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The Best Fruit for People with Diabetes (and What to Avoid)

Is fruit OK for people with diabetes? Packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, fruit gets a green light from dietitians.

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Hands Of Woman Cutting PomegranateLuxy Images/RF/Getty Images

Which Fruit Is Best for People with Diabetes?

Despite what people often think, all fruit is good for people with diabetes. If fact, dietitians and diabetes educators recommend eating fresh fruit!

Even though fruit is a natural source of sugar, it’s also packed with fiber—a type of carbohydrate that helps keep blood sugar steady. Plus, fruit is nutritionally dense, meaning it’s loaded with important vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium and vitamin C. The extra dose of these nutrients is likely one of the reasons people who regularly eat fruit have extra protection against heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.

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fruits for diabetics blueberry smoothiedenio109/Shutterstock

Blueberries

Nutrition Facts

1 cup blueberries: 84 calories, 21 g carbohydrates (4g fiber, 15g sugar)

High in water and low in carbohydrates, blueberries are definitely a diabetes-friendly pick. Blueberries get their deep blue-purple color from anthocyanins, potent antioxidants that may help prevent heart disease. Just keep the 1-cup serving in mind when you try fresh blueberries in this spinach blueberry salad or blend frozen ones into a berry smoothie. When they’re out of season, choose frozen varieties—just double-check the ingredient list to make sure there’s no added sugar. By the way, these are the best meats for diabetics.

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fruits for diabetics Bananas on a wooden picnic tablePTstock/Shutterstock

Bananas

Nutrition Facts

1 small banana: 90 calories, 23 g carbohydrates, (3g fiber, 12g sugar)

Are bananas OK for people with diabetes? Absolutely. Bananas can fit as a healthy choice, as long as you eat one small banana or half a medium banana to help keep blood sugars in check. You can use bananas to add natural sweetness to green smoothies or this peanut butter banana oatmeal.

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fruits for diabetics avocado and Sliced avocado slices on wooden boardMK photograp55/Shutterstock

Avocados

Nutrition Facts

1/3 medium avocado: 73 calories, 12g carbohydrates (9g fiber, 1g sugar)

Avocados—yep, they’re a fruit—are low in carbohydrates and a great choice for people with diabetes. The healthy fats and other nutrients in avocados may also help with heart health, which is important since people living with diabetes have a higher heart disease risk. Just be sure to exercise portion control with this creamy, delicious base for spreads and dips and more! Find the best vegetables for diabetics, too.

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fruits for diabetics Ripe raspberries in a bowl on an old wooden table.Elena Blokhina/Shutterstock

Raspberries

Nutrition Facts

1 cup raspberries: 64 calories, 15g carbohydrates (8g fiber, 5g sugar)

With 8 grams of fiber per cup, raspberries are an excellent addition to any diabetes meal plan. According to one study, red raspberries may even help people with prediabetes achieve better blood sugar control. Enjoy fresh raspberries as a snack or on top of Greek yogurt for an easy breakfast, among other prediabetic recipes.

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fruits for diabetics Juicy washed strawberries in wooden bowl on kitchen table.Marian Weyo/Shutterstock

Strawberries

Nutrition Facts

1 cup strawberries: 64 calories, 15g carbohydrates (8g fiber, 5g sugar)

With a generous 1-1/4 cup serving, strawberries are packed with potassium, folate and other nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease and diabetes. Enjoy a bowl of fresh strawberries, whip up a healthy smoothie or puree them into a saucy topping for whole wheat pancakes.

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fruits for diabetics Deluxe blackberries in bowl on wooden background.RomarioIen/Shutterstock

Blackberries

Nutrition Facts

3/4 cup blackberries: 45 calories, 11g carbohydrates, (6g fiber, 5g sugar)

Packed with antioxidants, blackberries are an excellent source of fiber to help keep blood sugars in check. You’ll get similar benefits from fresh or frozen berries. Each 3/4-cup serving is perfect for a snack or as a sweet-tart addition to this balsamic spinach salad.

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fruits for diabetics Close up of a bowl of apple slices on a wooden table.PageSeven/Shutterstock

Apples

Nutrition Facts

1 small apple: 78 calories, 12g carbohydrates (4g fiber, 16g sugar)

An apple a day keeps the stroke away? Maybe! Research suggests that white fruits may be linked to lower stroke risk. Carry apples as an on-the-go snack or make a healthy apple crisp for dessert. Just be sure to eat apples with the skin on since peeling them reduces appetite-suppressing and blood sugar dampening fiber by 75%!

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fruits for diabetics Fruit background. Fresh organic pears on old wood.Adriana Nikolova/Shutterstock

Pears

Nutrition Facts

1 small pear: 84 calories, 23g carbohydrates (5g fiber, 14g sugar)

Pears are an excellent source of fiber, making them a great choice for people with diabetes. One medium ripe pear serves up a sweet treat without the blood sugar spike. Pair fresh pears with sharp cheddar cheese and add them to your list of quick and tasty diabetes-friendly snack ideas. One warning: Always opt for fresh versions over canned, which are traditionally packed in a syrupy liquid that ramps up the sugar content.

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fruits for diabetics fresh, juicy, orange on a wooden backgroundAndrelix/Shutterstock

Oranges

Nutrition Facts

1 small Florida orange: 65 calories, 16g carbohydrates (3g fiber, 13g sugar)

Known to be high in vitamin C, oranges are also a good source of fiber. One small orange makes a convenient snack or a gorgeous addition to salads. Similarly, half a grapefruit is a good option for people with diabetes, too. Either way, be sure to eat the fruit rather than drink the juice to avoid blood sugar spikes!

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Pomegranate Fruit On Cut Boardpjohnson1/Getty Images

Pomegranates

Nutrition Facts

1/2 cup pomegranate arils: 73 calories, 16g carbohydrates (3g fiber, 12g sugar)

The juicy, ruby red seeds found in this festive fruit are loaded with phytochemicals such as flavonoids and polyphenols, which are known to have a myriad of benefits including reducing insulin resistance. Toss them into smoothies or salads for a crunchy pop of tartness, color and flavor.

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fruits for diabetics Sliced fresh kiwi fruit on wood tablePhoto by Cathy Scola/Getty Images

Kiwis

Nutrition Facts

1 small kiwifruit: 61 calories, 15g carbohydrates (3g fiber, 9g sugar)

One of the richest sources of immune-boosting vitamin C, these green orbs are also high in blood-sugar-stabilizing fiber and low on the glycemic index—two reasons why one study found they help to lower blood sugar spikes after eating a bowl of carbohydrate-rich cereal.

Kiwis are linked to a list of other benefits for people with diabetes, too, including bringing down blood pressure.

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fruits for diabetics Close up of a group of female friends having a healthy meal after a yoga workoutMarko Geber/Getty Images

Which Fruit Should Be Avoided by People with Diabetes?

Great news! The idea that some fruits are “off-limits” to people with diabetes is a myth. All fresh fruits are a healthy option, according to the American Diabetes Association.

What does matter is the form you eat them in. People with diabetes should avoid fruit juice (unless they take insulin and are using it to correct a low), for example. Juice contains no protein, fiber or fat and thus it’s considered a concentrated sweet (like candy) and is known to make blood sugar skyrocket. You also want to avoid dried fruit.

Keep blood sugar more stable by enjoying whole fruit instead.

Up Next: Type 2 Diabetes: How It Affects Your Diet

Amelia Sherry, MPH, RD, CDN, CDCES
Amelia Sherry is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator in Hasting-on-Hudson, New York. She writes about eating, foods, nutrition, parenting, and women. Her work has been published in Reader's Digest, Family Circle, Self, Redbook, Latina, Woman's World, Today's Dietitian, among other publications. She earned a MPH in Nutrition from CUNY School of Public Health.

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