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If you have type 2 diabetes, you know how important it is to pay attention to your carbohydrate consumption. When you eat carbs, your body turns it into sugar, directly impacting your blood sugar levels.

Since fruit tends to be rich in carbs — primarily the simple sugars, glucose and fructose — does it have a place in a diabetes eating plan?

The answer is yes, fruit is an excellent way to get nutrition while satisfying your sweet tooth, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The ADA advises you to count fruit as a carb in your meal plan.

The best choice is fresh fruit, according to the ADA. They also recommend frozen or canned fruit that does not have added sugars. Check the food labels for added sugar, and be aware that sugar has many different names on labels. This includes cane sugar, invert sugar, corn sweetener, dextran, and high fructose corn syrup.

Recommended fresh fruits include:

A published in the British Medical Journal concluded that the consumption of whole fruits, apples, blueberries, and grapes is significantly associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The Mayo Clinic indicates that a serving size depends on the fruit’s carb content. One serving of fruit contains about 15 grams of carbs.

Fruit servings that have about 15 grams of carbs include:

  • 1 small piece of fresh fruit (4 ounces)
  • ½ cup of canned or frozen fruit (no sugar added)
  • 2 teaspoons of dry fruit such as dried cherries or raisins

Other serving sizes that have about 15 grams of carbs include:

One-third to one-half cup of fruit juice is about 15 grams of carbs.

The research results about fruit juice and diabetes are mixed:

  • A that tracked thousands of people over a number of years concluded that the greater consumption of fruit juices is significantly associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • A of random controlled trials suggested that the consumption of 100 percent fruit juice is not associated with increased risk of diabetes. However, the study also notes that more detailed research is needed to understand the effect of 100 percent fruit juice on regulation and maintenance of blood glucose levels.

The ADA recommends only drinking juice in small portions — about 4 ounces or less a day. They also recommend checking the label to be sure it’s 100 percent fruit juice with no added sugar.

In general, eating whole fruit with dietary fiber is recommended over juice. The fiber in whole fruit delays digestion. This delay will not only help you feel full, but it will also not spike blood sugar levels as quickly as if you had consumed the fruit in juice form.

Fruit can and should be a part of your diabetes diet. But pay attention to portion control — about 15 grams per serving — and make sure to count the fruit as a carb in your meal plan.

Good nutrition is an important diabetes care tool. If you have diabetes, a customized meal plan can help balance carb intake and medications to control your blood sugar level.