Diabetes is a condition in which the body doesn’t make enough (or any) insulin, or doesn’t use insulin the way it should. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose, or sugar, enter the body’s cells. If your body doesn’t make or use insulin properly, sugar can accumulate in your blood.

Some people take medication to control their blood sugar, yet others manage high blood sugar with exercise and a healthy diet. Although fruit is generally part of a healthy diet, some fruits are higher in natural sugars, so eating too much isn’t good for blood sugar. You might ask, can I eat papaya with diabetes?

The good news is that papaya is safe to eat if you’re living with diabetes.

Fruits are naturally sweet, and since consuming sugar affects blood sugar levels, some people might think that fruits are off-limits. But fruit is actually part of a healthy diet, and it’s OK to eat in moderation.

Grams of sugar

One cup of fresh papaya contains about 11 grams (g) of sugar, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

It’s best for people with diabetes to limit their intake of added sugars to help manage weight and keep blood sugar in target range.

The American Heart Association recommends that all people limit the amount of added sugars they consume to no more than half of their daily discretionary calories, or their leftover calorie deficit after consuming nutrient-dense foods.

For most women that means no more than 100 calories per day, which is about 6 tablespoons of sugar. For men, that’s about 150 calories a day, or about 9 teaspoons of sugar.

Glycemic index

The glycemic index is a value assigned to different foods that indicates how fast a given food increases blood sugar. This can be helpful for people with diabetes who are trying to keep their blood sugar in target range. Papaya scores 60 on the glycemic index (GI), so it doesn’t raise blood sugar too quickly.

Low GI foods score between 20 to 49, moderate GI foods are 50 to 69, and high GI foods are 70 to 100.

Potential benefit

Papaya isn’t only a good choice for people with diabetes because of its medium GI. Eating papaya might also lower your blood sugar.

According to some reports, papaya may have a hypoglycemic effect on the body. The fruit contains flavonoids, which are natural antioxidants that may help regulate blood sugar.

According to the USDA, one small fresh papaya has about 67 calories. Other nutritional values include:

  • 2.67 g of dietary fiber, 10 percent of your daily value
  • 286 milligrams (mg) of potassium, 6.08 percent of your daily value
  • 95.6 mg of vitamin C, 106.2 percent of your daily value
  • 33 mg of magnesium, 8 percent of your daily value
  • 31 mg of calcium, 3.1 percent of your daily value

Although papaya has a medium GI, you might prefer fruits with a lower glycemic index. If so, several fruits fall within a lower range. These include:

  • apples
  • apricots
  • blueberries
  • cranberries
  • grapefruit
  • plums
  • tangerines
  • blackberries
  • pears
  • strawberries
  • raspberries

Moderation is key, though. Try to eat only one or two pieces of fruit per day.

As far as fruits high on the glycemic index, these include:

  • watermelon
  • ripe bananas
  • pineapples
  • dried dates

These fruits might cause a spike in blood sugar.

A healthy-eating plan helps keep your blood sugar under control, which can also reduce the risk of diabetes complications. These include cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, and kidney damage.

A diabetes diet consists of a balanced, healthy meal plan. But healthy eating doesn’t only benefit people living with diabetes. Everyone benefits, including those who have prediabetes.

Recommended foods for a healthy diet include carbohydrates like:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • legumes
  • low-fat dairy

Since many healthy carbohydrates are rich in fiber, eating these foods also helps moderate blood sugar.

Even though papaya and other fruits can fit into a healthy diet, be mindful of how specific fruits score on the glycemic index before consuming. If possible, choose those with a low or moderate score to avoid blood sugar spikes.

A healthy diet also consists of lean protein, such as:

  • chicken
  • turkey
  • fish
  • shellfish
  • eggs
  • lean beef
  • pork

Also, you can consume healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts.

Foods to avoid include products containing trans fat like processed snacks and stick margarines. It’s also important to limit your sodium intake to no more than 2,300 mg per day.

Other tips for eating healthy include eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. You can also use smaller plates to help manage how much you eat.

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to serious complications such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage. So it’s important to take your diabetes medication as instructed, eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of physical activity.

Thirty minutes of physical activity most days of the week helps keep your blood sugar within a healthy range.

If you’re eating a balanced diet, exercising, and taking your medication, but your blood sugar remains high, talk with your doctor. Your doctor can refer you to a dietitian or a certified diabetes care and education specialist.

These professionals can help you manage your diabetes better. This includes providing education on healthy eating habits, weight loss strategies, and guidance on how to use diabetes devices.

Diabetes is a chronic condition. Yet with treatment, it is possible to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Fruit is a part of a healthy diet, and papaya may even have a hypoglycemic effect on the body.

But moderation is key. Limit your fruit intake to one or two servings a day, and talk with your doctor if you’re having trouble managing your blood sugar.