Can People with Diabetes Eat Fruit?

Fruit and vegetables are always on the top of the list of the foods for a healthy diet. Unfortunately, many people with Type 2 diabetes worry that fruit may be off limits for them and don’t include this delicious choice in their daily meal plan. That’s a shame because fruit has lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body needs.

What you need to understand if you have Type 2 Diabetes is that portion size is the key to enjoying fruit, just as it is with any other carbohydrate in your meal plan. The carbohydrates in your serving of fruit (see list below) count toward your recommended carb budget per meal, as set by your doctor or diabetes educator.

As is the case with many foods, specific fruits can have different effects upon your blood sugar, so it’s important to test your glucose levels two hours after the first bite of your meal. Watch Melony’s Story to learn how she was able to eat foods she loved and still keep her blood sugar levels in range by watching her portions and understanding how certain foods affected her blood sugar.

Making good food choices starts with moderation and balance. If you have Type 2 Diabetes, fruit can and should be a part of your food plan. Here are some things to keep in mind:

#1 Choose fresh fruit whenever possible.  Whole, fresh fruit that’s in season (if you can, buy organic whenever possible) will provide you with the most nutrition and great taste too. Eat the skins for added fiber, which will help with your blood sugar levels. If you use frozen or canned fruit, be sure that no sugar has been added.

#2 Minimize dried fruit.  Dried fruit has more concentrated sugars, so if you really want to eat it, portion sizes should be small, generally 2 tbsp. per serving. If portion size is important to you, this may not be the best choice. Mix your dried fruit with nuts for a snack or add to plain yogurt or oatmeal for a tasty and easy breakfast.

#3 Avoid fruit juices. Juice can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, so if you want to enjoy an orange, have the whole fruit, not the juice.  Fruit juice (along with sweet tea and soda) is the only thing that’s really off-limits for people with diabetes. Watch this video to learn why.

#4 Portion size is critical. Sure, you might want to eat a quart of fresh strawberries, but enjoying the recommended serving size of 1 ½ cups will fill you up and keep your blood sugar in range.  Our list below gives you the right serving size of different fruits so that you know what you can eat and still keep blood sugar in a good place.

#5 Have fruit for dessert. Fruit makes a delicious way to end your meal and have that little something sweet. Explore new fruit choices and try something different!

#6 Pair fruit with a protein source to avoid any rapid blood sugar increases. If the meal plan that your doctor or diabetes educator has given you includes snacks, this is a great option – a small amount of peanut butter, yogurt, cheese or other protein with your fruit will help balance the carbs in the fruit and provide a delicious and nutritious snack.

Also, some healthcare professionals recommend not eating fruit at night if you’re experiencing high blood sugar numbers in the morning. If high morning numbers are a challenge for you, that may be something you want to try.

Here are the serving size recommendations for people with diabetes for common fruits. (Each one of these options has about 15 grams of carbs.)

  • 1 small apple
  • ½ banana
  • ¾ cup blackberries
  • 1 cup cantaloupe
  • 1 cup honeydew melon
  • 12-15 cherries
  • ½ large grapefruit
  • 1 small orange
  • 1 small peach
  • 1 small pear
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 ½ cup whole strawberries
  • 17 small grapes

The medical information on Diabetes – What To Know’s website is provided as an information resource only. The content is not in any way intended to be nor should you rely on it as a substitute for professional medical evaluation, diagnosis, advice and treatment.

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