in their diet. 100% juice is simply fruit without fiber. Anyone that has experienced hypoglycemia will likely agree that a serving of juice will quickly elevate blood sugar. This same reaction occurs when blood sugar is running normal or high, encouraging hyperglycemia. 

Protein Power: Protein can help stabilize blood sugar, especially when paired with simple carbohydrates.  I always encourage pairing fruits with a source of healthy fats or protein to help slow down how fast the glucose is absorbed. This may be part of a meal (perhaps with your sandwich or salad) or as a snack. Easy examples for snacks include: nuts/nut butter, low-fat cheese, cottage cheese, or greek yogurt.

To help fit fruit into you diet plan schedule an appointment with a local Registered Dietitian (RD or RDN) or Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE).  

It is true that not everyone is alike and not all blood sugars are consistent. If you think that fruits elevate your blood sugar too much, experiment with testing 1 or 2 hours later to see how you are digesting it. 

How does fruit fit into your life?