Fruits with a lower glycemic index value, like apples, may cause blood sugar to rise more slowly than other fruits, such as watermelon. The index is one tool that can help you make suitable fruit choices if you have diabetes.
One aim of diabetes treatment is to manage blood sugar levels and minimize spikes in blood glucose levels. There are various ways to do this, including regular blood glucose monitoring, counting carbohydrates, and checking foods on the glycemic index (GI).
Some nutrients, such as fiber, can slow the body’s absorption of glucose and reduce the risk of harmful glucose spikes. Fruits can be high in sugar, but they also contain fiber. As a result, many fruits have a low GI value.
As well as fiber, fruits provide a range of essential nutrients. Eating a variety of fruits in moderation can be an important part of your diet if you have diabetes.
The glycemic index (GI) is one tool scientists have proposed to help people understand the effect different foods are likely to have on their blood sugar levels. Your doctor may suggest using this tool as part of your overall approach to healthy eating.
It offers broad categories to guide people’s food choices.
GI values can be:
- Low: 55 or below
- Moderate: 56 to 69
- High: 70 and above
The lower the GI score, the slower the the rise in blood sugar, making it easier for the body to manage post-meal changes.
Most whole fruits have a low-to-moderate GI. Many also provide important nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, antioxidants, and fiber.
Here, we make some suggestions of fruits with a low GI index value. Regardless of their GI value, it’s essential to fit any fruits into an overall healthy eating plan prepared with your healthcare team.
One cup of cherries with pits
- carbohydrates: 22.1 grams (g), of which 17.7 g are sugars
- calories: 86.9
- fiber: 2.9 g
- vitamins B, C, and K
Cherries have a short growing season, but you can opt for frozen cherries without added sugar.
Grapefruit is a low-GI value fruit and an excellent source of vitamin C.
Half a grapefruit also
One 35 g apricot
- carbohydrates: 3.9 g, of which 3.2 g are sugars
- calories: 16.8
- fiber 0.7 g
- calcium and copper
- vitamins C, A, E, and some B vitamins
Dried apricots are a medium-GI fruit and a nutritious choice in low quantities. Because they’re dried, the amount of carbohydrates they provide is higher than the whole fruit.
One dried apricot
- carbohydrate: 4.4 g, of which 3.8 g are sugars
- calories 16.9
- fiber 0.51 g
One medium pear
- carbohydrates: 27.1 g, of which 17.4 are sugars
- fiber: 5.52 g
- calories: 101
- potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus
- vitamins C, K, and some B vitamins
Try this summery recipe for pear and pomegranate salad.
Apples can satisfy your need for crunch and a sweet treat. They have a low GI value and are a good source of fiber.
The exact composition of apples will depend on the variety, but one medium apple will typically
- carbohydrates: 25.1 g, of which 18.9 g are sugars
- fiber: 4.8 g
- calories: 94.6
- potassium, vitamin C, some B vitamins, and a range of antioxidants
Oranges will boost your vitamin C and have a low GI value.
A whole orange is less likely to increase your blood sugar than orange juice, and it will likely be more filling. It takes several oranges to make a glass of juice.
There are different types of oranges, but a typical orange weighing 154 g will
- carbohydrates: 18.2 g, of which 13.8 g are sugars
- fiber: 3.4 g
- calories: 77
- vitamin C: 87 milligrams (mg)
- calcium, mangnesium, phosphorus, potassium
- vitamin A and a range of antioxidants
Use red blood oranges in this recipe for spicy orange tilapia to add a bright color and a new taste.
Plums are available as fresh fruit or dried, as prunes.
One fresh plum weighing 66 g will
- carbohydrates: 7.5 g, of which 6.5 g are sugars
- fiber: 0.9 g
- calories: 30.4
- potassium, magnesium
- vitamin C, A, and some B vitamins
One pitted prune weighing 9.5 g
- carbohydrate: 6.1, of which 3.6 g are sugars
- fiber: 0.6 g
- calories: 22.8
- calcium, potassium, magnesium
Prune juice is also available, but check the sugar and carbohydrate levels on the label.
A half-cup of strawberries weighing
- carbohydrates: 11.4 g, of which 8.0 g are sugars
- fiber: 2.7 g
- calories: 52.5
- vitamin C: 84 mg
- a range of antioxidants, including choline, beta carotene, and lutein + zeaxanthin
Try strawberries whole as a snack or dessert, top them with Greek yogurt or include them in one of these smoothie-based recipes.
One peach weighing 150 g
- carbohydrates: 15.2 g, of which 12.6 g are sugars
- fiber: 2.3 g
- calories: 69
- vitamins K, A, and C
- antioxidants, including choline, beta carotene, and lutein + zeaxanthin
Grapes have a low GI value and contain a range of antioxidants, such as proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, flavonols, phenolic acids. These nutrients
A half-cup of grapes weighing 75 g
- carbohydrate: 13.6 g, of which 11.6 g are sugars
- fiber: 0.7 g
- calories: 51.8
- calcium, potassium, magnesium
Dried grapes, such as raisins, have a medium GI value.
One small box of raisins weighing 1.5 ounces (43 g)
- carbohydrate: 34.1 g, of which 28 g are sugars
- fiber: 1.9 g
- calories: 129
- protein: 1.42 g
- calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium
Raisins make a healthy snack, but it’s best to eat them in moderation due to their high carb and energy content. As a dried fruit, they have a medium GI value.
Is the GI value the best way to decide which fruits to eat?
GI values offer a general guide to help you choose foods and can be helpful as a part of a wider dietary plan if you have diabetes.
Working out a plan with a healthcare professional, following an overall healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and monitoring your blood sugar with a glucometer are all essential parts of managing diabetes.
What are the best low glycemic fruits?
Most fruits tend to be low on the GI, with a value below 55. Apples, oranges, and pears are some examples of fruits with values below 55 on the index. Dried fruits, including sweetened cranberries have medium values.
What fruits should diabetics avoid?
All frozen and whole fruits are healthy for people with diabetes, but you may need to keep an eye on the carbs they provide, according to any treatment plan you have made with your healthcare team.
Fruits that may be high in sugar include:
- canned or dried fruits with added sugars
- fruit juices, including 100% juice
- dried fruits
- watermelon and lychee, which have high GI values
- pineapple, pawpaw, and rock melon, which have medium GI values
In general, the more processed a food is, the higher the GI value is likely to be, as processing makes sugars easier for the body to absorb. The best strategy is to eat a variety of fruits in keeping with your eating plan.
What fruit does not spike blood sugar?
Moderate amounts of whole, low-GI fruits, such as apples, are less likely to cause a blood sugar spike than dried fruits, fruit juice, and fruits with added sugars.
Most fresh, whole fruits have a low GI value and can be a valuable addition to your diet if you have diabetes. Be sure to fit them into your overall eating plan, as the GI value of foods is not the only factor to consider.
Dried fruits and juices have a higher GI value. They also offer health benefits but need to be taken in moderation.
Following a diet with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables will ensure you get many of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you need.