Diabetes Blogs

Fruitcake News: Could This Classic Creation Be Making a Comeback?

fruitcake on checked napkinFruitcake: Love it or hate it this festive concoction has been around since colonial times. Now, a small Canadian study reveals that fruitcake has a lower GI than white bread. Does this make it an acceptable treat? (Photo: 123rf)

Ah, fruitcake. As we near Christmas, I imagine the weighty loaves winging their way across the country, landing with a thud on doorsteps everywhere. Jokes about the cake abound—legend has it that many of the untouched are simply re-gifted year after year after year. Most recipients have strong opinions about these sturdy loaves: they either love or hate them. 

As a big fan of dried fruit, I’ve always been pretty positive about fruitcakes, but have stayed away because of my type 2 diabetes. All that dried fruit! All that sugar!

But this year a very small Canadian study–sponsored by two dried fruit organizations—may allow me a taste or two. Researchers found that in 10 healthy individuals four dried fruits—dates, apricots, raisins, and sultanas (white raisins)—actually ranked lower on the glycemic index than white bread. 

What is the glycemic index (GI), you may ask? The GI ranks foods by how different items affect blood sugars. Foods high on the index—such as white bread, potatoes, and rice—produce a spike in blood glucose and insulin, while carbohydrates low on the scale—beans, lentils, barley, and oats—are broken down more slowly and cause a more moderate increase in blood glucose and insulin. 

A Study About Fruitcake...Really?

Reading the study, my first thought was to look for additional studies. Going back into the research, there has been some support: a 2014 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science suggested that raisins, as a low GI food, can be used as a healthy menu item for people with diabetes. 

Closer to home, this year I’ve developed some experience with dried fruits and my own blood sugars. 

Since January, I’ve been revamping my eating plan to lose some weight and to combat eating boredom. One of the items I’ve added to my daily mix is dried apricots and, on occasion, raisins and dates. I use them as a sweet treat after meals and for snacks.

Eating them, I didn’t go crazy; I limited amounts to reasonable servings. But the dried fruits —prepared without extra sugar or preservatives—satisfied my sweet tooth, so much so that I didn’t once raid the pantry searching for a spare cookie or chocolate. 

Dried fruit killed those cravings. 

Over the year, I kept a close check on my blood glucose readings and despite the addition of dried fruit, I didn’t clock much change. I worried about my upcoming A1C but stuck to my plan. I was dropping pounds, felt well, and my sugars remained stable. 

And when I finally saw my endo this fall, the news was good: an A1C of 5.9 and a random blood sugar reading of 107. 

Is Dried Fruit a Blood Sugar-Friendly Treat? 

Does this mean fruitcake is a go for people with diabetes? 

Well, even if dried fruit is less of a problem than we once believed, there is still white flour and sugar to consider. Yet while it’s hardly a health food, people with well-controlled diabetes (and a taste for the stuff) could probably fit a slice into a holiday meal. 

Conversely, haters can simply lean on their chronic disease: “Sorry, not on my meal plan.” 

One of the very rare times that diabetes is a plus. 

 

 

 

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