But when you have diabetes, you have to watch what you eat. This is even true when it comes to fruits and veggies. While most dietitians would probably say there is no “bad” fruit or vegetable, if you have diabetes, it’s a different story.
Since you need to control you blood glucose levels 24/7, the best way to do this is by looking at the glycemic index for each fruit and vegetable. The glycemic index (or GI), is a measure of how your body converts carbohydrates in your food into sugar (glucose), which can affect your insulin levels. Generally, when a fruit has a lower index GI value of 55 or less, it’s a good choice and a safe option for people with diabetes. These types of fruits will have less of an impact on your blood sugar levels. Continue to read below for a wonderful list of fruits with a GI of 55 or less!
1. An Apple A Day
Apples have a very low glycemic index at around 39, making them one of the best fruits to choose. Not only are apples good for their GI levels, but they also help lower bad cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease. Apples are also high in fiber, which is good for your colon.
2. Fresh Blueberries
On the GI scale, blueberries have a rating of 40 for a one-cup serving. Blueberries bring a lot of benefits to the table. First, they don’t raise your glucose level. Also, they’re filled with antioxidants, which help fight off free radicals that contribute to heart disease and cancer. Blueberries are an easy way to regulate blood sodium because they are a natural source of potassium. Finally, they are also filled with vitamins C and E.
3. Fresh Raspberries
According to the USDA, a one cup serving of raspberries has 32.2 milligrams of Vitamin C (over half the daily requirement). Vitamin C is an antioxidant that has been linked to helping with the prevention of cancer, as well as heart disease, and can help create stronger bones and healthier skin. (By the way, raspberries have a GI rating of 40!) Fresh raspberries and blueberries are easy to freeze. Just wash, dry on a paper towel, and spread in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in the freezer for an hour or two, then pour them into a freezer bag. Scoop out the amount you need, and enjoy!
4. Red Grapefruit
Red grapefruit without added sugars or syrups has a very low GI rating of 25, but it also has other health benefits, especially for diabetics with high cholesterol levels. In a recent study, people with heart disease who ate grapefruit once a day for 30 days lowered their LDL (bad cholesterol) by 20%!1 Grapefruit can also improve HDL or good cholesterol levels. It’s also been known to lower high blood pressure. Grapefruit is very high in vitamin C as well as fiber, which puts it on the American Diabetes Association’s list of superfoods. Grapefruit is a healthy, juicy treat that is chockfull of benefits for you. Peel it, slice it or roast it with some honey as part of your meal or a yummy snack!
Cherries are another terrific, low-GI friendly fruit choice for diabetes. At a GI rating of 22, they are also a low-carb choice which can be included safely in your diabetic diet. A dozen cherries have only 59 calories and 14 grams of carbohydrates. In fact, a recent study found that tart cherries contain more anti-inflammatory agents than any other fruit. They’re rich in antioxidants, which may fight heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
Many fruits can be bought fresh, canned, frozen or dried. If you aren’t buying them fresh, remember to check the labels for added sugars and preservatives. All fruits are not created equal!
Diabetes doesn’t mean losing out on fun, healthy and delicious foods, but it does involve educating yourself about the best choices you can make to help manage your glucose levels and stay healthy. As with all suggestions, you need to make smart choices around any known food allergies or sensitivities! For more information on glycemic indexes, you can easily search online or talk to a diabetes nurse educator or registered dietician.
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1Murphy MM, Barraj LM, Rampersaud GC. Consumption of grapefruit is associated with higher nutrient intakes and diet quality among adults, and more favorable anthropometrics in women, NHANES 2003-2008. Food Nutr Res. 2014;58