Are apples good for people with diabetes?
Are the sugars and carbohydrates in an apple good or bad for diabetic who has high blood sugar and insulin levels?
Apples contain a different kind of sugar to foods with added sugar, and they also contain fiber and nutrients. A person with diabetes should be aware of how apples affect them in order to include this fruit in a diet.
People with diabetes must watch their intake of carbohydrate to ensure their blood sugar levels remain stable throughout the day. Therefore, it is wise to screen any foods that contain carbs and sugars.
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are about 25 grams (g) of carbs in total in a medium-sized apple, and around 19 g of that is sugar.
Most of the sugar in an apple is in the form of naturally occurring fructose, however, and this may have a different effect on the body than other sugars. A recent study posted to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that replacing glucose or sucrose with fructose led to less sugar and insulin in the blood stream after a meal.
The USDA report that a medium apple contains around 4 g of dietary fiber, and this fiber may help slow the absorption of sugars in the body, which could help prevent spikes in sugar and insulin.
Also pairing fruits with a healthy fat or protein can lower the spike in blood sugar and cause a person to feel fuller for longer.
Apples may have a relatively low effect on the insulin and blood sugar levels in the body and are seen as a low-glycemic fruit suitable for people with diabetes.
Benefits of Eating Apples
One medium apple contains around 100 calories, 25 g of carbohydrates, and nearly 20 percent of the daily recommended value for fiber. The flesh and skin of apples contain water, vitamins A and C, and other antioxidants and trace minerals.
A person feels fuller after eating an apple due to the combination of fiber, water, and nutrients. This may be why so many people enjoy apples as quick snacks to hold them over between meals.
Specific flavonoids, such as quercetin found in apples may protect a person from diabetes. A review from 2011 reports that eating apples is associated with a lowered risk of diabetes.11
Diabetes and other fruits
A diet rich in vegetables and fruits is beneficial for everyone, and certain fruits provide more benefits than others, particularly for a person with diabetes. Eating fruits in their whole, raw form provides the most benefits because when the fruit is processed, the fibers, antioxidants, and other nutrients may be reduced.
Berries and cherries
Like apples, cherries contain quercetin, which may be beneficial for a person with diabetes. They are naturally high in antioxidants, flavonoids, and nutrients which helps boost the body’s immune system and overall health. Berries and cherries to go for include blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, tart cherries, grapes and currants.
It is possible to buy berries fresh or frozen. Dried versions may be less filling but are also a healthy option, though someone with diabetes should look out for fruit products that have sugar added, as this is not always obvious.
Any fruit should be fine for a person with diabetes, as long as they do not have an allergy.
The American Diabetes Association recommend the following fruits for people who are using the glycemic index in their food choices:
- cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew melons
- citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, oranges, and tangerines
- stone fruits, including apricots, plums, and peaches
A person should monitor how different fruits affect their symptoms and blood sugar, as each person’s sensitivities may be different.
What about fruit juices?
Fruit juices that contain 100 percent real fruit should be okay for a person with diabetes, though they may wish to limit their intake, as fruit juices may contain a higher concentration of sugar and less fiber than fresh fruits. This can cause a higher spike in blood sugar. To be on the safe side, squeeze fruits yourself to prepare juice.
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Four ounces of fruit juice contains about 15 g of carbohydrates. Being mindful of total carbohydrate intake during the meal is important to manage diabetes, and including fruit juice in your carbohydrate tracking is essential. Fruit juices with added sugars should strictly be avoided.