Most fruits are very rich in natural sugar, vitamins and antioxidants. Intake of fruits has been shown to reduce risk of most cardiovascular diseases and prevent early aging. Since Type 2 diabetes is characterized by excess sugar in the blood, it increases people’s concerns that fruit sugar might cause Type 2 diabetes. This is quite unlikely as most whole fruits are equally rich in dietary fiber which helps to delay absorption after intake unlike artificial sweeteners. On the contrary high intake of fruits and vegetables have been shown in some studies to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This implies that high intake of fruits cannot independently (as a single entity) cause diabetes, but high intake of fruits (especially dried fruits) alongside high intake of processed foods, refined carbs and fatty foods can result in being overweight which can increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Other risk factors of Diabetes aside being overweight are age, family history of Type 2 diabetes, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and high blood pressure. If you tick one or more of the risk factors list, then you will need a diet and lifestyle modification.
Can someone diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes eat fruits?
Yes! It is however important that individuals with Type 2 Diabetes choose more of fruits that are low in glycemic index (glycemic index is the ranking of carbs based on how they raise the blood sugar levels). Examples of such fruits are apples, oranges, plum, mango, pear, berries, grapefruits, pomegranates e.t.c It is also important that individuals with diabetes pay attention to the portion size of their fruit intake, have it in mind that a portion (1 cup) of most fruits contain 15-20g of carbohydrate. This should be incorporated into the daily required carb servings of individuals with Type 2 diabetes, this will help to keep track of all carbs intake and improve blood sugar control.
How much fruits does an adult need per day?
An adult needs 2 cups of fruits per day. One cup is equal to:
1 cup of diced or chopped whole fruits
1 cup of 100% fruit juice
Half cup of dried fruits
It should be noted that fruit juice contains no dietary fiber and when taken in excess can contribute to extra calories and result in weight gain, it is also important to go for 100% fruit juice (unsweetened). It is recommended that at least half of the daily required amount of fruits should come from whole fruits.
High intake of fruits cannot independently cause Type 2 Diabetes. To reduce your risk of diabetes, reduce intake of processed foods/drinks, fatty foods and refined carbs. If you are already diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, work with your dietitian to incorporate fruits in your daily carbs servings.