Fruits do contain natural sugars, primarily in the form of fructose, which can impact blood sugar levels. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all fruits are bad for people with diabetes. The key is to choose fruits that have a lower glycaemic index (GI) rating and are rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals, as these factors can help mitigate the impact of their natural sugars on blood sugar levels.
Top 20 Fruits for Diabetic Patients
- Berries: Berries, including strawberries and blackberries, are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fibre. They have a low glycaemic index (GI) and can help regulate blood sugar levels due to their high fibre content 1.
- Amla: Amla or Indian gooseberry is regarded as one of the best fruits for diabetes in Ayurveda and is even used as an ingredient in various Ayurvedic medicines. Amla is low in calories and high in fibre, vitamin C, and antioxidants that can help lower blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and inflammation, thereby protecting against cardiovascular complications linked to diabetes 2,3.
- Apples: Apples provide dietary fibre and vitamins that can help to slow down sugar absorption. Choose varieties with lower GI like Granny Smith apples.
- Bael: Bael or wood apple is a hard-shelled fruit that is widely used in Ayurveda for treating various ailments. It’s among the best fruits for diabetic patients in India because it has a low GI (20) and GL (2)1 and is high in fibre, vitamin C, calcium and antioxidants that can help lower blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels and inflammation. Bael also contains tannins, a type of polyphenol that can inhibit the absorption of glucose and reduce postprandial blood sugar levels 4.
- Oranges: Oranges are one of the best fruits for diabetes patients, as they have a low GI (40) and GL (4). They are also high in vitamin C, folate, potassium and fibre that can help boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, and prevent anemia. Oranges also contain a type of soluble fibre called pectin that can slow down the absorption of sugar and lowers postprandial blood sugar levels 5.
- Grapes: Grapes contain natural compounds that may benefit heart health and help manage blood sugar levels. Consume in moderation due to their natural sugar content.
- Jamun: Jamun or black plum should be a top choice of fruits for diabetes patients in India. The fruit has a low GI (24) and GL (3) and is rich in anthocyanins, ellagic acid and hydrolysable tannins that have anti-diabetic effects. Jamun can help reduce blood sugar levels, improve insulin secretion and prevent diabetic complications 6.
- Guava: Guava is rich in dietary fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants. It has a low GI and may help regulate blood sugar levels.
- Apricots: Apricots are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as fibre. Opt for fresh or dried apricots without added sugars.
- Cantaloupes: Cantaloupes are melons that have a moderate GI (65) but a low GL (4). They are also high in vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene and antioxidants that can help prevent eye problems, infections and oxidative stress in people with diabetes. Research also suggests that cantaloupes may protect against diabetes-induced kidney damage 7.
- Papaya: Papaya is rich in vitamin C, fibre, and enzymes that aid digestion. It has a moderate GI and may have potential benefits for blood sugar control.
- Sitaphal: Custard apple or Sitaphal is a creamy and sweet fruit that is native to India. Custard apple has a moderate GI (54) but a low GL (6) and is high in fibre, vitamin C, magnesium and antioxidants that can help improve digestion, immunity and nerve function. Custard apple also contains phytochemicals that can modulate the activity of insulin receptors and glucose transporters and improve glucose metabolism 8.
- Cranberries: Cranberries are known for their urinary tract health benefits and contain antioxidants 9. As people with diabetes have a higher risk of UTIs, including cranberries in your diet would be a good idea. Just make sure to choose unsweetened cranberry products.
- Pomegranates: Pomegranates are loaded with antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. They may contribute to improved insulin sensitivity.
- Pineapples: Pineapples are another melon that have a moderate GI (66) but a low GL (6). They are also rich in vitamin C, manganese, bromelain and antioxidants that can help improve the immune system, bone health, wound healing and inflammation of diabetes patients 10. Pineapples also contain natural sugars called fructooligosaccharides that can act as prebiotics and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
- Lemons and Limes: These citrus fruits are low in sugar and can add flavour to foods and beverages without significantly affecting blood sugar levels.
- Figs: Figs are a good source of fibre and essential minerals. Consume them in moderation due to their natural sugar content.
- Aloo Bukhara: Aloo Bukhara or prunes are dried plums that have a moderate GI (29) but a high GL (10). They are also high in fibre, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants that can help lower cholesterol, improve blood clotting and prevent oxidative stress in people with diabetes. Prunes also contain sorbitol, a natural sugar alcohol that does not raise blood sugar levels as much as other sugars.
- Dates: Dates are another dried fruit that have a moderate GI (62) but a low GL (7). They are also rich in fibre, iron, potassium and antioxidants that can help prevent anaemia, hypertension and oxidative damage in people with diabetes. Dates also contain phytochemicals that can modulate the activity of insulin receptors and glucose transporters, improving glucose metabolism 11.
- Tadgolas: Ice apples have a low glycaemic index (GI) of 24 and a low glycaemic load (GL) of 3, making them one of the safest fruits for diabetics in India. They are also rich in fibre, vitamin C, calcium and antioxidants that can help lower blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels and inflammation, providing hydration, nutrition and satiety without causing blood sugar spikes 12.
Remember that portion control and monitoring blood sugar levels are important for managing diabetes. It’s always recommended to consult a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized dietary advice. The glycaemic index values provided are approximate and can vary based on factors such as ripeness and preparation.
What is the glycaemic index for fruits?
The glycaemic index measures how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels. Foods with a high GI cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, while those with a low GI result in a slower, more gradual increase. Opt for fruits with a low to moderate GI to help keep blood sugar levels stable.
Anything to keep in mind when eating fruits?
Even though a fruit may be diabetes-friendly, portion control is important. Consuming large quantities of any fruit can still lead to a significant intake of natural sugars. Moderation is key.
Can I eat frozen or canned fruits?
Avoid fruits that have been processed or canned in sugary syrup, as this adds unnecessary sugars. Choose fresh, frozen, or canned fruits in natural juices or water.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is for general information and not meant to substitute any medical advice. Please consult your doctor for appropriate medical consultation.