Oranges are a nutrient-rich fruit for people with diabetes. But aside from their general health benefits and being high in vitamin C, oranges contain carbohydrates and may raise blood sugar.

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If you have diabetes, you may wonder whether oranges are safe to eat.

That’s because people with diabetes have to keep a careful eye on their blood sugar levels, which are affected by their diet. In fact, diet, exercise, and medications are the best ways to keep your blood sugar levels in check.

There’s a common misconception that fruits — including oranges — are bad for people with diabetes and shouldn’t be eaten.

In actuality, oranges can be a healthy part of a diabetes-friendly diet. However, you may have to moderate your intake.

This article explains how oranges affect people with diabetes.

Oranges are bursting with good nutrition thanks to their fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When eaten in moderation, this citrus fruit is a nutritious option for people with diabetes.

Low glycemic index

The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly foods affect your blood sugars after a meal. Eating foods that have a low GI may improve blood sugar management.

High GI foods, which may cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, include dried fruits, refined breakfast cereals, and white bread.

Since oranges have a low GI, they trigger a slow rise in your blood sugar levels, making them more favorable for people with diabetes.

Still, GI isn’t the only factor to consider when managing your blood sugar. Your body’s blood sugar response also depends on pairings with other foods like healthy fats or proteins.


Fiber goes undigested in your gut and has many health benefits, including disease prevention and management. In particular, fiber-rich foods may improve blood sugar management.

A medium-sized orange boasts 4 grams (g) of fiber.

In a 2020 review and meta-analysis of 44 clinical studies involving people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, researchers found a higher fiber diet to be an important component of diabetes management.

They found it shows improvements in measures of:

  • glycemic control
  • blood lipids
  • body weight
  • inflammation

Researchers also noted that a higher fiber diet contributed to a reduction in premature mortality and hemoglobin A1C, a marker of blood sugar regulation.

Fiber slows the rise of blood sugar levels after a meal by delaying the emptying of your stomach and lengthening the time it takes for food to move through your digestive tract.

Vitamins and minerals

Oranges contain numerous vitamins and minerals that may be particularly beneficial for people with diabetes.

A medium-sized orange contains about 91% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C. This vitamin also functions as an antioxidant. These are molecules that combat oxidative stress in your body.

Notably, elevated blood sugar levels give rise to oxidative stress, which may cause cellular damage and diabetes complications. If you have diabetes, you may have an increased need for vitamin C to help reverse oxidative stress.

A medium-sized orange also supplies 12% of the DV for folate. Although results vary, studies suggest this mineral may lower insulin levels and improve insulin resistance.

Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels, while insulin resistance is a condition in which your body stops responding to insulin.

Finally, oranges contain 6% of the DV for potassium. Low potassium levels may lead to insulin resistance.


Flavonoid antioxidants have several benefits for people with diabetes, including combatting inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance, as well as increasing insulin sensitivity.

Notably, oranges are one of the most readily available sources of flavonoid antioxidants.

Furthermore, blood oranges boast anthocyanins, a subclass of flavonoids common to red, purple, or blue fruits and vegetables. Research suggests that these compounds may fight oxidative stress, heart disease, and inflammation.


Oranges have several benefits for people with diabetes due to their low GI and nutrient profile, which includes fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium, and antioxidants.

There are no downsides to eating whole oranges if you have diabetes.

In fact, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) encourages people with diabetes to eat citrus fruits like oranges.

What about other orange products?

All the same, you may need to moderate your intake of other orange products if you have diabetes.

Orange juice

Although 100% orange juice provides several vitamins and minerals, it lacks fiber, which is essential for blood sugar regulation.

If your blood sugars fall too low, a condition known as hypoglycemia, a 4-ounce (120-mL) serving of orange juice may bring them back to expected levels.

Canned mandarin oranges

The ADA recommends buying canned oranges in juice rather than syrup to limit your intake of added sugar.

You can also look for phrases on the can, such as “no added sugars” or “unsweetened,” to help you make the best choice.


If you have diabetes, it’s best to moderate your intake of orange juice and buy canned oranges that are packaged in juice. In general, whole oranges are a better choice because of their fiber content.

If you have diabetes, you can strive to eat a variety of whole fruits, including oranges. Fruit plays a critical role in a nutritious, balanced diet.

Whole oranges provide a broad spectrum of essential nutrients needed for blood sugar regulation and may be your first choice over 100% fruit juice.

How many should you eat?

To keep your blood sugar level within a standard range, healthcare professionals recommend you find what range of carbohydrate intake works best for you in terms of your lifestyle and long-term sustainability.

Due to differences in body size and activity level, there’s no magic number for how many oranges you can have.

Still, you can safely eat several servings of oranges per day, bearing in mind that one serving of carbs is 15 g.

A single serving of various orange products is:

  • 1/2 cup (123 g) of canned mandarin oranges
  • a medium-sized (154 g) orange
  • 4 ounces (120 mL) of 100% orange juice

The number of carbs needed at each meal and snack varies by body size and activity level. You could plan to eat around the same number of carbs at meals and snacks to keep your blood sugar levels steady.

For a meal plan that meets your individual needs, consult a registered dietitian (RD) or certified diabetes educator.


People with diabetes can eat oranges as part of a balanced diet. To help manage your blood sugar levels, you can find what range of carbohydrate intake works best for you in terms of your lifestyle and long-term sustainability.

Below are some commonly asked questions about diabetes and fruit.

Do oranges raise your blood sugar?

Oranges have a low GI, meaning they trigger a slow rise in your blood sugar levels. This makes them a favorable fruit to eat for people with diabetes.

What is the best fruit to eat for those with diabetes?

If you have diabetes, healthcare professionals encourage a moderate intake of whole fruits as part of a healthy diet. However, you may be wary of dried fruits, canned fruits with added sugar, and fruit juices.

Should people with diabetes eat oranges and bananas?

You may be under the impression that fruit is off-limits if you have diabetes due to its sugar content. But the sugar in whole fruit may not be the type of sugar you need to cut down on.

You can enjoy oranges and bananas in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

How quickly will orange juice raise blood sugar?

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), your body quickly absorbs simple carbohydrates (like those found in fruit juice), and they can raise blood sugar within 15 minutes.

As a general rule, if you have diabetes, it’s best to avoid drinking orange juice. The reason is that your blood sugar levels will increase very quickly due to the high sugar content.

If you have diabetes, eating a variety of fruits, like oranges, is good for your health.

Whole oranges may keep your blood sugar levels steady due to their low GI, fiber content, and other nutrients. In particular, their vitamin and antioxidant content may fight inflammation, heart disease, and oxidative stress resulting from high blood sugar.

In general, it’s better to eat whole oranges rather than drink orange juice.

If you need help including oranges in your meal plan, consult an RD or certified diabetes educator.