Should people with diabetes avoid eating all fruits? A dietician busts myths
While a lot of fruits have low GI (Glycaemic index), many people with diabetes are wary about having them regularly as they are sweet in taste.
While diabetes can often limit your food options, on a brighter side, it also makes you mindful about the portions and the nutritional content of what you consume, so you can make healthy choices for yourself. If managed effectively with regular exercise, proper diet and certain lifestyle changes, diabetes can be tackled with ease.
For the uninitiated, diabetes is a disease that occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin or can't use it effectively. If not managed well, it could lead to serious health problems from heart diseases, kidney trouble, stroke to lower limb amputation.
Now coming back to food choices for diabetics, it is recommended that they have food with low GI (glycaemic index). GI is basically a rating of foods on a scale from 1 to 100. The score indicates how quickly the food item may raise blood sugar levels. Low GI foods are absorbed slower while high GI foods can raise sugar levels rapidly.
While a lot of fruits have low GI, many people with diabetes are wary about having them regularly as they are sweet in taste.
Can people with diabetes have fruits?
"It's a myth that diabetics or kidney patients can't have fruits. Diabetes patients can consume fruits like apple, pear, papaya, pomegranate, sweet lime, orange, phalsa, guava, watermelon, muskmelon, berries and jamun. Fruits contain fructose sugar but at the same they also contain calories so one needs to adjust them in their meal plan according to the individual's calorie requirement," says Shruti Bharadwaj, Senior Clinical Dietician, Narayana Hrudayalaya Multispeciality Hospital Ahmedabad.
Have whole fruit, not fruit juices
Fruits are rich in fibre and vitamins which are essential for people with diabetes. Fibre plays an important role in slowing down the absorption of sugar and controlling its levels. So, it is advised to have a whole fruit instead of juice so that vitamin and fibre are not lost.
"Fruit juices should be avoided by diabetics as they do not have enough fibre. Also, when eating fruits, they should not be combined with meals and should ideally be taken as evening snack," says Bharadwaj.
Have it in moderation
While fruits with low GI are safe to be consumed by people with diabetes, one should avoid having them in excess. Portions should be controlled as per the calorie requirement of an individual. "While fructose being a natural sugar has a lower glycaemic index than starch, but consuming it in excessive amount is not advisable," says Bharadwaj.
Studies have suggested that fructose consumption is ideal between the range of 25-40 gm per day, according to the dietician.
Fruits to avoid
"Avoid fruits like banana, chiku, mango, fruit juices, grapes if you have diabetes," says the expert.
Some studies also talk about the health benefits of mango for people with diabetes. "All fruits contain fructose sugar but all have a different Glycaemic index, Glycaemic load. Like Mango has a comparatively higher Glycaemic index (GI) but lower Glycaemic load so consult your dietician first how you can include mango in your meal plan," says Bharadwaj.
The ideal quantity
"1-2 fruit per day is advisable on daily basis if blood sugars levels are totally controlled. It also depends upon blood sugar and total calorie requirement," says the expert.