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The Best and Worst Fruits for Prediabetes: A Comprehensive Guide


Fruit is a great option for when you're in the mood for something sweet. And fruit is not only delicious but is also packed with essential nutrients that our bodies need to stay healthy. But the way fruit affects blood sugar varies widely. Understanding the impact of different fruits on blood sugar levels is crucial for people managing their blood sugar, especially those with prediabetes.

Ever wondered why some fruits send your blood sugar soaring while others keep it steady? The secret lies in factors like the amount of sugar, fiber content, glycemic index, and glycemic load. Understanding these elements can help you make smarter choices for your health and energy levels.

Fiber in fruit

Fruits are packed with different types of fiber that are great for our health. There are two main types of fiber found in fruits: soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and helps with digestion, and insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to your stool and helps keep things moving smoothly.

Some examples of fruits high in fiber include apples, berries, and oranges. These fruits contain a mix of both soluble and insoluble fiber, making them a great choice for a healthy diet.

Amount of sugar in fruit

When it comes to fruit, sugar content can vary depending on the type of fruit you're munching on. Most whole fruit contains three natural sugars--fructose, glucose, and sucrose. All of these can increase blood sugar if eaten in excess. It's most important to understand the total amount of sugar when considering how a particular fruit will impact blood sugar.

Glycemic Load and Glycemic Index

Glycemic load and glycemic index are two terms often used in nutrition to measure the impact of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. The glycemic index (GI) ranks foods based on how quickly they raise blood sugar levels. On the other hand, the glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality and quantity of carbohydrates in a serving of food.

For example, an apple has a medium GI but a low GL because it contains fiber which slows down the absorption of sugar. On the other hand, watermelon has a high GI but a low GL per serving as it contains mostly water.

Understanding both glycemic load and glycemic index of different fruits can help you make better food choices for managing blood sugar levels effectively.

Other Factors that Affect a Fruit's Impact on Blood Sugar

The Ripeness of the Fruit. As fruit matures, its starches are converted to sugar and will have a higher GI than unripe fruit. Fruits like berries, citrus, and grapes stop ripening once they're picked. But fruits like bananas, kiwis, pears, peaches, and nectarines will continue to ripen as they sit (storing fruit in the refrigerator does slow down the ripening process). Eating these "climacteric fruits" sooner rather than later can decrease the amount of sugar you consume.

How You Consume Fruit. Eating whole fresh fruit is the best option for blood sugar balance. Dried fruit, although convenient, is easy to overeat because it's small and compact. Blending fruit into a smoothie breaks down its fiber which will cause quicker absorption of sugar. Juicing fruit will have the biggest impact on blood sugar because it removes nearly all of the fiber, leaving only the sugary juice. Pass on that option!

What You Pair With Fruit. As with any food item, what you include with fruit will affect whether it causes a blood sugar spike. Adding fat, protein or fiber will slow down digestion and absorption. Good options include yogurt, cheese, nuts, nut butters, seeds and avocado.

When You Eat Fruit. Blood sugar is more likely to spike if you consume carbohydrates first. Research has shown that saving carbohydrate-rich food for last helps prevent blood sugar spikes in diabetics.

Amount. Portion size matters. There will be a big difference between consuming a few grapes versus a bowl of fruit salad. It's important to keep in mind total carbohydrate consumption.

Individual Factors. Things like stress levels, quality and quantity of the previous night's sleep, and how active a person is can also affect how fruit affects blood sugar. The best way to know how fruit affects YOU is to measure blood sugar with a glucometer or continuous glucose monitor.

The Best Fruit Options For Prediabetes

Keeping all of the above in mind, these are the best fruits to consume that will help balance blood sugar:

Raspberries, 1/2 cup

  • Sugar: 2.7 grams

  • Fiber: 4 grams

  • Glycemic index: 32

  • Levels Zone score: 7.0 (paired with yogurt: 8.5)*

  • Avg glucose rise: 22 mg/dL

Orange, 1 medium fruit

  • Sugar: 12 grams

  • Fiber: 2.8 grams

  • Glycemic index: 43

  • Levels Zone Score: 6.2 (Grapefruit: 6.6)

  • Avg glucose rise: 27 mg/dL

Apple, 1 medium fruit

  • Sugar: 19 grams

  • Fiber: 4.4 grams

  • Glycemic index: 36

  • Levels Zone score: 6.5-7 (with peanut or almond butter: 7.5)

  • Avg glucose rise: 27 mg/dL

Kiwi, 1 fruit

  • Sugar: 6.7 grams

  • Fiber: 2.3 grams

  • Glycemic index: 52

  • Levels Zone score: 6.5

  • Avg glucose rise 26 mg/dL

Coconut, 1 ounce unsweetened flakes

  • Sugar: 2 grams

  • Fiber: 4.6 grams

  • Glycemic index: 42

  • Levels zone score: 8

  • Avg glucose rise: 17 mg/dL

The Fruits to Avoid or Limit

The following fruits will impact blood sugar the most, so limit these as much as possible or combine with plenty of fiber, protein and healthy fat to slow down the damage.

Bananas, 1 medium fruit

  • Sugar: 14.4 grams

  • Fiber: 3.1 grams

  • Glycemic index: 51

  • Levels zone score: 5.7  (with peanut butter: 7.3)

  • Avg glucose rise: 34 mg/dL

Grapes, 1 cup (green)

  • Sugar: 23.4 grams

  • Fiber: 1.4 grams

  • Glycemic index: 54

  • Levels Zone score: 5.1

  • Avg glucose rise: 38 mg/dL

Mangos, 1 cup

  • Sugar: 22.6 grams

  • Fiber: 2.6 grams

  • Glycemic index: 51

  • Levels Zone score: 6

  • Avg glucose rise: 32 mg/dL

Pineapple, 1 cup

  • Sugar: 16.3 grams

  • Fiber: 2.3 grams

  • Glycemic index: 59

  • Levels Zone score: 5.6

  • Avg glucose rise: 34 mg/dL

Medjool dates, 1 date

  • Sugar: 16 grams

  • Fiber: 1.6 grams

  • Glycemic index: 55

  • Levels Zone score: 5.5

  • Avg glucose rise: 35 mg/dL

In conclusion, it's all about finding that sweet spot (pun intended!) when it comes to incorporating fruits into your diet to maintain optimal blood sugar levels. While fruits are packed with essential nutrients and fiber, which are beneficial for overall health, it's important to be mindful of the natural sugars they contain.

By choosing a variety of low-glycemic fruits and pairing them with protein or healthy fats, you can help slow down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, preventing spikes in blood sugar levels. Finding the right balance is key to enjoying the goodness of fruits without causing unwanted fluctuations in your blood sugar.

And most important, moderation is key! Listen to your body and track your individual reaction if possible. By being mindful of what you eat and how it affects your blood sugar, you can empower yourself to make informed choices for a healthier lifestyle.


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