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If you’re a diabetic, you have probably started to cut back on parts of your diet. Whether it is avoiding sugary foods or reducing the intake of rice (and other carbohydrates) your goal is to maintain normal blood glucose levels. So when you walk into the grocery store, some of these options might be quite clear – such as avoiding that pack of biscuits or potato chips when you fill up your cart. And then you walk into the fruit aisle, faced with a dilemma.
You’ve always been told that fruits are good for your health but you also know that some fruits have high sugar content. So what do you do? Here are some facts and tips that you will find useful.
- As a general rule, fruits are an excellent source of other dietary requirements such as vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants sodon’t completely avoid any particular fruit. Instead aim to get a healthy portion of different fruits in your diet. Fruits also contain natural sugars which are a much better choice in comparison to any processed sugary foods.
- There are two major aspects that you have to take into account when considering the impact of any food on your blood glucose levels.Glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL). While GI is commonly used to discuss the suitability of foods, glycemic load is a less-known but equally important measurement. So when doing your research, be sure to check both these values!
- Berries are often considered great for diabetics because of theirlow GI so stock up on those blueberries, raspberries and strawberries! Add them to yogurt, to your cereal or eat them just like that as a snack. You can also try making your own homemade natural jams and jellies with these fruits by not removing the fiber or adding any extra sugars).
- Other fruits that have alow to medium GI are apples, peaches, pears and grapes. Be sure to mix them up for both variety and nutritional value.
- Fruits that have a medium to high GI/GL are mangoes, bananas and chickoo. Have them in smaller portions when compared to the low GI fruits.
- Fruits such as watermelons and cantaloupes have a high GI but this may be misleading as they are mostly water and contain much lower levels of sugars. As a result, they have much lower glycemic loads and are make great additions to your daily fruit cup. Their water content also makes them particularly useful in the summer months to replace water lost through sweating.
- Fresh fruit is better when compared to dried fruits. If you are eating dried fruits like raisins, be sure to eat them in small, measured portions. They contain sugars in concentrated form and can cause a sharp rise in blood sugar levels. Some dried fruits available in stores may also contain added sugars so be sure to check the ingredients when you buy them. On the other hand if your blood sugar is very low (hypoglycemia), dried fruits may be a quick natural remedy to correct your sugar levels.
- Fresh fruits are generally better than drinking them as a juice for many reasons. First the juice extraction process removes almost all fiber content from the fruit which. Fiber not only reduces the glycemic load but is also a critical part of the diet. A glass of orange juice for example may contain the sugars from 2 or 3 oranges. Secondly fruit juices bought in the store generally tend to come from concentrate and/or have added sugars, which defeats the purpose of eating fresh fruit. So restrict the amount of fruit you intake as juices and be sure to absolutely avoid added sugars in your drink!