For Blood Sugar Control Enjoy Low Glycemic Fruit in Moderation


Q. I really love eating all the fresh fruits available in the summertime. But, now that I have Type 2 diabetes I am a little confused about whether I should be including fruit in my food plan? What are the best fruits to eat, and does it matter how ripe the fruit is?

A. There are definitely different opinions among experts and nutritionists about including fruit in a food plan geared towards controlling blood sugars. In general, fresh fruits are healthy, nutritious foods that are good sources of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals.

The down-side is that fruits contain varying amounts of the sugars fructose and glucose. Eaten in excess these sugars can have negative effects on health and blood sugar control. .There is also a growing concern that many of today’s fruits are hybridized to make them sweeter, almost turning some of these fruits into junk food.

Additionally, many people think that fruit only has the sugar fructose in it and that because fructose does not cause a sharp rise in blood sugars and insulin, that you can eat as much fruit as you want. But, neither of those assumptions are correct.

Actually, fruits contain different types of sugar, including glucose and fructose. For example, a cup of raw blueberries (148 g) contains approximately 15 grams of sugar comprised of 7.2 grams of sucrose, 7.4 grams of “free” fructose and less than on gram of sucrose (a sugar comprised of bound molecules of sucrose and fructose - sucrose is the sugar most people know as “table sugar”).

When consumed, fructose goes right to the liver and triggers something called "lipogenesis" (the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol). HIGH consumption of fructose has a propensity to increase serum triglycerides, and new studies are showing a link between high fructose consumption and insulin resistance.

The bottom line when it comes to fruit:

MODERATION is the best approach. You don’t have to avoid all fruit, but be aware of both the amount and type of sugar as you make decisions about which fruits and the amount to include in your food plan. If you are insulin resistant, diabetic, have high cholesterol and/or high triglycerides, it is best to limit fruit and fructose intake. ( some experts advise limiting fructose to 15 grams a day from all sources)

As fruit ripens, the overall amount of carbohydrates does not change. But the sugar content increases as more of the starches turn to sugar. So while really ripe fruits do taste delicious, be aware that they will have a higher sugar content.

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Eat whole fruit. The fiber plays a large part in protecting you from those large sugar and insulin spikes.

Avoid fruit juices and do not add a lot of fruit to smoothies, especially ripe bananas and tropical fruits

If you want to eat apple slices, pair them with protein such as cheese, peanut or almond butter

Eat fruit lower on the glycemic index (lemons, limes, avocados, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries are good choices).

My favorite fruits in the summer are blueberries and strawberries and I eat them in a variety of ways such as in smoothies and yogurt parfaits. I will be posting more recipes in my weekly newsletter and in the Crave Control Kitchen at www.diabetescoaching.com.

You don’t have to use a lot of tropical fruits such as bananas, melons and pineapple to enjoy a delicious smoothie. Here is my go to Very Berry Smoothie recipe.

Super Berry Smoothie:

BASIC INGREDIENTS

½ - 1 cup unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (depending on thickness*) (*you can substitute other types of milk or milk alternatives based on your preference. I avoid using milk in smoothies which has lactose, a form of sugar.)

1-2 scoops of Vanilla Protein Powder ( such as Whey Protein Powder)

2 teaspoons of almond butter

½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries (If frozen I wild blueberries)

½ tsp cinnamon

4-6 Ice cubes (as desired, the more ice-cubes, the thicker the smoothie)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Pour the Almond Milk into a blender.

  • Add the remaining ingredients

  • Mix the ingredients in the blender until smooth.

Pour into a glass and enjoy!

(TIPS/OPTIONAL)

  • If you like your smoothie thinner, use more Almond Milk

  • If you like a thicker smoothie, use less liquid and/or add ½ cup Greek yogurt

  • If you like your smoothie to have a sweeter taste, add a small amount of sweetener of choice

  • Want more antioxidants? Add some frozen Acai Berry Puree (Sambazon makes an organic, unsweetened puree) Or add 1 1/2 tablespoons ground flax seed or chia seeds