With over 77 million people in India affected by diabetes, most streams of medicine have come up with miracle cures and management guidelines for it. From alternative practices to certain superfoods, there are a lot of popular suggestions.
Among the propounders of all these practices, there exists a very strong opinion about fruits; they are either for it or strictly against it. Whether you choose to believe these or not, the topic of fruits and diabetes has been much debated.
Being a natural source of sugar, fruits could potentially be bad for someone whose insulin production capabilities are compromised. But on the other hand, they are great sources of necessary vitamins, minerals, fibre and even water content for the body.
So where do you draw the line and how do you make the decision on what fruits to indulge in?
Keep reading to get answers for all these questions and more.
Fruits and Diabetes – what happens in the body?
Since diabetes is a chronic condition that is closely associated with glucose and insulin production, your diet is of the utmost importance in managing the condition effectively. Even though fruits are great sources of fibre and nutrients, it is also higher in natural sugars. The glycemic index of fruits is an important factor that should be kept in mind to decide whether it should be consumed or not.
Glycemic Index is a score between 1-100 that shows how quickly a food item may raise blood sugar levels. High GI foods are absorbed faster by the body and will require more insulin. When consuming high GI food, even if they are from a natural source, the blood sugar levels will rise, leading to increased insulin requirement and thus putting stress on the body. A large number of fruits are lower in GI and can be consumed in moderation to meet your dietary goals.
But this doesn’t mean that you can consume all forms of fruits. The preparation of fruits also contributes to its GI levels. For example, fresh or frozen fruits are always better than processed fruits that are made into jams, spreads or even dried fruits and juices. Processing also removes or reduces the number of important nutrients that are beneficial.
Does this mean that I can eat all unprocessed fruits equally?
Since nature with its varied design has made fruits with different nutrient concentrations, it is important to closely analyse fruits before consuming them. Low GI fruits like apples, avocadoes, bananas, berries, cherries, grapes, citruses, plums and peaches can be eaten in larger quantities. Medium to high GI foods include mangoes, papaya, fig, melons, and pineapples. These fruits need to be portion-controlled, keeping in mind your entire calorie and the nutrient requirement for the day.
Most experts recommend five servings of fruits and vegetables for people of all ages. But it is also expected of diabetes patients to consume the majority of these in the form of vegetables. Ideally, 1-2 servings of fruit per day are best for diabetes patients. One serving can be equated to a medium-size fruit, or 1 cup, in case of smaller fruits, or diced fruits. It is also recommended that a mix of fruits are best to ensure that the body receives a mixture of healthy nutrients.
Approaching your diet with a strategic approach is the best way for a diabetes patient to manage their condition even while indulging in their favourite food items. Keeping this thought in mind, factor in your favourite fruits in relation to all the food that you plan to eat in a day. This will help you portion out your fruits, and you can indulge in these healthy and sweet items without compromising on your disease management. They are also great alternatives to more problematic food groups like desserts or junk food. Most of the time, eating a serving of fruits can satiate sudden cravings that can hinder your healthy diet plans.
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