Diabetes affects approximately 3 million people in Malaysia and more than 370 million people worldwide. While meal planning and portion restrictions are vital to achieve good blood glucose control, being diabetic does not mean that one should completely do away with fruits from their diet!
People with diabetes should still consume fresh fruits in moderate quantities as part of their daily diet as fruits serve as an important source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. It is also a healthier dessert option compared to sweet sugary snacks or candies (which often contain not only added sugar but also fats and sodium) whenever one experience sweet cravings.
In general, a person with diabetes can consume between 2 – 4 servings of fruit a day, depending on their total caloric needs. A diabetic person following a 1,200-1,600 calories/ day diet for example, may have up to two fruit servings a day, split over multiple meals. However, the number of daily fruit servings should be individualized based on glucose control, weight management goals and personal preference.
Serving size varies according to the type of fruits consumed: an apple or orange about the size of a tennis ball constitutes one serving, so does one and a quarter cup of fresh strawberries or two tablespoons of dried fruit (raisins) or one small banana or one medium starfruit. Each of these servings contains approximately 15 g of carbohydrate similar to that in one single slice of white bread.
Image: Blueberries and strawberries
It is also worth mentioning that certain processed fruit juices and smoothies may contain added sugar which can be as much as those found in sugary drinks, thus it is always wise to read the sugar content on nutrition fact labels.
Selection of fruits with low glycaemic index (GI), practicing portion control and spacing out of fruit consumption will also effectively minimise disruption of blood glucose control. Fruits such as apples, strawberries, avocados, grapes, kiwi fruits, oranges, lemons and pears are example of low GI fruits (GI< 55).
Image: Example of low glycaemic index fruits
A balanced meal selection, proper portioning paired with adequate physical activity and medication compliance would help keep blood glucose levels within the desired range. Should you have any doubts regarding the suitable fruits types or portion sizes suitable for yourself or a loved one living with diabetes, feel free to discuss your options with your dietitian or pharmacist.
Lau Hui Ling
M.Pharm, R.Ph, PhD.
- Clinical practice guidelines: Management of type 2 diabetes mellitus, 5th ed. 2015. https://dosinghealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/CPG20T2DM202015.pdf
- Atkinson, F.S., et al. 2008. International tables of glycaemic index and glycaemic load values.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2584181/
- Gray A. 2015. Nutritional recommendations for individuals with diabetes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279012/
- Fujii, H., et al. 2013. Impact of dietary fiber intake on glycaemic control, cardiovascular risk factors and chronic kidney disease in Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-12-159
- NHS Choices: Fruit may lower diabetes risk while juice may raise it. 2013 https://www.nhs.uk/news/diabetes/fruit-may-lower-diabetes-risk-while-juice-may-raise-it/