You may be able to eat watermelon in moderation if you have diabetes. Fruit provides key nutrients and can be part of a balanced eating plan.

Watermelon is a sweet summertime favorite. But it does contain natural sugars. Depending on your overall diet and the amount of watermelon you consume, it may affect your blood sugar level.

Keep reading to learn how adding watermelon to your diet may affect you.

Watermelon contains natural sugar that may affect your blood sugar levels. The amount of sugar depends on how much watermelon you eat.

One cup, or 152 grams (g), of diced watermelon contains 9.42 g of natural sugar and 11.5 g of carbohydrates.

One wedge (about one-sixth of a watermelon, or 286 g) contains 17.7 g of natural sugar and 21.6 g of carbohydrates.

A small serving of watermelon may be a nutritious addition to a balanced eating plan if you have diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends eating fresh, frozen, or canned fruit without added sugars instead of products that contain added sugars.

Watermelon provides fiber, as well as the following vitamins and minerals:

Vitamin A supports healthy vision and aids in the upkeep of your heart, kidneys, and lungs.

Vitamin C is also beneficial for your health. Regularly eating foods high in vitamin C and other antioxidants may:

Because watermelon is high in fiber, eating it can promote digestive health and regular bowel movements. Watermelon is also hydrating, as it is more than 90% water.

Plus, eating moderate amounts of watermelon can satisfy your craving for something sweet while keeping you feeling full longer.

There isn’t any specific research directly connecting watermelon consumption and diabetes management. But there’s some evidence to suggest that eating watermelon may help reduce your risk for certain diabetes-related complications.

Watermelon contains a moderate amount of lycopene, which is the pigment that gives the fruit its color. Lycopene is also a powerful antioxidant.

Lycopene may help reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Adults with diabetes are twice as likely to experience cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, compared with adults who do not have diabetes.

But you can reduce your risk by eating a nutritious diet rich in fruits and vegetables and managing your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

People who are managing diabetes by counting carbohydrates often use this approach. Foods with a low or medium glycemic index are considered less likely to raise your blood sugar levels.

Glycemic index (GI) vs. glycemic load (GL)

The glycemic index (GI) is a rating of how quickly sugar from a food enters your bloodstream. Each food item is given a GI value from 1 to 100. These values are based how each food compares to a reference item. Sugar or white bread is generally used for reference.

Glycemic load (GL) is a combination of a food’s GI and the actual carbohydrate content in a typical serving of the food. Some argue that the GL gives a more real-world value of how a specific food can affect blood sugar levels.

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Watermelon typically has a GI of 72 but a GL of 5 per 120-g serving. Watermelon has a low GL and, like all fruit, it can be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced meal.

A GI of 55 or less is considered low. A GI between 55 and 69 is generally considered medium. A GI of 70 or more is considered high.

A GL under 10 is low, 10 to 19 is medium, and 19 or more is high.

Although eating watermelon has its benefits, consider balancing your diet with fruits that have a lower GI. Choose fresh fruit when possible, as it doesn’t have any added sugars.

If you want to buy canned or frozen fruit, remember to choose canned fruits packed in fruit juice or water rather than those packed in syrup. Be sure to read the label carefully and look for hidden sugars. You can also drain or rinse fruits packed in syrup to reduce the added sugar content.

Dried fruit and fruit juice should be consumed less often than fresh fruit. This is due to:

  • calorie density
  • sugar concentration
  • smaller recommended portion sizes

Diabetes-friendly fruits with a low GI include:

  • plums
  • grapefruit
  • peaches
  • apricots
  • pears
  • berries

If you want to add watermelon to your weekly meal plan, it’s best to look at your diet as a whole. Watermelon has a relatively high GI but a low GL. You may want to keep an eye on portion sizes and check your glucose levels after eating watermelon with a balanced meal to see how your body responds. Pairing fruit with protein may help regulate your blood sugar levels.

You can talk with a healthcare professional about how to add variety to your diet. They’ll review your current diet and look at your overall health profile.

They may refer you to a registered dietitian to help you determine the best eating plan to manage your diabetes.

A dietitian can:

  • answer your questions about food
  • recommend portion sizes
  • advise you on possible substitutions

Make sure to track your physical response to adding watermelon or other new foods to your diet. Share your tracking information with a healthcare professional on your next visit.