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Fruit Eating Guide for Diabetics

Are there really bad fruits or fruits that should be avoided if one is diabetic? The truth is, all fruits may be allowed in a diabetic diet. What is more important to consider, however, is the total amount of carbohydrate intake per serving size of the fruit. Some fruits contain more carbohydrates in a gram per gram comparison.

For example, each of the following portions of fruits contain 10 grams of carbohydrates: 1/2 cup of ripe mango cubed, one cup watermelon, 1 1/4 cups strawberry, 1 1/3 cups melon, or one piece banana (latundan) 3 1/2 inches long and one inch round.

Fruits vary in carbohydrate content. This might be the reason why some fruits are so labeled as “sweet” fruits. All fruits are good for diabetics because of the vitamins and fiber that can be obtained from them, but for good blood glucose management, portions must be controlled.

Fruits and Blood Glucose Level Glucose is the simplest form of sugar, which is found in blood. Glucose can come from food largely from starches, grains like rice, root crops, breads, vegetables, and fruits. But the sugars present in these foods are called complex sugars because they still have to be transformed into its simplest form to become blood sugar or glucose. So, the sugar in fruits, being in complex form, will not have a fast effect on the blood sugar. But yes, fruits contribute to blood sugar or blood glucose level.

What about the concept of glycemic index (GI)? Dr. David J. Jenkins and colleagues, including Dr. Tom Wolever, developed the concept in 1980 fol 981 at the University of Toronto in their research to find out which foods were best for people with diabetes.

The research says that some food become blood sugar faster than others, so it is better for those with diabetes to eat more of the foods that take a longer time to become blood sugar or those with low GI. Since then, the GI concept gained many followers.

However, due to the limitation of the study on the factors that affect GI of food like processing, type of starch, fiber content, ripeness, fat or acid content of a food or meal, and the physical form of the food, most dietitians advocate the calculation of the total carbohydrate allowance of a person per day or the “exchange meal plan” in a diabetic diet. Fruits are considered part of the carbohydrates allowance.

Generally, an average Filipino may be allowed three servings of fresh fruits distributed during the day. A serving on the average is the size of a tennis ball, but for better appreciation of the inherent sweetness of the fruit, a tool called Food Exchange List is very useful. Here you will find the exact measurement of the food as you exchange them with one another.
As was mentioned earlier, 1/2 cup ripe mango may be exchanged with 1 1/4 cup strawberries or 1 piece of latundan. It is better to take a variety of fruits. If the skin of the fruit is edible, eat the skin because the fiber in the skin delays the conversion of the fruit sugar to becoming blood sugar.

Fruit juices are at times taken as alternatives to fresh fruits. Ideally, around three cups of fresh fruit will be needed to produce a glass of fresh fruit juice. Drinking a glass of fresh fruit juice means you are eating the day’s three fruit allowances in one sitting.

Too much carbohydrate taken in at a single time may spike blood sugar. It is oversimplification if we say that one fruit causes rapid rise in blood sugar, while another does not. Remember that the total carbohydrate intake causes the increase. According to Harvard School of Public Health, the acidity or the fat content of a food or meal likewise delays food sugar conversion to blood sugar.

Recommended Fruit Serving Sizes
Children with diabetes are encouraged to have three servings of fresh fruits per day. A serving would likewise be on the average: 1 tennis ball size or 1 cup fresh fruit or 1/2 cup fresh fruit juice. Choose a variety of fruits with attractive colors especially for children. If the diabetic child is not much into fruits, you may incorporate them in salads or main dishes.

For instance, put whole grapes in macaroni salad, or make a fresh fruit compote. a variety of fruits in one cup portion and artificially sweetened with a twist of lemon or calamansi. Moreover, fruits taken fresh are at its best, so as much as possible, avoid candied or glazed fruits. Three key words to go by are balance, variety, and moderation.

Each person is unique. In order for you to know how fruit works in your body, take this challenge. Get your blood glucose reading and find out your personal response to the effect of specific fruits in your body.

First check the serving size of the fruit (e.g. 1/2 cup ripe mango cubed), eat your fruit, and check your blood glucose level about one and a half to two hours later. Have a record of your readings. Soon, you will be able to identify which fruit is good for your blood sugar.

Ask your endocrinologist to refer you to a nutritionist-dietitian for nutrition consult and personalized diet calculation. Fruit is good, enjoy it…. BUT mind the portions.

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