Can I eat fruit?

People living with diabetes often ask "Can I eat fruit?"  


As a general guideline, whether or not you have diabetes, the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends eating a healthy, balanced diet including two serves of fruit each day. 


Moderate consumption of fruit provides fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants important for nutrition.


However, fruit can have varied effects on individual blood glucose levels (BGLs) so there are some important factors to consider when selecting your fruit options.


Fruits can be high in carbohydrates and simple sugars so the glycemic index (GI) of a particular fruit or meal containing fruit can affect BGLs.


GI is a way of describing how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food is broken down and enters the blood stream, and how this affects BGLs.


Foods with a low GI raise blood glucose more slowly, and BGLs do not spike high as they do with high GI carbohydrate foods. Generally, fruits which have less effect upon BGLs are fibre rich; for example, an orange or apple.


When choosing fruit remember that the preparation of fruit can affect blood glucose. 


Whole fresh or frozen fruits are more nutritious and less inclined to affect BGLs than processed fruits and fruit juices, smoothies and other fruit blends which are absorbed more rapidly, leading to BGL spikes. 


Dried fruit has water removed and has a high concentration of natural sugar.


Frozen or tinned fruit are suitable options if fresh fruit is not available. 


Try to avoid the fruit in syrup and look for tinned fruit that contains natural fruit juice, draining the excess juice before eating.   


To increase your fruit intake, fresh or frozen berries are a great choice.


Berries have many healthy nutrients; for example, anti-oxidants and vitamin c, which help fight infection, and have less fructose concentration or natural sugar than other fruits such as dates or overripe bananas.


This means they are less likely to spike your blood glucose. Add berries to breakfast cereal, eat as a snack, or combine with natural yoghurt for a tasty dessert.


Please note that these recommendations are a general guideline. If you would like more individualised advice, please contact an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

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