What are the best and worst fruits for blood sugar?
When consulting clients, a question that often comes up is how much fruit is good to eat on a daily basis. And while I am all for incorporating fruits in a healthy diet, the amount really depends on the person- their past and current health challenges, their health goals. Fruit is nature's candy, like honey. Fruit comes with a good amount of fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, but depending on the fruit with also good amount of fructose (apart from glycose), which our liver needs to metabolise. Too much fructose can tax your liver, lead to fat build up in the liver and cause insulin resistance of liver cells.
It's all about helping to keep your blood sugar in balance for good health. If you haven't read yet my article about the importance of blood sugar balance, you can find it here.
In the below article I cover what fruits are better and which ones worse for blood sugar. If you are someone wanting to loose weight, if you are someone struggling with gout, definitely focus more on eating those fruits that affect your blood sugar less. And what determines, how much particular fruit spikes your blood sugar: the sugar, the fibre, the glycemic index of the fruit. The higher the sugar content, the higher the blood sugar spike; the lower the fibre content, the higher the blood sugar spike. And the higher the glycemic index of the fruit, the more it impacts blood sugar. But you need to look at all these three, sugar, fibre, glycemic index together.
In addition, the more ripe the fruit, the higher the sugar content and the higher the glycemic index. Certain fruits stop ripening after they have been picked, like grapes, citrus fruits, berries. Other fruits continue ripening as they sit on your kitchen counter- like bananas, mangos, stone fruits (apricots, peaches, nectarines etc), pears. If I buy bananas, I always look for greener ones as they not only contains less sugar, but more resistance starch (starches are converted to sugar as the fruit matures).
Pair the fruit with protein, fat and fibre
I also recommend to eat a fruit, berries with a good protein (such as pairing apples with nut butter), or having berries with whipped coconut cream or unsweetened Greek yoghurt. If you pair a fruit with fat, protein, fibre- the impact on blood sugar will be less extreme.
Eat the fruit in a whole form
It's also better to eat food fruit in a whole form, rather than turning it into a smoothie. If you do want to make smoothies, make sure you add in there good fat, good protein, additional fibre and just a handful on fruit or berries. You can read here how I assemble my smoothies and smoothie bowls for satisfying meal without the blood sugar crash. Blending a fruit breaks down it's fibrous structure and your body needs to do less work to digest it it and sugar gets to absorb faster into the bloodstream. Therefore you need to be mindful how you put your smoothies together.
Juicing a fruit is the worst for blood sugar, as you remove all the fibre, which helps to digest fruit slower in your body.
Dried fruit, if you want to consume it, pair it with fat, protein, fibrous foods (adding for example 2 dried apricots or 2 dates to a smoothie made with coconut milk, protein powder, handful of spinach). As the water has been removed from the dried fruit, it does not fill you up like a whole fruit would and you can easily overeat the dried fruits.
There is also difference in people, how their blood sugar reacts to the same fruit. Depending on your sleep quality, your stress levels, your gut microbiome, your physical activity, you may respond differently to sugar in fruit than your friend would.
If you want to know how your body's blood sugar reacts to different foods, drinks, stress, you can try wearing a continuous glucose monitor (CGM- Continuous Glucose Monitor) for a few months. There are various companies in the market that offer this product/service, such as Veri, Levels, Nutrisense. It helps you get to know your body better and know what better choices to make for your body in terms of food, drink and lifestyle.
What fruits are better for blood sugar?
Raspberries (1/2 a cup contains, 2.7g of sugar, 4 grams of fibre and has a glycemic index of 32). Berries in general, like blueberries, black berries, strawberries are better for blood sugar.
Coconut meat (28g of unsweetened coconut contains 2g of sugar, 4.6g of fibre and has a glycemic index of 42).
Avocado (1 medium avocado contains 1.2g of sugar, 10g of fibre and has a glycemic index of 15)
Orange (1 medium orange contains 12g of sugar, 2.8g of fibre and has a glycemic index of 43). Also consider grapefruits, lemons and limes.
Kiwi (1 kiwi contains 6.7g of sugar, 2.3g of fibre and has a glycemic index of 52). Some people do eat kiwis with skin as it increases the fruit fibre content, vitamin E and folate content.
Apple (1 medium apple contains 19g of sugar, 4.4g of fibre and has a glycemic index of 36). Be sure to buy organic apples and leave the skin on when eating to benefit from the polyphenols (quercetin).
What fruits are worse for blood sugar?
Bananas (1 medium banana contains, 14.4g of sugar, 3.1g of fibre and has a glycemic index of 51). As I already wrote, greener bananas are a better choice as they may contain up to 10g less sugar than a ripe banana and also contains resistance starch, which is a good prebiotic to feed the good bacteria in your colon.
Grapes (1 cup contains 23.4g of sugar, 1.4g of fibre and has a glycemic index of 54). A few grapes sliced up into a salad is ok.
Mangos (1 cup contains 22.6g of sugar, 2.6g of fibre and has a glycemic index of 51). If you enjoy mango, eat it after your meal and keep it to a small serving size.
Cherries (1 cup contains 18g of sugar, 1.6g of fibre and has a glycemic index of 22)
Pears (1 medium pear contains 17 of sugar, 3.1g of fibre and has a glycemic index of 38)
Watermelon (1 wedge contains 17g, 0.4g of fibre and has a glycemic index of 80)
Pineapple (1 cup contains 16.3g of sugar, 2.3g of fibre and has a glycemic index of 59). Eat pineapple after your meal, serve it with your meat or fish dish as pineapple contain a good digestive enzyme called bromelain.
Dates (1 date contains 16g of sugar, 1.6g of fibre and has a glycemic index of 55). As they are high in sugar, a little goes a long way. Dates are good to use in desserts instead of sugar. During colder weather, I make a hot cocoa with almond milk, add spices like cinnamon, clove, ginger, cardamon, cocoa powder and add 1 or 2 dates depending on the number of people I make the cocoa for. Sometimes I might also add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
When consuming fruit, berries, aim for not more than 2 lower sugar fruits a day, or 1 fruit and half a cup of berries. If you want a banana, eat half of it or add it to your protein, fat and fibre rich smoothie. For a balanced weight, focus more on vegetables, than fruits in your diet.
I hope the above gives you an understanding how fruit can affect blood sugar, how to eat fruit to lower the impact on blood sugar and what fruits are better to consume. This is not to say, don't eat the fruits with higher sugar content. Variety in a diet is key to make sure you get different vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, polyphenols- just watch the quantity.
If you are someone looking to achieve better health, struggling with weight issues, looking to incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine, don't hesitate to reach out to me for health coaching at firstname.lastname@example.org.